The Bach Collegium Stuttgart was founded in 1965 by Helmuth Rilling as the instrumental partner for the Gächinger Kantorei and has been administered and funded by the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart since 1981. The group’s complete recording of the sacred cantatas and oratorios of Johann Sebastian Bach, released during the composer’s 300th anniversary year in 1985, raised its profile as a leading Baroque music ensemble performing in a historically-informed style. But the Bach Collegium mainly performs on modern instruments. In this way, it can constantly expand its repertoire and it is now a highly flexible orchestra which is capable of expertly performing works of all periods. Numerous recordings, particularly those on the Bachakademie’s own label hänsslerCLASSIC, including several premieres, illustrate the group’s versatility.
In Stuttgart, the Bach Academy and the Bach Collegium perform an extensive series of concerts featuring oratorios from centuries past as well as a series of Bach Cantatas. The orchestra also performs at the Stuttgart Music Festival regularly. The Bach Collegium often performs its own instrumental programmes, for example at the annual birthday concert for Johann Sebastian Bach on 21 March and at guest concerts at home and abroad. This is connected with an especially close collaboration with pianist Angela Hewitt, who has currently accompanied the group on three Italy tour since 2009, and with Evgeni Koroliov, who will be joining them on tour in 2011.
Helmuth Rilling is the artistic director of the Bach Collegium of Stuttgart, but the orchestra often works together with guest conductors, e.g. Masaaki Suzuki, Ton Koopman, Martin Haselböck, Alexander Liebreich, Olari Elts, Hansjörg Albrecht and Matthew Halls. The group most recently recorded 'The Vespers' by Alessandro Grandi. The Bach workshops offered by the Bach Academy and Helmuth Rilling across the world are also influenced significantly by the course work of instructors involved with the Bach Collegium.