The Swedish Chamber Orchestra has gained worldwide prominence since its founding under its current name in 1995, with conductor Thomas Dausgaard leading a merged ensemble of municipal orchestra players in the city of Örebro. The orchestra has often performed and recorded Romantic-era works at the ensemble size (about 40 players is typical) for which they were originally written.
Symphonic ensembles in Örebro date back to the early 19th century, and their emphasis has shifted between small-orchestra music-making and full symphonic scale. These ensembles received municipal funding and sometimes included military musicians as well as orchestral players, professional and amateur. The current Swedish Chamber Orchestra (Swedish: Svenska Kammarorchestern) was formed by the merger of the existing Örebro Symphony Orchestra and Örebro Chamber Orchestra.
Dausgaard assumed the conductorship in 1997 and launched a recording program that included a complete cycle of Beethoven's symphonies along with other orchestral music, an ambitious undertaking for a provincial Swedish ensemble. Those Beethoven albums have appeared on the Simax label. Further recordings have appeared on Naxos (often featuring neglected Swedish orchestral music), and, especially since 2010, Sweden's BIS label. Those recordings have included music not only of the early 19th century -- such as a cycle of Schubert symphonies, which easily fit the chamber orchestra format -- but also works by Bruckner, Wagner (the Siegfried Idyll and the Wesendonk-Lieder, with soprano Nina Stemme), and, in 2018, the Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73; Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56; and Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80.
The Swedish Chamber Orchestra tours and performs a full season at home at the Örebro Concert Hall. They have appeared at the BBC Proms, Lincoln Center in New York, and the Salzburg Festival. Dausgaard planned to step down as of 2019; Swedish clarinetist and conductor Martin Fröst was announced as his replacement. English conductor and keyboardist Andrew Manze has been one of the orchestra's few non-Swedish collaborators.