The Ensemble Gilles Binchois, founded in 1979, bears the hallmark of a group dedicated to the discovery and interpretation of music from the Middle Ages. Unaffected by fads or fashions, the group has remained completely loyal to its objectives, which include close study of the various repertoires (especially French) and of their relationship with music of the oral tradition, study of different types of notation, and an attempt to achieve the vocal and instrumental sonorities appropriate to these repertoires.
The Ensemble has deliberately chosen to accept only those engagements which fit in with the goals it has set for itself, devoting the time required for research and preparation of the programs offered. This self-imposed discipline may have slowed development of the group's public image, but it has fostered the maintenance of extremely valuable contacts and privileged relationships with musicologists, instrument makers and record companies who have nourished and stimulated the group's creative work.
In the course of the last ten years, the arrival of numerous specialized artists of different nationalities has enriched the quality of the Ensemble.
The Ensemble Gilles Binchois has received public recognition throughout Europe as the result of its recordings, tours and concerts (Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Switzerland as well as Hungary, Baltic Countries, Poland, Czechoslovakia with the help of the Association Française d'Action Artistique and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
In France, the Ensemble is subsidized by the Counseil Régional of Burgundy and the Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles de Dijon.
The Ensemble Gilles Binchois is directed by Dominique Vellard, one of the most distinguished scholar-performers working in the field of medieval music (see below). He is one of the driving forces behind the influential Center for Medieval Music in Paris.
The Ensemble changes its constitution to fit the chosen program. Frequent participants include: Philippe Balloy (voice), Emmanuel Bonnardot (voice, fiddle), Randall Cook (fiddle, winds), Pierre Hamon (winds), Anne-Marie Lablaude (voice), Brigitte Lesne (voice, harp), Lena-Susanne Norin (voice), Gerd Türk (voice), Dominique Vellard (voice, lute), Willem de Waal (voice)…. Specific performer information is included in the citations below.
Ensemble Gilles Binchois was worked with a wide range of recording companies, and continues to have a variety of programs under production. Several recordings have been made, but have yet to appear. In many cases, preparatory work done by Vellard & the Ensemble appears before the general record-buying public first in the form of similar programs released more quickly by related ensembles. Although some have criticized the "definitive" quality which Vellard brings to his productions, as being less emotionally charged than that of other groups, the attention to detail can only be admired. In the end, emotion without depth of acquaintance is fleeting, and Ensemble Gilles Binchois' depth can reveal itself over very many hearings.
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