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About the Ensemble

The Basel Early Music Group was founded in 2004 as part of a joint project between two Music Universities: the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and the Latvian Academy of Music. At that time, a group of Basel students traveled to Riga to perform cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach and the instrumental music of his last student, Johann Gottfried Müthel, organist of St. Peter's Church in Riga, together with Riga music students under the direction of the two professors Joshua Rifkin and Sergio Azzolini. A few months later, the ensemble, now called the “Kesselberg Ensemble”, also performed in the Rhine city of the border triangle.


The ensemble chose the name “Kesselberg”, Katlakalns in Latvian, after the district of Riga where Johann Gottfried Müthel (1728 in Mölln - 1788 in Riga) - Latvia's greatest composer of the 18th century and J. S. Bach's last student - spent his last years.

One of the focal points of the ensemble is the revival of Müthel's music and works from other Latvian musical cultural legacies and their dissemination outside of Latvia. The “Kesselberg Ensemble” is no less committed to performing rediscovered compositions from University and Monastery libraries. This is also how the musical materials by Carlo Donato Cossoni (1623-1700) found in the library of the Einsiedeln monastery and first printed editions by Garpar's Fritz (1716-1783) which are in the Geneva University Library experienced a renaissance thanks to the efforts of the “Kesselberg Ensemble”.

The current priority of the Kesselberg Ensemble is erecording all Müthel instrumental concerts in collaboration with the label “SKANI” and the simultaneous publications of the scores of these works in the “Musica Baltica” publishing house.


The group has also created two larger stage productions centered on two Baroque composers: two musical pasticcios "A home for Müthel" in the year of the group's 10th anniversary and "Re:FRITZ" on the 300th birthday of the Geneva composer and violin virtuoso Gaspard Fritz. These productions combine early music with new compositions created specifically for these productions, stage design, dance, theatrical elements and texts, both with letters from Müthel and with works by Voltaire.

The “Kesselberg Ensemble” has performed numerous programs in festivals in Switzerland, Latvia, Germany and the Czech Republic. For 13 years, the ensemble was the core creative team of the festival Baroque Music Days in Rēzekne (Latvia). Many international collaborations were initiated, masterclasses and lectures held and created a wider circle of people interested in early music and trained new performers of early music in Latvia and the Baltics in general.

"The ensemble chose the name “Kesselberg”, Katlakalns in Latvian, after the district of Riga, Latvia." 

Ilze Grudule

Baroque cellist, conductor and project director

Ilze Grudule was born in Latvia and has lived and worked in Switzerland since 1998, first in Geneva and then in Basel. In 2004 Ilze Grudule founded the “Kesselberg Ensemble” in Basel, which aims, among other things, to bring more Swiss and Latvian Baroque composers back into concert halls.

Ilze Grudule is the author and producer of a series of audiovisual productions that combine baroque and contemporary music with modern stage equipment. Recordings for Deutschlandfunk, Musiques Suisses, Chandos Records, cpo, Philips Record and Naxos document her activities.

From 2005 to 2016 she directed the “Baroque Music Days Rēzekne” (Latvia) and from 2008 to 2012 she has been teaching as a guest teacher at the Early music department of the Latvian Music Academy in Riga. In 2018 Ilze Grudule was nominated for the The Latvian Grand Music Award, the highest honor in her home country.


Since 2018 she has also been working as a conductor in Basel and the canton of Solothurn and since 2020 she has been the director of the Prima Vista Orchestra course at the Basel Music School. She is also the first cellist of the “Capriccio Baroque Orchestra” and is regularly invited to perform at various baroque ensembles and orchestras in Europe.

She is currently working on an extensive project: the complete edition of Johann Gottfried Müthel's instrumental concerts on CDs and as a New Urtext edition with the publisher “Musica Baltica” and since 2019 she has been working on a large-scale project: a Christmas oratorio with contemporary Swiss Composers Hans-Martin Linde, Lukas Huber and Christian Zehnder, Helena Winkelman and Burkhard Kinzler, as a canticum for the famous work by Johann Sebastian Bach.

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