The Hamburg Ratsmusik Ensemble focuses particularly on early music. However, their repertoire encompasses music over a 500 year history. The members of the ensemble are Klaus Mertens, Ulrich Wedemeister and Simone Eckert and are vocalist, guitarist and viola da gamba player respectively.
Klaus Mertens works with many important names in 'Early Music', as it is generally known - specialists like Ton Koopman, Frans Brüggen, Nicholas McGegan, Philippe Herreweghe, René Jacobs, Sigiswald Kuijken, Gustav Leonhardt and Nikolaus Harnoncourt. He also works with many well-known classical conductors - Gary Bertini, Herbert Blomstedt and Sir Roger Norrington, for example.
This has resulted in some very successful work with famous orchestras, including the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, the Concertgebouw Orchester Amsterdam, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, all the big Berlin orchestras, as well as Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic, Zurich's Tonhalle Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.
Klaus Mertens is very well known and greatly in demand, particularly as an interpreter of the Baroque oratorio. He has repeatedly made recordings of Bach's main vocal works with different conductors. In October 2003, he completed a recording of Bach's entire cantatas. This was a ten-year project connected with extensive concert tours in Europe, America and Japan and marked a high point in his singing career. This was the first time ever that a singer had recorded the entire vocal works of Johann Sebastian Bach and also performed them in concert.
Ulrich Wedemeier first studied classical guitar under Klaus Hempel at the University of Music and Theatre in Hanover. This was followed by the study of lute instruments under Stephen Stubbs. Besides performing as a soloist and a member of early music ensembles in international concerts, he also makes CD and radio recordings a regular focus of his work.
Ulrich Wedemeier is much in demand as a guest at many opera houses. He is a specialist in historical guitars, playing rare 18th and 19th century original instruments.
Simone Eckert studied music under Professor Ingrid Stampa at the Hamburg University of Music, then at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis under Hannelore Mueller and Jordi Savall. After being awarded her Diploma in Early Music, she founded the Hamburg Ratsmusik Ensemble in 1991. She has been lecturing in music at the Hamburg Conservatory since 1992 and also holds various seminars in viola da gamba in Germany and England. She is an editor of Early Music for publishing houses such as Dovehouse Editions, New York, the Merseburger Verlag, Kassel etc. Her regular engagements include performances with the Staatsoper Hamburg as well as performances as a soloist and head of ensemble all over Germany, in Japan and in many European countries.