Ars Antiqua Austria
Ars Antiqua Austria was founded in Linz in 1995 with the aim of bringing to audiences the roots of specifically Austrian baroque music played on period instruments. The music performed at the imperial court in Vienna at that time showed the strong influence of Italian and later of French forms, while Spanish court ceremonial music also shaped the character of these works. The typical Austrian sound of the period also shows the influence of the many Crownlands. The political and social boundaries of Austria in the baroque era were far wider than in the 20th century.
Elements of Slavic and Hungarian folk music mingled with alpine sounds and can be heard in the art music of the period. The Austrian sound also reflects the temperament and character of the Austrians of that period, a unifying element in the melting point of many different cultures: the joie de vivre of the South, the Slavic melancholy, French formality, Spanish pomp and the alpine character of the German-speaking regions. This fusion of court music and folk music with a strong element of dance music form the typical Austrian sound.
The core of Ars Antiqua Austria consists of 7 musicians, directed by Gunar Letzbor. When the music requires more musicians, the ensemble is augmented.
During the early years Ars Antiqua Austria performed numerous concerts while researching the achievements of Austria’s Baroque composers. Many works had their modern premieres. Enthusiastic reviews welcomed CDs of music by Weichlein, Biber, Conti (together with the mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink), Viviani, Mealli, Arnold, Caldara, Aufschnaiter, Vilsmayr, Vejvanovsky, Schmelzer, Muffat and of course Johann Sebastian Bach.
In 2000, Ars Antiqua Austria started a cycle of Austrian Baroque music concerts at Konzerthaus Wien. A year later, the ensemble played the main role in a series of more than 90 concerts under a common title „Sound of Cultures – Culture of Sound“. 10 different programmes have been performed in Vienna, Prague, Bratislava, Krakow, Venice, Ljubljana, Mechelen, Budapest and Lübeck.
The recent tours have taken the ensemble to numerous festivals including festivals in Ribeauville and Berlin, the Printemps des arts de Nantes, the Mozartfest Würzburg with an opera production together with Michael Schopper, the Tage Alter Musik in Herne, Festival de Musique de Clisson et de Loire Atlantique, La Folle Journée in Nantes, Musée Unterlinden in Colmar, Le Printemps Baroque du Sablon, Salzburger Festspiele, Flanders Festival, Festival Bach de Lausanne, Bologna Festival, Vendsyssel Festival, I Concerti della Normale in Pisa, Resonanzen in Wien, KlangBogen Wien, Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht.
The Ars Antiqua Austria Capricci Armonici recording with music composed by Viviani with Gunar Letzbor received the Cannes Classical Award.