The Australian Chamber Orchestra was founded by cellist John Painter in 1975.Richard Tognetti was appointed Lead Violin in 1989 and subsequently appointed Artistic Director.
As well as frequent Australian tours, the Australian Chamber Orchestra often tours Asia, Europe and the USA, including regular performances at London's Wigmore Hall, New York's Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Vienna's Musikverein and Washington's Kennedy Center.
Recordings by Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra of J.S.Bach won three consecutive ARIA Awards. The Australian Chamber Orchestra appears in the films Musical Renegades and Musica Surfica and the television series Classical Destinations series two.
In 2005, ACO2, a second ensemble combining emerging artists and Australian Chamber Orchestra musicians was formed as a training and regional touring orchestra.
Richard Tognetti performs on a 1743 Guarneri del Gesù violin, on loan from an anonymous benefactor. Principal Cello Timo-Veikko Valve performs on a 1729 Giuseppe Guarneri Filius Andreae cello, on loan from Peter Weiss. Principal Second Violin Helena Rathbone plays a 1759 J.B. Guadagnini violin on loan from the Commonwealth Bank Group. Assistant Leader Satu Vänskä plays a 1728 Stradivarius violin, owned by the Australian Chamber Orchestra Instrument Fund.