Thomas Hengelbrock founded the Balthasar-Neumann-Chor (1991) and Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble (1995) as professional formations of outstanding vocal soloists and instrumentalists. In the past years, both ensembles have established excellent reputations under his artistic direction. The repertoire ranges from early Baroque to modern, and is performed in accordance with historically informed performance practice on the appropriate instrumentarium.
A small formation with the possibility of assigning even highly virtuoso parts to its own vocal soloists, the Choir is an ideal ensemble for compositions such as Monteverdi’s Vespers and Bach’s vocal works. In the larger formation, the Choir and Ensemble dedicate themselves to the music of the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries. From the two ensembles’ close and continuing collaboration emerge unusual concert programs and original musical theater productions under stage directors such as Achim Freyer, Philippe Arlaud, or Thomas Hengelbrock himself.
Inspired by the German Baroque architect Balthasar Neumann’s architectural juxtaposition of structure, painting, sculpture, and garden, Thomas Hengelbrock strives for an intensive interplay of music and other arts. Semi-staged performances, which combine music, recitation, acting, and dance in continually new ways, are the result of an adventurous approach in which the ensemble members not infrequently exchange their evening dress for stage costumes. Besides the “Carnival Music of the Seventeenth Century” or the “Metamorphosis of Melancholy,” programs that explore the idea of the Baroque theater of the world, incidental music such as Schumann’s Manfred or Grieg’s Peer Gynt are revived in the respective contexts of Byron’s and Ibsen’s dramas.