Spark brings an exciting new voice to the young creative classical scene. The group combines the virtuosity and precision of a classical chamber music ensemble with the power and grit of a rock band. Since 2007, this adventurous quintet has been roaming the world as the Classical Band and celebrating an eccentric mix of post-classical, minimal music and avant-garde. In 2011, the ensemble won an ECHO Klassik Award. With their ear for the unusual and the unheard, these five young musicians move effortlessly between the most contrasting musical worlds. Classical at heart, outwardly wilful and nonconformist, they forge tradition and innovation into a thrilling sonic experience at the cutting edge. Together they perform music that ignites passion. Together they spark.
Hailed by the German weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT as “chamber music for the Facebook generation”, the Spark sound encapsulates the life experience of the 21st century. Fast cuts, juxtapositioning and juggling of the most varied eras and styles, the art of surprise and the delight in associative illusion expressed in music: all these things characterize the style of the Classical Band. Old jostles with new, the lines between serious and light music are blurred, Baroque masterpieces are introduced to young contemporaries, Classical-Romantic repertoire enjoys a thrilling remix and stereotypes are taken in hand for the pure delight of rubbing them up the wrong way. The Wiener Zeitung speaks of “refreshing soundscapes wrapped up in a concept that defies convention.” “You won’t find a cooler combination of clamour and cantilena”, writes Der Tagesspiegel. The daily paper DIE WELT dubs Spark a “top-notch band” and the Badisches Tagblatt calls the five musicians “the intrepid young pioneers of the classical scene.” The Dutch daily De Volkskrant numbers Spark among the very few ensembles “who have the potential to convincingly combine influences from pop and dance with classical music” and the American Record Guide describes the group as “a genuine classical music phenomenon not unlike Yo Yo Ma or the Kronos Quartet, but even more vital.”
Within a very short space of time, Spark has grown into an audience favourite and now enjoys a steadily increasing fanbase in Europe, Asia and the USA. Invitations at the highest level have taken the classical band to some of the world’s most renowned concert platforms, including Konzerthaus Berlin, Kölner Philharmonie, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Wiener Musikverein, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, London’s Barbican Centre, Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, the National Concert Hall of Taipei, the Shanghai Oriental Art Center, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the Rheingau Music Festival and La Folle Journée in Nantes. Since 2013, Spark has regularly joined forces with various well-known orchestras, often in premieres of works specially written for Spark and orchestra. In concert with the London Symphony Orchestra, the ensemble performed the Wind Waker Concerto by Finnish composer Roger Wanamo, based on the music of the popular computer game The Legend of Zelda. The Nederlands Kamerorkest was Spark’s partner in Chiel Meijering’s Kiss of Fire, which illuminates various aspects of love in a fifty-minute tour de force. And beyond the bounds of classical tradition, Spark’s radical new definition of classical music has captured people’s attention, as exemplified by the Classical Band’s appearances in jazz clubs, at rock and pop festivals – such as the Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg – and on indie open-air stages, and in Berlin’s famous techno club Berghain.
September 2010 marked the release of the Classical Band’s debut album, Downtown Illusions, which captured the urban melting-pot in an intoxicating sound experience. MusikWoche called the album “one of the year’s biggest surprises”. Audiophile Audition talked about a “radically new face for chamber music and classical in general.” The album grew into an indie hit and climbed to Number 1 in the German Amazon Classical Charts. 2011 saw Spark take the ECHO Klassik Award for Downtown Illusions in the category "classics without borders". The group’s second album, Folk Tunes, once again won over the trade press the following year with its mischievous updated renderings of European folk songs. “Traditional folk turbocharged” concluded Rondo magazine, while Fono Forum described the explosive mixture of classical, world music, minimal music and Balkan beats as a “quite distinctive sound, well worth listening to.” On their current album, their Berlin Classics debut Wild Territories, Spark enters uncharted musical territories. Vivid imagination and bold experimentation are at work as the five players evoke their luxuriant sound cosmos. Everything is intense, vibrating, pulsating and grooving. Raw emotions are awakened. You don’t have to be a connoisseur of classical works or contemporary art music to be gripped by electrifying associations. Not when the ensemble’s burning desire is to transform the untamed energy of their sounds into a spontaneous emotional experience.
Remarkably, Spark highlights a thoroughly controversial instrument, the recorder. The group’s founding members Daniel Koschitzki and Andrea Ritter give the seemingly inconspicuous instrument a modern context. With their fast and furious playing they sweep away the dusty clichés in an instant. They are ably supported by violinist Stefan Glaus, cellist Victor Plumettaz and pianist Mischa Cheung , three brilliant partners who share their desire for new forms of expression and give a face to Spark’s vision. Together, these five young artists conquer the stage with a motley crew of up to 40 different instruments ranging from the 10-inch sopranino recorder to the two-metre-tall subbass, from the classical piano trio line-up of violin, cello and piano to the exotic timbres of modern keyed flutes, a melodica and a slide whistle, plus spontaneous vocals. Time and again, the Classical Band creates new, unaccustomed sounds and enjoys reinventing itself from one piece to another. Listeners around the world respond to this fresh new approach to classical music and its skilful blend of tradition and trends. And they like Spark’s message: Great music knows no genre and no boundaries!
Translation: Janet & Michael Berridge
„This is probably the most entertaining album featuring recorders that I’ve ever heard. It certainly puts a radical new face on chamber music and classical in general.” (Audiophile Audition)
“A genuine classical music phenomenon not unlike Yo Yo Ma or the Kronos Quartet, but even more vital.” (American Record Guide)
“Spark is part of a generation of musicians that embraces all kinds of musical styles unapologetically. If so-called classical music is to survive, this type of musician will need to become the norm.”
(Rob Haskins, Associate Professor Department of Music, University of New Hampshire)