Biography of the Ensemble

The Ensemble William Byrd takes its name from the most important English composer active in the Tudor period, whose music was the basis of our repertoire in the early days of the Ensemble. On the cusp between the Renaissance and Baroque periods, his works and career illustrate much of what Graham O’Reilly seeks to do with the Ensemble – bring out the contrasts between different periods and styles, and the evolution of approach necessary for convincing performances. Persuaded that the insights provided by diversity can only add to the quality of its interpretations, the Ensemble proposes three hundred years of vocal music – from 1450 to 1750.

Biographie de l'Ensemble

For more than twenty years now, the Ensemble William Byrd has been regularly invited to many of the largest Early Music festivals, in France, thoughout Europe, and further afield. Our earliest concerts were often devoted to some of the greatest and most ambitious works: Tallis’s Spem in alium for 40 voices, and Biber’s huge Missa Salisburgensis, both for the Festival de la Chaise-Dieu. Among others were Ecce beatam lucem (another 40 part motet, by Striggio) and Brumel’s Missa Et ecce terrae motus for 12 voices (Festival des Cathédrales de Picardie, 1996), the Monteverdi Vespers, and Handel’s Dixit Dominus and La Resurrezione.

Since then, our story has been identified with certain key works:

Domenico Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater for 10 voices (available on CD)  
2006 : Festival Musica Antigua, Sevilla; Festival of World Sacred Music, Girona; South Bank Early Music Week-end, London ; Argenteuil
2005 : Festival Musica Sacra, Madrid; Callas
2004 : Festival van Vlaanderen, Tongeren
2003 : Festivals of Sylvanès; Fontmorigny; Ambronay
2002 : Paris (Les Concerts Parisiens); Festival des Abbayes du sud de la Vendée; Cons-la-Grandville; Toulouse
2001 : Early Music Festival, Utrecht; tour of Abbeys in Normandie; Poitiers; Festival des Cathédrales de Picardie
2000 : Festivals of St Riquier; Île de France; Mafra (Portugal)
1999 : Festivals of Froville; St Michel-en-Thiérache; Périgord Noir
1997 : Perpignan; L’Epine; Pontoise

The Miserere of Gregorio Allegri and Tommaso Bai (new version available on CD)
Since 2000, we have usually performed it in the same programme as the Scarlatti Stabat Mater
Other combinations:
2011 : Pontigny (with Music for the Sistine Chapel)
2006 : Early Music Festival of Stockholm (with music by Charpentier)
2004 : Festival de Bergen (Norway); Steinfurt (Germany)
2002 : Sinfonia en Périgord (with other Misereres, as on the CD)
2000 : Festival d’Ambronay (with other Misereres, as on the CD)
1997 : St Georges de Boscherville (with Italian 17th century music)

Masterpieces by Marc-Antoine Charpentier and Henry Purcell (both also available on CD)
2011 : Festival du Val d’Yerres; Collège des Bernadins, Paris
2009 : Villers-Cotterets
2008 : Souvigny; La Ferté-Milon
2007 : Pontoise; La Chaise-Dieu
2006 : Los Angeles and New York (USA); Maguelone; Magny-en-Vexin
2005 : Moscou and St Petersburg; Malta; Talmont sur Gironde
2004 : Paris; Callas; Souvigny; Brussels; Steinfurt (Allemagne); Sannois
2003 : Festival Polifonico d’Arezzo; Abbaye de Port-Royal
2002 : Early Music Festival, Utrecht; Steinfurt (Allemagne)
2001 : Pontoise; Pont Audemer; Enghien-les-Bains

William Byrd, Thomas Tallis and their contemporaries (Tallis available on CD)
2012 : Festival de la Chaise-Dieu, Priéure de Grammont
2009 : Festival des Abbayes de Lorraine
2005 : Festival Renaissances (Bar le Duc); St Genis Laval; Festival du Haut Jura (St Claude) ; Candes St Martin
2003 : Festival l’Aura des Arts (Aubazine)
2001 : Festival de musique sacrée de Lourdes

Sacred music from Spain, Portugal and Mexico (portuguese music available on CD)
2008 : Jornadas Gulbenkian de Musica Antiga (Lisbon); Fondacion Gulbenkian (Paris)
2007 : Festival de Clos-Lucé
2006 : Festival de St Michel en Thiérache; South Bank Early Music Week-end, London; Evora (Portugal)
2005 : Festival Île de France (Champeaux); St Riquier; Ambronay
2004 : Festival Musica Antiga de Barcelona; Vantaa Baroque Festival (Finland); Sannois
2000 : Jornadas Gulbenkian de Musica Antiga (Lisbon)

Lassus : Prophetiae Sibyllarum
2007 : Festival d’Île de France (Larchant)
2004 : Les Heures Musicales de la Chaux de Fonds (Switzerland)
2003 : Festival of L’Escarène; Naumburg (Germany)
2002 : Euphonia en Sologne

Baroque music from Eastern Europe – Michna and his contemporains
2002 : Early Music Festival, Utrecht; Festival d’Ile de France (Versailles)

Baroque music from Eastern Europe – Polish Baroque (also available on CD)
2008 : Eglise des Invalides, Paris (for the Fondation Orange)
2007 : Festival of Ambronay

The Fairy Queen (Henry Purcell)
2003 : Festival van Vlaanderen, Brugge
2001 : Festival of Besançon

Le Malade Imaginaire (Marc-Antoine Charpentier)
2004 : Lufthansa Festival of London

Les voix de cristal
2012 : Epinay sur Sénart, Festival of Clos Lucé

A discography of reference, recognised by the specialized press

Among our recordings are definitive versions of :
- Domenico Scarlatti’s Stabat mater a dieci voci (Diapason d’Or, 10 de Répertoire, Recommandé par Classica)
- Allegri’s Miserere (Choc du Monde de la Musique, 5 Goldberg, Diapason d’Or)
- Sacred Music by Charpentier – Extremum Dei judicium, Salve Regina à trois chœurs,  Motet des Trépassés (Orphée d’or de l’Académie du disque)
- Handel’s Dixit Dominus
- Carissimi’s Historia Jephte


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