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La Stravaganza Köln (Baroque Orchestra)

Founded: 1988 - Köln (Cologne), North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

The Baroque Orchestra

Back in the age of “early music” there was, practically speaking, just modern music being heard, and that, too, in great variety. It was an integral part of life - always live! - aiming not just to please audiences but rather to grab their attention, to move and even to incite them. For there was experimental music too, daring to explore the boundaries of acceptability, trying to formulate the unheard-of:forward-looking, futuristic music. “Historical Performance Practice”was unknown to musicians, and in the case of a performance of older music it would have been done in an up-dated version and in such a way that people could understand the musical language.

La Stravaganza Köln, a latter-day Baroque orchestra, wishes to decipher this musical language to which all were able to relate back then, and to play the music in a fashion which can make its content comprehensible once again. A merely “beautiful” sound narrows ancient music - which was written with the aim to address and express - down to a matter of aesthetics. At a time of complete over-stimulation and data inundation we would like to convey the experience of how audiences back then were moved by contemporary music. Whereas often the distinction between pop and classical, light and serious is glibly made, we would like to rediscover the richer tapestry of music from the 17th and 18th centuries. In a world where we are subject to “Baroque music” even in elevators and telephone queues we hope toshow that hearts and souls may be moved by this music even today.

The Name

La Stravaganza - “the extraordinary or daring feat” - this title appears in compositions of the Baroque where musical terra nova was broached.

For the orchestra the name represents a commitment and a challenge ..

The Concept

The members of the orchestra have specialised in the use of the instrumental forces of the time. Original instruments, gut strings, contemporary bows, knowledge of the different temperament systems, key characteristics and musico-rhetorical figures are self-evident. A real approach towards early music however is only feasible through the systematic study of older playing techniques.This involves renouncing modern aids like cello end-pins and chin- or shoulder-rests for violins and violas, a sparingly employed, variable vibrato and a “speaking” articulation based on historical bowing rules. Not superficial virtuosity, rather an emphatic vocal quality exemplifies the ensemble – a style of playing far removed from sterile purity. Baroque opulence of sound, sheer pleasure in performing and dance-like grace are trade-marks of La Stravaganza Köln.

The Programs

The beginnings of orchestral music occurred about the mid-17th century, an orchestra for "Baroque music" has therefore access to almost 150 years of musical treasures, a trove that is still far from being exhausted. La Stravaganza Köln draws on the entire spectrum, keeping its sights also on works of the early period whilst taking particular pleasure in newly-discovered and rarely-played delicacies. To enhance the programmes well-known singers may be involved and collaboration with some of Germany's most prominent choirs enable special programmes to be billed.

The People

The musicians assemble from all over Germany and neighbouring countries for the projects, participating in rehearsals, concerts and socialising. The overall consensus in musical matters creates a very particular harmonious atmosphere extending well beyond the concert hall itself.

The History

La Stravaganza Köln was founded in 1988. After a formative phase the orchestra found an important partner in the English violinist Andrew Manze who directed it for six years. His growing commitments with The Academy of Ancient Music forced his departure and led to a series of exciting projects under various leaders. International invitations led the orchestra to Holland, France, Austria, Italy, Spain and the USA. The internationally renowned violinist Veronika Skuplik has led the orchestra since 1999.

Source: La Stavaganza Köln Website (Photos 01-02 by Gert Mothes)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2012)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Takashi Baba


Sinfonias from BWV 29, BWV 146

Georg Christoph Biller


BWV 23, BWV 107, BWV 186, BWV 187; Chorus from BWV 178, Credo from BWV 236
Bachfest Leipzig 2008: G.P. Telemann/J.S. Bach: Motet BWV Anh 160

Recordings of Bach’s Instrumental Works




Andrew Manze


Orchestral Suites BWV 1066-1069
Sinfonias from
BWV 29, BWV 146

Links to other Sites

La Stavaganza Köln (Official Website) [German/English]


Biographies of Performers: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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Last update: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 04:21