In response to the growing awareness of how music written before 1800 was performed, a significant number of chamber orchestras were established, an early example being the London Chamber Orchestra (1921), founded by Anthony Bernard to specialize in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century repertories. Both the Boyd Neel Orchestra (1932) and the Jacques Orchestra (1936) concentrated on Baroque and twentieth-century works; the Goldsborough Orchestra (1948), originally focusing on the eighteenth century, broadened its scope in 1960 when it was renamed the English Chamber Orchestra, becoming associated in particular with the English Opera Group, the Aldeburgh Festival and Britten's music. The discipline and musicianship evident in the performances and recordings of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields (1959), formed and directed by the violinist Neville Marriner, set new standards, as did those of the London Sinfonietta (1968), conducted by David Atherton, an ensemble specializing in contemporary music and capable, because of the flexibility of its constitution, of coping with almost any instrumental combination. The regions could also support new chamber ensembles, most notably the Northern Sinfonia (1961) at Newcastle-upon-Tyne and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (1974) at Edinburgh.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the quest for authenticity led to the formation of yet further specialist ensembles, but using period instruments - most significantly, the Academy of Ancient Music (conducted by Christopher Hogwood), the English Baroque Soloists (John Eliot Gardiner), the English Players (Trevor Pinnock), the Hanover Band (Roy Goodman), the London Classical Players (Roger Norrington) and the Taverner Players (Andrew Parrott). These groups testified to the continued richness and diversity of British musical life and confirmed London's position as one of the most important musical capitals of the world.