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Vienna Art Orchestra


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The Vienna Art Orchestra is a European big band based in Vienna, Austria. It is regarded as one of the leading European jazz ensembles and is an official cultural ambassador of the Republic of Austria.
Founded in 1977 by director and composer Mathias Rüegg, the band started out by performing Rüegg’s distinctive postmodern compositions on stages throughout Europe. Among the founding musicians were saxophonists Wolfgang Puschnig and Harry Sokal, singer Lauren Newton, and tuba player Jon Sass. In 1980 the ensemble signed a recording contract with the Swiss hatART label, and in 1984 it toured the United States for the first time.

The group essentially disbanded for a brief period at the end of the 1980s. In 1992 the VAO opened a new phase with a smaller complement of musicians. The band played fewer of Rüegg’s compositions and concentrated on arrangements of works by Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and other noted American jazz composers, as well as music inspired by the classical music of Verdi, Wagner, Schubert, and Erik Satie.

In 1997 the ensemble’s personnel changed once again, increasing in size and adding younger musicians. New compositions by Rüegg became a regular feature of VAO concerts, which often included visual and dramatic elements.

The Vienna Art Orchestra has performed more than 800 concerts and released more than 35 recordings. The film An Echo from Europe: Vienna Art Orchestra on Tour by Othmar Schmiderer was released in 1998.

The ensemble was nominated for an Amadeus Austrian Music Award in 2001 for the album All That Strauss, and again in 2003 for Art and Fun.


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  • Tarlesin

    Art and Fun !

    23 Apr 2009 Reply
  • LondonLouis

    Just stumbled on this band through hobo ho, which is very decent. Will certainly be coming back to them.

    8 Feb 2009 Reply
  • Feel-Xwaltz

    i love them

    13 Jan 2009 Reply
  • hazymat

    Oh I absolutely adore this group. Although my profile may not show it, I've been listening to them non stop for the last couple of years! Saw them first at London Jazz Festival. Blew me away.

    19 Sep 2008 Reply
  • S_o_o_t_y

    21 Jun 2008 Reply
  • peternh

    Anyone have any idea how I could get hold of a copy of The Minimalism of Erik Satie? I have a vinyl copy bought in 1983 (I think) and it's time for the CD. But everywhere is showing it unavailable. Help!

    15 Nov 2007 Reply
  • funkhunter

    Mathias Rüegg is a genius!!! And those musicians... amazing!

    2 Oct 2007 Reply
  • maewe

    This guys are awesome, why are they so unknown ??

    9 Jul 2007 Reply

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