The acclaimed Kölner Kantorei of Cologne, Germany, specializes in demanding chiefly a cappella choral works of the 19th and 20th centuries. This choir of mainly nonprofessional singers relies on breath, voice, and body training (from both its director and members knowledgeable in these disciplines) to achieve its highly praised performance quality.
The foundation of their rehearsal technique is each individual choir member's diligent study of the music, which allows essential details to be perfected during the ensemble's ten ,,Projekt-Wochenende" (weekend rehearsal retreats) each year. The Kantorei's ability to quickly learn new works continues to attract young singers with choral experience.
The Kölner Kantorei has recently begun focusing on works connected by a particular theme, e.g., its programs of European sacred music following the form of a Mass, or Psalm settings of the Romantic period and the twentieth century. The choir is also part of a regional consortium of eight other choruses in Cologne that cooperate to produce the Kölner Chor-Konzerte (Cologne Choral Concerts) in the city's Philharmonic Hall.
The choir tours not only different regions of Germany but also other countries of Europe, with emphasis on Eastern Europe, and Israel. Because of several tours in former Eastern Block countries (e.g., Poland in 1982 and 1995, Romania in 1990), the Kölner Kantorei has achieved a reputation as a musical ambassador. In November 1998 it received first prize in the Polyphonic Division of the 3Oth International Choral Competition in Tolosa, Spain. Thanks to support from the Deutscher Musikrat (German Music Council), the Kölner Kantorei has been able to undertake a first-ever concert tour of the USA in 1999, coinciding with ceremonies honoring the 10th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall and the fiftieth year of the Federal Republic of Germany.