ensemble ambrosius

Olli Virtaperko (taken from the cd liner notes):

"Ensemble Ambrosius is a group that concentrates in contemporary music, using mostly baroque instruments.  Ambrosius was formed in 1995 and from the very beginning the music of american composer Frank Zappa (1940 - 1993) has been one or our main focusses.

The members of Ensemble Ambrosius have all gone through extensive studies of the performance practice of early music and have at some point studied in the Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, Finland.
I myself became interested in contemporary music and Zappa in high school - up until then i had only been involved with classical music.  However, as I continued my classical studies, I met the multi-instrumentalist Jonte Knif, who shared my Zappa-enthusiasm.  with harpsichordist Ere Lievonen we eventually performed 'Uncle Meat' with 2 harpsichords and a baroque cello in 1995.  This occured at the final concert of an early music summer course where the obois, Jasu Moisio, was present in the audience.  Soon after that Jasu joined us, and what was originally intended as a one-time musical joke led to the forming of Ensemble Ambrosius."


June 14, 2003, the Ensemble Ambrosius performed a Zappa set called "Baroque Zappa" at the Umeå Internationella Kammarmusik Festival. This festival took place from 2003/06/09 to 2003/06/15. A big part of the festival was dedicated to the music of Frank Zappa.

In 2007, the Ensemble Ambrosius contributed their version of Frank Zappa's 'The Idiot Bastard Son' to "20 Extraordinary Renditions", Andrew Greenaway's project that got released on Cordelia Records. 
The info says: from their wondrous BIS Records 'The Zappa Album' CD, arranged by Olli Virtaperko.
Personnel: Topi Lehtipuu (lead vocal); Matti Vanhamäki (baroque violins 1 & 3); Tuomo Suni (baroque violin 2); Josu Moisio (baroque oboe); Jani Sunnarborg (obor da caccia); Jonte Knif (dulcimer); Ere Lievonen (organ); Tuukka Terho (archlute); Olli Virtaperko (baroque cello, vocal)


The Ensemble Ambrosius opened the 2010 edition of the Zappanale festival with a concert in Hamburg. The ensemble also performed at the festival itself.
Napoleon Murphy Brock performed with the group on both occasions.
The pictures on the right wer taken by Steffen Schindler during the Ensemble's Zappanale performance.
There's more pictures a bit further below..




1 ensemble ambrosius: the zappa album
    (2000, cd, austria, bis/northern lights label bis-nl-cd-5013) – all compositions by frank zappa

2 ensemble ambrosius: metrix
    (2001, cd, ??, ??)
  various artists: 20 extraordinary renditions
    (2008, cd, uk, cordelia records) - all compositions by frank zappa

  various artists: zappanale 21 - promo-cd 2010
    (2009, cd-promo, ger, arf society)

zappanale21b_promo.jpg (24963 bytes)

  ensemble ambrosius: zappanale 21
    (2010, dvdr, ger, private release)

ens_ambrosius_dvdr_z21.jpg (16540 bytes)

  ensemble ambrosius feat. napoleon murphy brock: zappa spielt für bach
    (2011, cd, ger, s-j-s-edition nr.5) - lots of compositions by frank zappa  //  feat. napoleon murphy brock

ensemble_ambrosius_hamburgcd.jpg (19806 bytes)





  • 2010/08/13 concert "Zappanale", Bad Doberan, Germany
    • Ensemble Ambrosius
      • Olli Virtaperko: cello & leading, composition, arranging
        Veli Kujala: accordion, midi accordion
        Eira Karlson: violin
        Aija Kankaanranta: kantele
        Ere Lievonen: cembalo, toy piano, melodica, celestette & arranging
        Susanne Kujala: organ, melodika & celestette
        Joni Leino: percussion, Glockenspiel
        Napoleon Murphy Brock: vocal, flute
    • setlist
      • announcements (Jim Cohen), Night School, announcements (Olli Virtaperko), RDNZL, Son Of Orange County, Dupree's Paradise, The Black Page #2, announcements (Olli Virtaperko), Igor's Boogie, Echidna's Arf (Of You), announcements (Olli Virtaperko), Gach (Olli Virtaperko), Questa storia del mago non mi convince (Olli Virtaperko), announcements (Olli Virtaperko), Zoot Allures, Big Swifty, announcements (Olli Virtaperko), The Idiot Bastard Son (with NMB), announcements (Napoleon Murphy Brock), Aybe Sea, Gymnopédie No. 1 (Erik Satie) (with Napoleon Murphy Brock), Extract from Concert For Harpsichord in D (J.S. Bach) (by Napoleon Murphy Brock & Olli Virtaperko), Montana (with NMB)

    • encores

      • Let's Make The Water Turn Black (with NMB), announcements (Jim Cohen, Olli Virtaperko), Lines And Protuberances (by Olli Virtaperko)

    • the concert got released on a limited edition DVDR



Olli Virtaperko



random notes

2010 07

I know people who regard the Ensemble Ambrosius' "The Zappa Album" as one of the best albums of a band or ensemble that performs the music of Frank Zappa. I agree.
The Ensemble Ambrosius is scheduled to open the 2010 edition of the Zappanale festival with a concert in Hamburg. The ensemble will also perform at the festival itself. I took the opportunity to ask Olli Virtaperko a couple of questions.

UniMuta: You released your "Zappa" album in 2000. It's a fabulous record on which you perform Zappa's music on baroque instruments. I know that you performed it in concert at the Umea Festival in 2003, and I saw you performing it in Brugge, Belgium, in 2004. Do you get many occasions to perform?

Olli Virtaperko / Ensemble Ambrosius: During the past few years we've been performing only occationally. In 2005 we did a one-week tour in Sweden and in 2007 some concerts in Finland and one in St. Petersburg. That's about it for touring. There's not very much demand for an ambitious 7-piece group that plays weird music with unconventional instruments.

UniMuta: How does the Ensemble Ambrosius work? Is it an ongoing project? Do you have regular rehearsals, or is it project-related?

Olli Virtaperko / Ensemble Ambrosius: We perform so seldom that the only logical way to rehease the group is to do it by project-related basis.


UniMuta: You will be performing twice at the Zappanale Festival: The ensemble will do the opening concert in Hamburg (August 10, 2010), and you will be playing at the festival in Bad Doberan on Friday (August 13, 2010). What should we expect? Will you be playing the material from "The Zappa Album"? Other material?

Olli Virtaperko / Ensemble Ambrosius: We'll have a program that consists both Zappa and my own compositions. Most of the Zappa pieces will be from The Zappa Album, but re-arranged, as we have some new instruments, such as a Finnish folk music instrument kantele, whish blends very nicely with broque instruments.  However, we also plan to play some new Zappa pieces as well. And Napoleon Murphy Brock will be joining us in both Hamburg and Bad Doberan, so that brings an extra flavour to the events with some potentially surprising new repertoire.

UniMuta: Having recorded an album with Zappa material, I can imagine that you're into the music of Frank Zappa. Will you be staying the three days of the Zappanale festival & are their bands that you want to see?

Olli Virtaperko / Ensemble Ambrosius: I have not have had time to study the program properly, but the little that I've seen looks very promising. Some major Zappa musicians are partisipating the festival, so I'd imagine it will be both interesting and fun.

UniMuta: The Ensemble Ambrosius has released a second album, "Metrix", with pieces that were written by you and by Jonte Knif. Is this the new direction that the Ensemble will be taking? Will you be performing material from "Metrix" as well?

Olli Virtaperko / Ensemble Ambrosius: I would imagine some material of "Metrix" will be played, but as far as our own music is concerned I think we'll concentrate on more recent material. We will be performing 'GACH' and 'Questa storia del mago non mi convince'. Both are written by me. Stylistically those two pieces lie in the category of "modal, jazz-rock-influenced music that utilize some classical compositional approaches", but we'll also play a couple of purely "conteporay classical" pieces of mine. As far as stylistical diversity of our program is concerned I'd like to say that I like to mix things and styles within a concert program, but in individual compositions I prefere to make clear stylistical choises and stick in them - in that sense I'm a conservative-sort-of-a-personality with little interest in "cross-over" as such. My main job and passion is composing music. But I also understand that the concept of Ambrosius is built on Zappa, so it will stay as the core of our doings also in future - which is nice, by the way: it's wonderful music and great fun to play. I'm lucky enough to have lots of other compositional commissions so that I  don't have to overload Ambrosius with my own music to fullfill my personal musical ambitions. I think the balance that we now have between Zappa and our own material (50-50) is fine.

UniMuta: Thank you very much Olli. These concerts are something I don't want to miss.

The dates to remember are August 10 for the St.Katharinen-concert in Hamburg, and August 13 for the Zappanale concert in Bad Doberan.
I was fortunate to hear both the 'GACH' and the
'Questa storia del mago non mi convince' pieces, and these sound great. I hope that both of these compositions will make the program as they would fit in very nice with the Zappa material.



Here are some more pictures from the Ensemble's Zappanale 21 concert.
Pictures taken by Steffen Schindler.


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