Cusco was a German cross-cultural New Age music band named after the Peruvian city of Cusco, which at one time was the capital city of the ancient Incan Empire. The band's music contains influences from music around the world, with a general emphasis on ancient South American flute sounds and melodies. Compared to the music of other new age artists, Cusco's music is quite melodic and usually energetic, and the band focused on creating a fusion of modern and ethnic styles with classical music influences and solid rock music sensibilities. Most of the ethnic instruments were keyboard-generated, giving the sound a synthetic quality.
The band was led by founders Michael Holm (Lothar Bernhard Walter; 1943–) and Kristian Schultze (1945–2011). Michael Holm, already a successful vocal artist, had long been fascinated with ancient cultures from around the world, and wanted to capture this fascination in the form of a musical tribute to the ancient worlds he wished to remember. He was already a friend of Kristian Schultze, formerly a member of the jazz band Passport, and the two discovered that they shared very similar musical and historical interests. In 1979, Cusco the band was formed and they released their first album in 1980, before terms such as "new age music" or "new instrumental music" were in use. They eventually signed with Higher Octave Music, releasing their first album on that label in 1988. Their albums consistently reached very high peaks on the instrumental/new age music sales charts. They were nominated for a Grammy award three times.
Some of their music is used as pre-show background music in Epcot prior to IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, and has been used as bumper music for the popular American syndicated radio program Coast to Coast AM, as well as several television advertisements including a Bud Ice beer commercial. Additionally, Cusco composed and performed fully symphonic new age music for the German television special Sielmann 2000. Until his death in 2011, Schultze resided in Weilheim in Oberbayern, Germany; Holm still lives there.
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