The Cappella Coloniensis (sometimes written as Capella Coloniensis) is a German orchestra founded by West German Radio in Cologne in 1954 for the purpose of introducing historically informed performance (HIP) of Baroque music to the listening public. Although committed to HIP, the orchestra played in its first decades also on modern instruments.
The 1960's and 1970's were followed by concert tours all over the world. In the USSR, the Middle and Far East, in Japan as in Europe and North and South America. The Cappella Coloniensis served as ambassador of Germany and its home city of Cologne and was celebrated enthusiastically. With opera recordings by Gioachino Rossini beginning of the 1980's, in which great singers as Fiorenza Cossotto and Francisco Araiza participated, and conducted by Gabriele Ferro, Cappella Coloniensis made its first trip to the romantic era.
Major conductors stood on the podium of Cappella Coloniensis in the course of 50 years of its existence, among them Ferdinand Leitner, William Christie, John Eliot Gardiner, Joshua Rifkin and Hans-Martin Linde. Since 1997, Bruno Weil conducts the orchestra increasingly. With him the Cappella Coloniensis received twice the Echo Klassik Prize of the German record industry. It emerged with Bruno Weil widely acclaimed CD recordings of the Weber's operas Der Freischütz and Abu Hassan and the opera Endimione by Johann Christian Bach. The successful artistically and personally extremely harmonious co-operation led finally to the choice of Bruno Weil as artistic director by the musicians of the Capella Coloniensis.
Successful outcome of this co-operation was the CD release of a concert performance in the Essen Philharmonic Orchestra in June 2004, the initial version of the Fliegenden Holländers by Richard Wagner. After 50 years under the auspices of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Cappella Coloniensis departed from the WDR to a new era of independence as a young and innovative orchestra, whose goal is to perform not only the compositions of the Baroque era, but increasingly also the masterpieces of the time of the Classical and Romantic music. In 1998 the orchestra received the Georg Philipp Telemann Prize from the City of Magdeburg.