April 13, 2017

Laurence Equilbey's Insula & Accentus ensembles open new Paris concert hall

The artists-in-residence at La Seine Musicale celebrate the venue's inauguration with a new Mozart album.

The all-Mozart Erato debut, in April 2017, of French conductor Laurence Equilbey and her two ensembles, accentus choir and Insula orchestra, is linked with the inauguration of a magnificent new performance venue: La Seine Musicale, which occupies an island in the River Seine just outside Paris.

The highly-anticipated new arts complex in Paris on the île Seguin opens this month with a series of concerts featuring Equilbey at the podium, with her youthful, vibrant period-instrument ensemble Insula as La Seine Musicale's orchestra-in-residence. La Seine Musicale was commissioned by the Conseil Départemental des Hauts-de-Seine, which also supports Insula orchestra.

To coincide with this major cultural event in the French capital, Erato has released Insula's label debut: Mozart's Coronation Mass and Solemn Vespers, with soloists including soprano Sandrine Piau (who also performs at the inauguration of La Seine Musicale).

“These two works are both in the Viennese ‘church trio’ style, without violas, they’re close to each other in time, and the sonority of the instrumentation is exactly the same,” explains Equilbey.

La Seine Musicale appears to float on the River Seine to the south west of the capital at Boulogne Billancourt. The multi-purpose music venue boasts two concert halls and will be at the heart of the cultural revitalisation of the area. As the resident of the 1,150-seat auditorium, Insula orchestra opens the new venue on 22 and 23 April with a programme including Mozart, and with Bertrand Chamayou, Sandrine Piau, Anaïk Morel, Stanislas de Barbeyrac and Florian Sempey among the soloists.

Architects Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines have conceived a structure like a boat floating on the Seine using the latest innovations in environmental technology and in sync with the days and the season. An adaptable sail constructed of solar panels moves around the central dome to maximize energy and to provide shade inside the building. The wood and glass dome - evocative of a nest - is repeated on the inside with overlapping wooden panels and suspended honeycomb panels to optimise acoustics. The acoustics have been honed by Nagata Acoustics and Lamoureux, world leaders in their field who recently completed the Philharmonie in Paris. Among the many activities and initiatives finding a home in this major arts complex is French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky's Académie Musicale for talented young musicians.

Insula orchestra will present its concert season at La Seine Musicale and will utilise the facilities for recordings.

Equilbey commented: "Finally the dream becomes a reality. What pride to be able to work, perform and pursue our art in this new location alongside other orchestras.

"At La Seine Musicale, Insula orchestra joins a wide range of acts making music reverberate to the beat of our time. It will be a meeting place for all, even those who don't think Mozart or Beethoven is for them. The rigours of discipline, passion and creativity –the values that guide us at the dawn of this new era - I hope these will echo amongst each one of you."

Equilbey's new Mozart album - Coronation Mass and Solemn Vespers - with accentus choir and Insula orchestra is out now.



Laurence Equilbey at La Seine MusicaleLaurence Equilbey at La Seine Musicale (photo: Julien Benhamou)