The Story of the Orchestra
The "First Cologne Accordion Orchestra" was founded in 1935 by Heinz Gengler, which over the years has developed into an internationally renowned ensemble. Under the baton of its current conductor and arranger Matthias Hennecke, the orchestra has created a modern symphonic sound, showing the infinite variety of the accordion. His filigree, sophisticated arrangements, which are specially tailored to the Cologne orchestra's instrumentation, lend each individual title its own character.
Frequent performances in Belgium, Denmark, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, the Netherlands, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Germany have received critical acclaim, contributing to the popularity of the Orchestra both at home and abroad. Visits to the United States of America in 1967, and to South Africa and Namibia in 1969 were among the greatest artistic challenges. Other musical highlights were concert tours to Prague, Warsaw, Vilnius and Kaunas/Lithuania, Daugavpils/Latvia, St. Petersburg in 1991. There were three more overseas tours to Brazil in 1997 and Canada in 1999 and 2008. Wherever the orchestra performed, it was received with spontaneous cordiality. Among these highlights were the numerous concerts in the Kölner Philharmonie, in Cologne's good Stube Gürzenich and in the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln. Several CDs with different styles have also been released so far.
The cooperation with choir associations in the field of a common literature is especially cultivated. The orchestra represented the German Harmonica Association several times at the festive concerts on the occasion of the awarding of the "Zelter-Plakette" by the Federal President as well as at gala events of various kinds.
Outstanding prizes at the highest level in national and international competitions reflect the orchestra's high level of performance. At the 13th LandesMusikFest NRW 2018 in Leverkusen, the main orchestra conducted by Matthias Hennecke won first prize for the second time in a row and thus the North Rhine-Westphalian State Championship.
With the very well cast "Erste Kölner Akkordoen-Orchester" as main orchestra, the entertainment orchestra, the hobby orchestra G'Oldies as well as an accordion sextet, there are 4 groupings today. The repertoire comprises a multifaceted spectrum of music, from classical, entertainment and film music to pop and swing. The Cologne musicians have perfected the sound structure and groove of the big band sound from jazz to Latin in the accordion orchestra.