|Huelgas Ensemble - Bio|
HUELGAS ENSEMBLE: BIOGRAPHY
For over forty years the Huelgas Ensemble has been one of the most celebrated ensembles specialising in the performance of polyphonic music from the Medieval and Renaissance periods. The ensemble is well known worldwide for its inventive programming, particularly of unknown masterpieces, delighting audiences again and again with fresh perspectives and the purest intonation.
The Huelgas Ensemble has performed in some of the world’s finest musical centres, including the BBC Proms in London, the Lincoln Center in New York, the Cité de la musique in Paris, the Berliner Philharmonie, the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon, as well as the Centro Cultural de Belem (Lisbon). The ensemble also appears regularly at the greatest festivals for early music, where it often performs in its ‘natural habitat’ of ancient chapels, churches and abbeys, thus building an interdisciplinary bridge between architecture and polyphony through its concerts.
Performances by the Huelgas Ensemble are characterized by an in-depth knowledge of the aesthetics and concepts of musical and vocal practices of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. The media and critics alike regularly heap praise on the ensemble for its lively and innovative approach to the repertoire, continuously setting the highest standards in its field. It is precisely for this reason that more and more contemporary composers seek the ensemble out to perform their works (Rihm, MacMillan).
The discography of the Huelgas Ensemble is comprised of over one hundred editions of vocal and instrumental works from the thirteenth to the beginning of the seventeenth century, for example: Dufay, Brumel, de Rore, Richafort, de Kerle, Ferrabosco, Palestrina, Lassus and Ashewell. These recordings have appeared on a variety of labels, including Seon, Sony Classical, Harmonia Mundi France, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Cypres and ECM. The discography of recent years includes The Eton Choirbook, The treasures of Claude Le Jeune, Le mystère de Malheur me bat, L’héritage de Petrus Alamire, The ear of Zurbáran, Firminus Caron - Twighlight of the Middle Ages, The mirror of Monteverdi, The ear of the Huguenots, ‘Et lux’, a work by the German composer Wolfgang Rihm, scored for eight singers and string quartet, and Francesca Caccini’s ‘La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola d’Alcina’, the first recording of the opera to include reconstructed instrumental dances.
Awards include: various Caecilia prizes from the Belgian press, ‘Choc du Monde de la Musique’ and ‘Diapason d’Or’, the ‘Edison Prize’, ‘Cannes Classical Award’ for Early Music, ‘Prix in Honorem’ of the Académie Charles Cros, the ‘Carrièreprijs’ of the classical music radio station ‘Klara’, a commendation of the ‘Europese Radio-Unie’ and the Canadian Broadcasting Cooperation, the ‘Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik’, the German music award ‘Echo Klassik’ 1994, 1997, 2010 and 2011, alongside the ‘Diapason d'Or de l'année 2014’ and the ‘Diapason d'Or de l'année 2015’. Most recently the ensemble was awarded a ‘Choc du mois’ in the February 2017 edition of ‘Classica’ magazine and a ‘Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik’ (Bestenliste 1/2017) for the CD recording The mirror of Monteverdi.
Geert van Istendael | Belgian writer, essayist and lover of music | writes about Huelgas Ensemble:
Anyone, who in the seventies had the privilege to have attended one of the first concerts of Paul Van Nevel with the fledgling group Huelgas Ensemble, is still talking about it today. Two words spring to mind: awe and ecstasy. The ecstasy has remained, even after more than three decades. The awe at listening to the unfamiliar, new sounds of this ancient music, an echo from many hundreds of years ago, should normally ebb away with time. But it does not. The reason being Huelgas Ensemble does not want to leave the public stage. Time and again, it rejuvenates the works of those previously unheard of masters. Never are Paul or his vocalists fed up, never is their audience bored and any new audience is always over the moon.