Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa (OEK) was founded in 1988 with support from Ishikawa Prefecture and Kanazawa city, a city symbolizing Japanese Art, Culture and Tradition. The initiative was taken by reknowned conductor Hiroyuki Iwaki to create the country's first multinational chamber orchestra, consisting of 40 musicians from all over the world. OEK has a busy schedule presenting more than 100 concerts a year with special artists in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture and in all major cities throughout Japan. Additionally, the orchestra regularly performs abroad: there have been recent tours to Europe as well as to South-East Asia and Australia.
Although program building is based on classical repertoire, great emphasis is put on interpretation of contemporary music. The endeavor to commission, explore, and perform new music has led to more than 50 world premieres, mostly of pieces written by composers in residence.
Among many CD productions by OEK, Bizet/Shchedrin's Carmen Suite and Schnittke's Concerto Grosso No.1(Deutsche Grammophon), received the Japan Record Academy Prize in 1992. “Messages for the 21st Century Vol.2”(Deutsche Grammophon), an album composed entirely of commissioned new music, also received the Japan Record Academy Prize in 1995.
OEK invited Michiyoshi Inoue as music director after Hiroyuki Iwaki in 2007 and Inoue conducted OEK until March 2018 as music director. OEK invite Marc Minkowski as new Artistic Chef in September 2018.