The Arnold Schoenberg Chor was founded in 1972 by Erwin Ortner, who is still its artistic director. Since then the choir has established a highly praised standard among conductors, critics and the musical scene in Europe.
The intensity and commitment the choir brings to performances and recordings, as well as its unique musical and technical command, are its main factor of success. All members of the choir have broad experience and expertise in vocal music and are either studying at the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts currently or have already graduated.
The choir's repertoire covers the whole range from renaissance to contemporary music, from a capella works to large orchestral pieces and operas and it has worked with famous conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Muti and Lorin Maazel - to name only a few. Moreover the choir has performed on opera productions such as Schubert's Fierrabras at the Vienna Opera, Messiaen's Saint Francois d'Assise at the Salzburg Festival and videos of three operas of Mozart with the producer Peter Sellars.
The Arnold Schoenberg Chor has established a close working relationship with Nikolaus Harnoncourt over more than 30 years. During this period they have performed such pieces as Bach's Great Mass in H-minor, Monteverdi's St. Mary's Vesperae, Haydn's Creation and Four Seasons, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis and Symphony no. 9, operas like Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Handel's Samson, Theodora, Beethoven's Fidelio, Bizet's Carmen, Mozart's Sacred Oeuvres and Schubert's Masses in E-flat major and A-flat major.
Frequent concert tours form a constituent part of the choir's musical life. Festivals like the Salzburg Festival, Carinthian Summer, styriarte Graz, the Wiener Festwochen and Wien modern have been welcoming the Arnold Schoenberg Chor as guest ensemble for years.
In 1994, the Arnold Schoenberg Chor has received the Classical Music Award as best choir of the year. In 1996, the choir, conducted by its Chorus Master Erwin Ortner, recorded Schubert's complete secular choral works for Teldec on 7 CDs. This recording won the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik in Germany, the Diapason d'or in France, the Prix Caecilia in Belgium and the Grand Prize of the Academy Awards 1997 in Japan. In 2002, the recording of Bach's St Matthew Passion was awarded with a Grammy for Best Choral Performance. Recent recordings in cooperation with Nikolaus Harnoncourt include an album of Bach cantatas, Gershwin's Porgy and Bess and Haydn's The Seasons (awarded with Echo Klassik 2010).
In the choirs own CD edition last appeared a recording of sacred works by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, a CD with works by Johannes Brahms as well as the CD "Lux" with works by 20th century composers.