Ulrich Heinen was born in Ittenbach near Bonn in Germany. He studied at the Cologne Conservatoire under Siegfried Palm and at the Juilliard School of Music in New York with Leonard Rose. He won several national and international competitions: 1st prize of the Cello Competition of all German Music Colleges in Frankfurt, Rostropovich Competition in La Rochelle (France) and Vittorio Gui Competition in Florence (Italy). After graduating from Juilliard he took up the position of principal cello with the Radio Orchestra Saarbrücken, Germany and in the same year became member of the Czapary String Trio, earning an outstanding reputation for the interpretation of Mozart and Schubert.
In 1984 Ulrich Heinen settled in England, at Sir Simon Rattle’s invitation to become principal cellist and section leader of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. In 1987 he co-founded the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG), which subsequently became one of Britain’s most important ensembles for contemporary music. He has appeared with BCMG in many festivals in Britain and abroad, both as member of the ensemble and as soloist. He has recorded Mark Anthony Turnage’s ‘Kai’, which was written for him, for EMI and Bach’s Cello Suites together with cello solo pieces by Howard Skempton, Gerald Barry, Simon Holt, Bernd Alois Zimmermann and Hans Werner Henze for METIER (Divine-Arts).
Looking back, Ulrich’s out BCMG memories include visits to the USA: Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire in Carnegie Hall in New York and on a different visit to New York Thomas Adès Court Studies, at Zankel Hall. The tour to India with Judith Weir and several tours to Spain with Oliver Knussen. Also the festivals: Salzburg and Cologne with Simon Rattle conducting, as well as the BBC Prom in London with Schönberg’s first Chamber Symphony, live on TV. Another important highlight were the operas by Gerald Barry, The Importance of Being Earnest in London and in Birmingham and The Triumph of Beauty and Deceit, in Paris, Berlin, London and New York, as well as Thomas Adès’ opera Powder Her Face at the Aldeburgh Festival – unforgettable!
However, his most precious memory is the first performance of Mark Anthony Turnage’s Kai for cello and ensemble and the many, many subsequent performances, including the last one in 2011 at Symphony Hall in Birmingham, with Andris Nelsons conducting.