The ACADEMY OF ST. MARTIN IN THE FIELDS was formed in 1958 as a small, conductorless chamber ensemble. Led by Neville Marriner and attracting some of the finest players in London, the orchestra at first concentrated on repertoire from the Baroque era, developing a style of performance that launched the 1960s' Baroque revival. The Academy was so named after the various concert-giving societies or 'Academies' that had flourished in 18th-century London and the famous church in which it gave its first concert on November 13, 1959.
Only two years later it had secured its first recording contract, with the independent L'Oiseau-Lyre label. This was to be the beginning of a literally record-breaking discography that now boasts well over 500 entries, making the Academy the most recorded chamber orchestra in the world. The Academy is particularly well-known for its Mozart recordings with Sir Neville Marriner, including the multi-award-winning soundtrack to the film Amadeus. More recently the orchestra has won critical acclaim for its recordings of Bach keyboard concertos with pianist Murray Perahia, the Brahms and Stravinsky Violin Concertos with Hilary Hahn and Sir Neville Marriner, and concertos by Kurt Weill and Peteris Vasks with British violinist Anthony Marwood. Thanks to this huge recorded catalogue and widespread radio coverage, the Academy's name has become familiar to audiences across the globe.
Alongside its performances with Life President Sir Neville Marriner and Director Kenneth Sillito, the Academy now collaborates with a number of guest directors including Murray Perahia, Joshua Bell, Gil Shaham, Anthony Marwood, Julia Fischer, and Julian Rachlin. The orchestra maintains a busy schedule of international touring alongside its concerts and outreach work in the UK and in the 2006/7 season performs in Switzerland, Hungary, Holland, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, France, Spain, and the USA. In 1997 the orchestra was invited to perform during the official handover celebrations in Hong Kong and more recently was the first guest orchestra to appear at the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Since 2002 the Academy has been the resident orchestra at the Mostly Mozart Festival at London's Barbican Centre.
Unlike most major UK orchestras, the Academy receives no direct government subsidy and relies solely on its artistic integrity and commercial initiative for its continued success.