Since 1979 Dominique Vellard has been the inspirational driving force behind the Ensemble Gilles Binchois – some three decades of research and performance that have led to the creation of some of the essential recordings in the catalogue, especially of music from the medieval and early Renaissance periods. An outstanding series of recordings devoted to the music of Machaut, the École de Notre-Dame, the Burgundian School and early polyphony on labels such as Virgin Classics, Harmonic Records, Ambroisie and Deutsche Harmonia Mundi have been met by public, critical and musicological acclaim. The Ensemble Gilles Binchois performs regularly across Europe, from Estonia to Spain and from Scotland to the Ukraine as well as in Morocco, India, Malaysia and the United States.
Dominique Vellard’s passion for music from plainchant to the 17th century was nurtured as a choral singer at the Maîtrise de Notre-Dame in Versailles. In more recent years, Vellard has expanded his interests into other repertories – Southern and Northern India, as well as Spanish and Breton traditions – and he also has quite a passion for the composers such as Monteverdi and the lesser-known Guillaume Nivers (a contemporary of Charpentier). In all such vocal explorations he leads the way with his own distinctive tenor voice. However, for his first collaboration with Glossa – and for the label’s own desire to create new artistic visions – an additional facet of Dominique Vellard’s musical character is on display. In Vox nostra resonet Vellard has presented himself as the composer of five vocal works scored for a small number of voices from the Ensemble Gilles Binchois, for which he turned to profound religious texts (the Stabat mater, the Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross), drawing deeply on his own spiritual learnings as much as his experience and interests in monodies and polyphonies from both the Western and the Eastern traditions.
Other representations of Dominique Vellard’s musical explorations include the Ensemble Vox Suavis (formed with Ana-Isabel Arnaz), dedicated principally to traditional Spanish repertoires, and the trio Neuma (with Marcus Weiss, saxophones and Raitis Grigalis, baritone), which explores the meeting points between early chant and the avant-garde. Vellard has been teaching at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis since 1982 and directs both the Rencontres Internationales de Musique Médiévale at Thoronet and the Les Meslanges de Printemps Festival in Dijon.
Since starting making recordings for Glossa in 2007 Dominique Vellard has been demonstrating the broad range of interests which have been so influential over the thirty years of the career of his Ensemble Gilles Binchois and which help to make up this complex musical personality. From the earliest polyphonies interspersed with Gregorian Chant (in L’Arbre de Jessé and the reissued Music and Poetry in St Gallen) to 21st century compositions from Vellard himself and Jean-Pierre Leguay (in Vox nostra resonet and Motets croisés) by way of the 17th century polyphony of Monteverdi, Schütz and Frescobaldi, some of the facets of Vellard’s continuing interest in religious music have been reflected on the label. [read more...]
“It is the same effect as when you see the sun shining through stained-glass windows in a church: suddenly all the colours are singing.”
After nearly three decades of carving out a niche (as rich as Romanesque statuary found in the Burgundy where he lives and works), Dominique Vellard has returned with a new vigour for performing (and recording), whether it is with his colleagues from the Ensemble Gilles Binchois or as a solo singer. The tenor voice of this deeply-thinking musician has the capacity to explore and explain the messages and subtleties of liturgical traditions that range far beyond the Western tradition. [read more...]
I began to compose seriously back in 1999. Prior to that I always liked making song arrangements or fauxbourdons, or writing pieces ‘in the style’ of, for instance, 14th or 15th century songs. Very often in the medieval field, of course, we need to add some voices or to complete some defective parts. I had no real desire to compose – I didn’t think that it was my field. I was a singer, after all, and music from the past is so good, whether it was from composers of the 17th century or Ligeti. Then, one day, in Sheffield in England, I was asked by Peter Cropper of The Lindsays whether there were any chants in existence that could accompany Haydn’s Seven Last Words. On not finding any interesting pieces in the repertory and whilst being at home, I started writing three-part pieces – for my wife, my daughter and myself. I was I bit surprised to see that it was working and on finishing the compositions I found that they had some sense! [read more...]