Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO) is an American chamber orchestra based in Los Angeles, California. LACO presents its Orchestral Series concerts at two venues, the Alex Theatre in Glendale and UCLA's Royce Hall.
James Arkatov, a cellist, established LACO in 1968 as an artistic outlet for musicians from local film and record studios to perform the classical music repertoire at a chamber orchestra-scale of about 40-45 musicians. David Mermelstein wrote in 2005 on Arkatov's guiding principle of LACO:
At the beginning of LACO's history, the orchestra did not have a residency at a single concert hall. The orchestra performed in such venues as the Mark Taper Forum, Occidental College (Thorne Hall), the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, and the California Institute of Technology (Beckman Auditorium). Currently, in addition to its Orchestral Series concerts at Alex Theatre and Royce Hall, LACO also presents a Baroque music series at Zipper Hall at The Colburn School in downtown Los Angeles, and "In Focus" (a chamber music and discussion series) in Santa Monica at the Moss Theatre and San Marino at The Huntington. Its repertoire ranges from the Baroque to newly commissioned works, the latter through its patron commissioning club, Sound Investment.
LACO's first music director was Neville Marriner, who used the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields as a guiding model for LACO.Gerard Schwarz was LACO's second music director, and expanded the orchestra's repertoire to include more American works. Iona Brown was named LACO's music advisor for the 1986-1987 season, and became music director the next season, serving through 1992. Christof Perick was the next LACO Music Director, from 1992 to 1995.
Conductor and pianist Jeffrey Kahane, was music director from 1997 to 2017. During Kahane's tenure, LACO made its Carnegie Hall debut in April 2002. In June 2005, LACO received the First place Award for Programming of Contemporary Music, offered by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) and the American Symphony Orchestra League. Kahane now has the title of conductor laureate with LACO.
In September 2017, Jaime Martín first guest-conducted LACO. On the basis of this appearance, in February 2018, LACO named Martín its next music director, effective with the 2019-2020 season, with an initial contract of 3 years.