For 30 years Concerto Köln has ranked among the leading ensembles for historically informed performance practice. Even shortly following its establishment in 1985, both audience and critics alike were highly enthusiastic about the energetic performance style of the ensemble and ever since its establishment, Concerto Köln has appeared as a regular guest at the most renowned concert halls and music festivals around the globe. Numerous tours have led the ensemble to North and South America, to Asia including China, Japan and South Korea, as well as to Israel and the majority of European countries.
A trademark of the ensemble is the rediscovery of works by composers who have remained in the shadows of more celebrated names. The seamless integration of research and practical application is especially important for the ensemble and continues to play a significant role in their musical approach.
Accordingly, Concerto Köln has made significant contributions to the renaissance of various works including those by Joseph Martin Kraus, Evaristo Felice dall’Abaco and, in particular, Henri-Joseph Rigel. The recording of the symphonies by Rigel received numerous awards in 2009 including the ECHO Classic and the MIDEM Classic Award in 2010. The recording of the opera, “Artaserse” by Leonardo Vinci received two Echo Classic Awards (category “Opera Recording of the Year” in 2013 and “DVD of the Year” in 2014) as well as a 2014 Grammy Award nomination.
Martin Sandhoff assumed the position of artistic director of the orchestra in 2005. Concertmasters include Markus Hoffmann, Mayumi Hirasaki and Shunske Sato. For large-scale projects, Concerto Köln additionally engages various conductors. Such previous collaborations have included Kent Nagano, Ivor Bolton, Daniel Harding, René Jacobs, Marcus Creed, Peter Dijkstra, Laurence Equilbey and Emmanuelle Haïm. Further artistic partners include mezzo-sopranos Cecilia Bartoli, Vivica Genaux and Waltraud Meier, sopranos Simone Kermes, Nuria Rial, Rosemary Joshua and Johannette Zomer, counter tenors Valer Sabadus, Philippe Jaroussky, Max Emanuel Cencic, Andreas Scholl, Maarten Engeltjes and Carlos Mena, tenors Werner Güra and Christoph Prégardien, pianists Andreas Staier and Alexander Melnikov, violinists Midori Seiler and Giuliano Carmignola as well as the Ensemble Sarband, the Balthasar-Neumann Choir, the WDR, NDR and BR choirs, the Collegium Vocale Gent, the Swedish Radio Choir, the Regensburger Domspatzen, the RIAS Chamber Choir, Accentus and Arsys de Bourgogne.
Concerto Köln has produced numerous recordings with Deutsche Grammophon, Virgin Classics, Harmonia Mundi, Teldec, Edel and Capriccio and is able to boast a discography of more than 60 CDs, the majority of which have been recognised by significant awards such as the Echo Classic, the Grammy Award, The German Record Critics Award, the MIDEM Classic Award, the Choc du Monde de la Musique, the Diapason d’Année and the Diapason d’Or. One of the ensemble’s most outstanding recordings include the 2014 release of the Brandenburg Concertos.
Concerto Köln has especially close ties to its home town of Cologne, regularly performing in the Cologne Philharmonie and, since almost ten years, hosting its own concert series. The ensemble’s education project, “Hörpiraten”, has become a particular highlight for the ensemble. Through regular performances for school classes, almost 10,000 children from the Cologne area have had the opportunity to experience early music. Over the last few years, the “Hörpiraten” project has been expanding. It’s 2015 “Concerto goes to school” project is funded largely by the Kreissparkasse Köln foundations.
Not only has Concerto Köln has been awarded an agreement to be a Cultural Ambassador of the European Union, it is the world’s first orchestra with a quality management according to ISO 9001 and is official holder of the ‘TÜV Rheinland Plakette’.
A partnership with the leading High End Audio specialists, MBL, was established in October of 2009 resulting in concerts, conventions and further cooperative efforts. Both the company and the orchestra combine shared goals and values: “We maintain a similar philosophy and Concerto Köln pursues the same goals at a musical level as we do at the technical-musical level – to evoke the listener’s emotions through technical perfection and passion.” (MBL)
Further long-standing partners of the orchestra include the Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport of North-Rhine Westphalia, the Cultural Office of the City of Cologne, The Goethe Institute, the RheinEnergie Stiftung Kultur, the Kämpgen Stiftung, the Kunststiftung North-Rhine Westphalia as well as the TÜV-RHEINLAND, Bauwens Group and, since 2013, RIMOWA.
The orchestra celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2015. Focusing on various works by J.S. Bach, performances will include all six Brandenburg Concertos, the Violin Concertos featuring Giuliano Carmignola as well as the Passions and Masses together with the Bavarian Radio Choir under the baton of Peter Dijkstra, the Chorwerk Ruhr led by Florian Helgath and the Bach-Verein Choir directed by Thomas Neuhoff.
In April of this year, the orchestra will follow up on an invitation back to the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, rounding off their California tour with concerts in San Diego and Sonoma.
2015 also includes a first-time collaboration with Julia Lezhneva featuring concerts in Aschau, Frankfurt, Halle, Munich and at the Upper Austrian Stiftskonzerte.
In cooperation with dramatic adviser, Folkert Uhde, the project “Über Wunden” will be performed at the 64th International Organ Week in Nuremburg “Musica Sacra” as well as at the Lower Saxonian “Musiktage”.
The orchestra hosts its anniversary concert in December of this year together with the Countertenor, Valer Sabadus, in the Cologne Philharmonic Hall.