For over 25 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, Concerto Köln has appeared as a regular guest at the most renowned concert halls and music festivals around the globe. Numerous tours supported by the Goethe Institute, among others, have lead the ensemble to North and South America, to Asia including China, Japan and South Korea as well as to Israel and throughout most countries within Europe.
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)
Concerto Köln has produced numerous recordings with Deutsche Gramophone, Virgin Classics, Harmonia Mundi, Teldec, Edel and Capriccio and is able to boast a discography of more than 50 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.
A trademark of the ensemble is the rediscovery of composers whose music has remained in the shadows of great names. Concerto Köln has made significant contributions to the renaissance of works including those of Joseph Martin Kraus, Evaristo Felice dall’Abaco and especially those of Henri-Joseph Rigel. The recording of Rigel’s Symphonies received numerous awards in 2009 including the ECHO Classic and the MIDEM Classic Award in 2010. The seamless integration of research and practical application is especially important for the ensemble and plays a significant role in their musical approach.
Martin Sandhoff has been responsible for the artistic direction of the orchestra since 2005. In addition to the concertmaster from within the ranks of Concerto Köln, Markus Hoffmann, external concertmasters are also engaged for certain projects, such as the recent involvement of Shunske Sato or Mayumi Hirasaki. 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 Philippe Jaroussky, Max Emanuel Cencic, Andreas Scholl, Maarten Engeltjes and Carlos Mena, tenors Werner Güra and Christoph Prégardien, pianists Andreas Staier and Alexander Melnikov, actors and moderators Bruno Ganz, Harald Schmidt and Ulrich Tukur as well as the Ensemble Sarband, the Balthasar-Neumann Choir, the WDR, NDR and BR choirs, the Collegium Vocale Gent, the Regensburger Domspatzen, the RIAS Chamber Choir, Accentus and Arsys de Bourgogne.
Since 2005, Concerto Köln headquarters have been located in the Cologne district of Ehrenfeld where, on the ensemble’s initiative, a centre for early music shall be established. The centre wishes to build on the international significance of Cologne as the capital city of early music and to provide partners in the early music scene a common roof. Generous sponsors such as the State of North-Rhine Westphalia, the Kunststiftung NRW, the city of Cologne, the TÜV Rheinland, the Landschaftsverband Rheinland, the Bauwens Group and the RheinEnergieStiftung Kultur help to support Concerto Köln in realising this vision.
Concerto Köln has been awarded an agreement to be a Cultural Ambassador of the European Union. CK is the world's first group with a quality management according to ISO 9001 and is official holder of the 'TÜV Rheinland Plakette'.