About us

The Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra, Ottawa’s premiere professional chamber orchestra, was founded in 1976 by conductor Brian Law and string players from the National Arts Centre Orchestra. The orchestra is now directed by Kevin Mallon.

The orchestra’s repertoire is diverse – covering music from the Baroque era to 21st century music – having commissioned 100 new works from Canadian composers. The orchestra’s core of thirteen string players is regularly supplemented by guest performers. From baritones to sopranos, from marimba players to Klezmer specialists, guest artists have helped develop Thirteen Strings into one of the best-known and most eclectic chamber orchestras in Canada.

The Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra presents its own subscription concert series and has collaborated with many arts organizations in Ottawa. These have included: Le Festival de musique sacrée, Ottawa’s Seventeen Voyces, the Music and Beyond festival, the Cantata Singers, Ottawa’s Viennese Winter Ball, the West Fest street festival and the McGill Chamber Orchestra. In December 2013, the annual Christmas Concert was filmed for television and broadcast to over 140 countries on EWTN. Many of its concerts have been broadcast across Canada on CBC Radio and Radio-Canada.

The orchestra’s education project, the Junior Thirteen Strings, brings together a pool of talented youngsters to work alongside the professional members of the Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra.

The Thirteen Strings Chamber Orchestra made its first recording on the Naxos label in June 2014, with a recording of Franz Beck’s six symphonies, opus 2. A second recording was launched in August 2022 with works by Ontario composer John Burge.


Mandate and History of Thirteen Strings 

Thirteen Strings is dedicated to the excellence of artistic expression through the performance of string ensemble music from Baroque to contemporary, and for audiences everywhere through concerts and recordings. Our mission is to provide audiences with the leading edge of live, classical music where sophisticated repertoire intersects with dynamic, high-quality performances.

The purpose of Thirteen Strings is:

  • to attract and provide a platform for highly talented Canadian professional string players to present publicly accessible concerts of music written for small string ensemble, and to create opportunities for soloists with the ensemble;
  • to provide a chamber ensemble setting in Ottawa for world-class artists, both local and national;
  • to encourage the development of young musicians and composers;
  • to encourage the composition and performance of Canadian repertoire in the chamber orchestra genre;
  • to work cooperatively with other arts organizations;
  • to offer excellent music to the community at affordable prices (e.g. $10.00 for student tickets and senior discounts) encouraging a wider and more diverse audience;
  • and to continue its record as a well governed and financially responsible not-for-profit corporation.

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