The Orchestra of St. Luke's is an American chamber orchestra based in New York City. The orchestra performs at several venues in New York City, including Carnegie Hall, The Morgan Library and Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum. Its administrative base is The DiMenna Center for Classical Music located in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood.
The core of the orchestra is the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble, which was founded in 1974 as an ensemble of 21 to 22 musicians. It is named for the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, Greenwich Village, in Manhattan, where the ensemble first performed. Michael Feldman, a music teacher in Manhattan, was the first de facto conductor of the ensemble. The larger Orchestra of St. Luke's was formally founded in the summer of 1979 at the Caramoor International Music Festival in Katonah, New York, as the festival's resident orchestra. The organisation of the orchestra's musicians falls into a three-tier roster, with the second tier of 20 players utilised for chamber orchestra concerts, and the third tier of 20 to 30 musicians for use in concerts that require larger ensembles. The pool of musicians for the orchestra generally derives from freelance New York City musicians. The orchestra musicians themselves decide on the hiring and dismissal, and assignments, of the players, without a central music director.
The orchestra's first titled conductor was Roger Norrington, the music director from 1990 to 1994. Sir Charles Mackerras was the orchestra's second music director, from 1998 to 2001, but with limited administrative work and only for the designated 3-year period, per his request.Donald Runnicles was the orchestra's next titled conductor, with the title of principal conductor, from 2001 to 2007. In December 2011, the orchestra announced the appointment of its current principal conductor, Pablo Heras-Casado, with immediate effect, and with an initial contract through 2015 and an extension through September 2017.
Orchestra of St. Luke's has premiered more than 100 orchestral and chamber works by such composers as John Adams, Joan Tower, Anthony Davis, Nicholas Maw, André Previn, George Tsontakis, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. The orchestra has appeared on more than 100 recordings, three of which have won Grammy Awards: John Adams's Nixon in China, Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and Bel Canto with Renée Fleming. In 2003, the orchestra launched its own record label, St. Luke's Collection.
The orchestra's current chairman is Norman S. Benzaquen.
Music Directors and Principal Conductors:
Roger Norrington (1990-1994; Music Director),
Sir Charles Mackerras (1998-2001; Music Director),
Donald Runnicles (2001-2007; Principal Conductor),
Pablo Heras-Casado (2011-present; Principal Conductor)