SPARK becomes ORBIT. In 2022 we ignited the spark for a new, novel festival format in Cologne, dedicated to experimental music theatre in all its forms and colours. After this successful first launch, we are going into the second round in 2024 with a new name, new productions and, as always, a whole bunch of surprises.

ORBIT stands for a genre that unites the different disciplines – music, theatre, literature, dance and visual arts – at eye level and is characterised by collective, transdisciplinary work, experimental approaches, a willingness to take risks, radical thinking and relevance to current events. Contemporary music theatre thrives on the interconnection of fields, on borderline experiences and dealing with them, on the pooling of forces and cooperation, on the smooth interlocking of different processes on several levels at the same time. When the artistic disciplines do not work separately from each other but perform together, boundaries can be broken down and energies released.

ORBIT is a festival of encounter and exchange. The invitation to a convivial get-together and collective experience is extended just as warmly to the artists as to the audience. The festival represents the vision of a cultural future defined by the values of an open, diverse, solidary, respectful and pluralistic society. What is to be experienced on stage will be dazzling, sensual and diverse. It may touch and disturb, it may raise socially relevant issues and focus on political hotspots. Together we want to celebrate a sensual experience that goes beyond intellectual reception. No one has to be an expert in new music, contemporary dance or experimental theatre!

ORBIT has always pursued the goal of restoring contemporary music theatre to the position it enjoyed in Cologne for decades. Under the motto “cooperation instead of competition”, ORBIT pursues an intensive networking of the Cologne art scene in order to develop a supra-regional appeal. Together with high-calibre and internationally active artists of various disciplines, we provide an impetus to create sustainable production conditions for contemporary, independent music theatre and to open up new locations for the scene in the long term: adequate rehearsal rooms, storage space and stages.

ORBIT is being realised on the initiative and under the artistic direction of composer/musician Christina C. Messner and director Sandra Reitmayer. The new platform for artists of the independent scene from Cologne, Germany and other European countries is being developed in close cooperation between the two artists, the organiser and sponsor ON – Neue Musik Köln e.V. and the production office littlebit.

Artistic direction

Two artists from different disciplines, Christina C. Messner (composer, violinist and performer) and Sandra Reitmayer (theatre director), have come together in order to revive, build up and expand sustainable networks, cooperations, connections and platforms for contemporary music theatre in their adopted home of Cologne, as well as initiating the SPARK festival.

Christina C. Messner has been engaged in linking together different fields and investigating interdisciplinary approaches ever since she studied music in Würzburg. She has developed, produced and organised numerous projects, often involved as a performer herself, and has worked with renowned artists from various disciplines. Christina C. Messner’s compositions have been performed on concert, theatre and festival stages, both nationally and internationally, as well as on radio.

Sandra Reitmayer studied theatre direction at Folkwang University of the Arts and curation in the performing arts at the University of Salzburg. She is a founding member of the Bochum theatre collective undBorisundSteffi and part of the Cologne music theatre label Paradeiser Productions, with whom she has already developed various transdisciplinary formats. Sandra Reitmayer has staged pieces in the independent scene in NRW as well as realising bilingual projects in Palestine, Luxembourg, Romania and China.

Project management

littlebit supports the planning, organisation and execution of ambitious  independent contemporary art projects. As a production office, littlebit forms the interface between the artistic draft and practical realisation of individual concerts and productions or takes on the complete organisational management of whole series of events and festivals.


Promoter and sponsor

ON – Neue Musik Köln e.V. is a network for contemporary music and serves as a resource for those involved in the independent scene, for sponsors and friends of contemporary music. ON’s remit is to improve the visibility of projects and protagonists in the independent scene, to offer support, guidance and empowerment to independent contemporary music artists and to realise their own projects.



  • Christina C. Messner

    Artistic direction

  • Sandra Reitmayer

    Artistic direction

  • Eva Maria Müller

    Project management lead, littlebit

  • Lukas Becker

    Technical direction, littlebit

  • Daniel Mennicken

    Managing Director, ON Cologne

  • Wiebke Spieker

    Project management, Management (Representation), ON Cologne

  • Verena Hahn

    Public Relations, ON Cologne

  • Kimberly Severijns

    Project management, On Cologne

  • Lara Weiß

    Project management, littlebit

  • Christina von Richthofen

    Press Relations, get2gesther

  • Maike Graf

    Social Media, get2gesther


ORBIT – Festival for contemporary music theater is supported by the Cultural Office of the City of Cologne, the Art Foundation NRW and the Performing Arts Fund.

In cooperation with the Cologne Opera, Un-Label and Stimme X.

This year’s supporters are the Old Fire Station Cologne, the Orangerie Theater, the Cologne University of Music and Dance, the Brunnen e.V. (Ebertplatz) and the concert room 674FM.

Media partner: stadtrevue

Ticketing partner: walked out