Musician of the month
Willi Kronenberg

Which instrument do you play at the Kölner Akademie and when did you start playing?

At the Kölner Akademie I am active as a keyboard player, mainly as a continuo player. The harpsichord and organ, together with the other bass instruments, form the foundation that represents the harmonic course of a composition. We are, so to speak, an ensemble within an ensemble. My right hand plays the harmonies that are assigned to the bass line in a number font. In my family there was hobby music, so I had early contact and desire for music. I had my first piano lessons at the age of nine, a little later I was fascinated by the organ and when I started to study early music it became clear that the harpsichord was still missing. I can’t answer the question of whether I ultimately prefer playing the harpsichord or the organ.

What led you to the Kölner Akademie?

My first contact with the “Orchester Damals und Heute” – the former name of the ensemble – was through the then concertmaster Annette Wehnert, with whom I played chamber music. I had already heard a few concerts with Michael and was then invited to play in the St. Matthew Passion by Johann Valentin Meder. This absolutely lovely, heartbreaking musical gem then became the first recording project (2006). Since then I have played in several concerts between Cartagena and Perm and have participated in more than 30 CD recordings.

In which other orchestras and ensembles do you play?

I have always played in different constellations. Occasionally in various projects (e.g. with Peter Neumann, Christoph and Andreas Spering, Andrew Parrott, Carlo Hommel) and for short or longer periods as a member of ensembles (including Musica solare, Concert Royal Köln, Accademia Filarmonica). Mainly as an organist I also play solo programs, including music of the Romantic period and the 20th century. In addition, I have held various church music positions and, finally, I have recently become organist at the Cathedral of the Old Catholic Church next to the Beethoven House in Bonn.

What distinguishes the work with the Kölner Akademie in your eyes?

In the Kölner Akademie, people come together who can form a homogeneous sound in a very short time. This is very remarkable, given that the instrumentation changes from time to time. In what is often a short rehearsal period, rapid developments take place that lead to outstanding results, as several recordings prove. Intonation, interplay, rhythmic conciseness, dynamic range, tonal balance, presentation of musical developments, etc. are points that are always raised to a reliably high level. This makes participation attractive and demanding, but at the same time easy.

What do you like to do when you are not making music?

I have shied away from answering this point, because I actually do not have a distinct hobby. When I’m not preparing the projects that are coming up, I’m occupied with other music that I’m planning as my own project, or that I’m not actively involved in myself (opera, symphony, choral music). The one or other book is read (biographies, novels, poetry), every now and then a thriller or psychological thriller is exciting to watch and I like to be on the road to enjoy local art and culture. My sporting ambitions flare up again and again in relation to swimming, but the limited life time simply does not allow quite enough…