Amsterdam Sinfonietta was founded in 1988, with Lev Markiz as its first artistic director. Candida Thompson has been concertmaster of the ensemble since 1995, as well as its artistic director since 2003. This approach to music-making without a conductor is what distinguishes the group from ‘regular’ chamber orchestras. It calls for an extremely intense degree of involvement from all the musicians. In past years Amsterdam Sinfonietta has toured Europe, China, the United States and Australia. It has appeared at major venues including the Barbican Hall in London, Cité de la Musique in Paris, the National Centre of Performing Arts in Beijing and the Berlin Konzerthaus. The repertoire encompasses a variety of styles, ranging from Baroque to contemporary works. Alongside performances of mainstream repertoire, the orchestra frequently champions unjustly neglected or new works. Amsterdam Sinfonietta has recently premièred compositions by Peter-Jan Wagemans, Michel van der Aa, Tigran Mansurian and Peteris Vasks. Leading composers such as Thomas Larcher, Sofia Gubaidulina, Calliope Tsoupaki and Rozalie Hirs are currently composing new works commissioned by Amsterdam Sinfonietta.
The ensemble has gained a reputation for creating highly innovative programmes; its trademark versatility recently earned it the prestigious classical music prize De Ovatie (The Ovation) in 2013. It frequently presents original and compelling combinations of works, initiates surprising collaborations and embraces groundbreaking concepts involving video art, dance or theatre. Successful partnerships were forged with the choreographers Emio Greco and PC, the actor Jeroen Willems, choreographer Nanine Linning, stage director Pierre Audi and singer-songwriter Patrick Watson.