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Les Violons du Roy

Les Violons du Roy

The chamber orchestra Les Violons du Roy borrows its name from the renowned string orchestra of the court of the French kings. The group specializes in the vast repertoire of music for chamber orchestra, performed in the stylistic manner most appropriate to each era.



The chamber orchestra Les Violons du Roy borrows its name from the renowned string orchestra of the court of the French kings. The group, which has a core membership of fifteen players, was brought together in 1984 by music director Bernard Labadie and specializes in the vast repertoire of music for chamber orchestra, performed in the stylistic manner most appropriate to each era. Although the ensemble plays on modern instruments, its approach to the works of the Baroque and Classical periods has been strongly influenced by current research into performance practice in the 17th and early 18th centuries; in this repertoire Les Violons du Roy uses copies of period bows. The orchestra has been widely acclaimed for the exceptional energy, brilliance and vitality of its performances. In recent seasons, under the leadership of first guest conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni, the orchestra has begun to explore 19th and 20th century repertoire in more depth.

Les Violons du Roy is at the heart of the music scene in Québec City, where it has been in residence at the Palais Montcalm since 2007. The orchestra is well known throughout Canada thanks to the numerous concerts and recordings broadcast by Société Radio-Canada and CBC, and its regular presence at music festivals. Les Violons du Roy first performed in Europe in 1988 and has since given dozens of concerts in France, Germany, England, Spain and the Netherlands, with internationally-renowned soloists including Magdalena Kozená, David Daniels and Vivica Genaux. The orchestra has been asked to perform twice at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. A new European tour has been planned for fall 2011.

Since its first performance in Washington in 1995, Les Violons du Roy has extended its performance network in the United States and now makes regular stops in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The orchestra has been heard frequently on NPR, and is now represented by the Opus 3 Artists agency. The high point of the 2009-2010 season was the performances of Handel's Messiah and Bach's Christmas Oratorio with La Chapelle de Québec and an outstanding array of soloists (Rosemary Joshua, David Daniels, Jan Kobow, Andrew Foster-Williams and Joshua Hopkins), part of a US tour that took the orchestra and choir to Carnegie Hall in New York and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The concerts received remarkably positive reviews, in particular from the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

The twenty-one recordings made by Les Violons du Roy have been acclaimed by critics and earned various distinctions and awards at the national and international levels. Of twelve CDs released by DORIAN, two won Juno Awards (Apollo e Dafne (Handel) and Requiem (Mozart)). Since 2004, the association with the Québec label ATMA has led to six CDs, including Water Music, recorded in the Raoul-Jobin Hall in the new Palais Montcalm and winner of a Félix Award in 2008; Piazzolla, conducted by Jean-Marie Zeitouni and winner of a Juno Award in 2006; and Britten, Les Illuminations with soprano Karina Gauvin, also directed by Jean-Marie Zeitouni and released in summer 2010. The CD Bonbons, also on ATMA label, was released in fall 2010. The group's first collaboration with the multinational VIRGIN CLASSICS label led to the release in fall 2006 of a CD of cantata arias by Handel and Hasse with US mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux. Two other recordings have been made with VIRGIN CLASSICS featuring C.P.E. Bach's cello concertos with the Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk and J.S. Bach's keyboard concertos with the French pianist Alexandre Tharaud. The most recent recording, presenting arias by Mozart, Haydn, Gluck and Graun with the contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux, was produced for the NAÏVE label. The orchestra Les Violons du Roy is a proud member of Orchestras Canada, the national association representing Canada's orchestras.
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