Swiss violinist Chiara Banchini is the co-founder and leader of the period instrument group Ensemble 415, which takes its name from the pitch recommended in old Baroque-era treatises for the note A below middle C: 415 cycles per second.
Banchini was born in Lugano, Switzerland and graduated from the Geneva Conservatory. Afterwards, Banchini studied with violinist Sandor Végh, but in the meantime had developed an interest in Baroque violin techniques and decided to further her studies with Belgian violinist Sigiswald Kuijken at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. Upon earning her diploma, Banchini accepted a teaching post at the Centre for Early Music in Geneva, and at this time she began to appear on the concert circuit as a solo artist. After Banchini relocated from Geneva to the Schola Cantorum in Basel in 1981, in her own words she "felt the need to fill a vacuum in the Swiss musical vista" and formed Ensemble 415, her period instrument orchestra playing at Baroque pitch, rather than at the modern A of 440 cycles per second. The band attracted an immediate following as a live group, but did not develop an international reputation until it reached an exclusive recording agreement with the French label Harmonia Mundi in 1989. In 1992 Banchini and Ensemble 415 scored a critical and commercial hit with their recording of Arcangelo Corelli's Concerti grossi, Op. 6. Even more popular, and to date the most famous of Ensemble 415's recordings, was the 1996 release of the Stabat Mater of Antonio Vivaldi with guest vocalist Andreas Scholl, who later toured with Ensemble 415 in this work and became a star in his own right.
Banchini has also recorded for the labels Erato, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Virgin, Accent, Astreé, and for the Zig Zag Territories label. Banchini plays a Nicola Amati violin, which was handcrafted in Italy in 1674.