The baroque orchestra Les Passions

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LES PASSIONS - THE MONTAUBAN BAROQUE ORCHESTRA

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Théâtre du Capitole © Jean-Jacques Ader

“The intention of music is not only to please the ear, but to express sentiments, stir the imagination, affect the mind, and direct the emotions.” Geminiani, The Art of Playing on the Violin, 1751

Les Passions – The Montauban Baroque Orchestra was formed by recorder player Jean-Marc Andrieu in Toulouse in 1986 and is now in residency in Montauban. The ensemble varies in size and specializes in playing period instruments. Its artistic approach reconciles two principles: respect for early playing techniques and dynamic performance of the musical discourse.

Repertory

Les Passions plays a wide range of music. There are small instrumental ensembles, grand oratorios, historical shows (Une Soirée chez Riquet, Soirée Musicale chez Ingres), sometimes blending diverse influences (Mirages des Sons du Sud, Taiwanese music from the 17th and 18th Centuries). The orchestra shines in the performance of a variety of repertoires : French Baroque music (De Paris à Versailles, La Dynastie des Couperin), Italian Baroque (Vivaldi fioritura, Folies d'hier et d'aujourd'hui), German Baroque (Le Voyage à Lübeck, Une soirée à Potsdam), and English Baroque (Dowland and Purcell).

Musical collaborations

The Orchestra, conducted by its artistic director performs on its own or accompanied by singers, and it can accompany choirs under the direction of the choirmaster. It frequently collaborates with vocal ensembles, Le Choeur de Chambre Les Eléments and Le Choeur du Capitole from Toulouse. It stages original dance performances with the Sophie Carlin Compagny (Geminiani's The Enchanted Forest) and the James Carlès Compagny, set to the music of Chevalier de Saint George. 

Between 2004 to 2011, during a season in Toulouse, Les Passions developed various original aspects of Baroque music and invited renowned soloists such as S. Kuijken, P. Hantaï, E. Gatti, G. Laurens, I. Poulenard, R. Lislevand…

Regional, national and international renown

Les Passions was invited by the French Embassy in Rome (Palazzo Farnese) for Suona Francese, and by the following festivals : Oudemuziek in Utrecht (Netherlands), Musica, Historia I Art in Santander, Bilbao, Valencia (Spain), Amsterdam, as well as Switzerland, Hungary, and so on. It has also performed at prestigious events in Lessay, Sablé-sur-Sarthe, Pontoise, Lanvellec, Sylvanès, Rencontres de Musiques Anciennes en Midi-Pyrénées, Conques, Toulouse-les-Orgues, Sorèze, Strasbourg, etc.., and on the Island of Reunion. 

In 2011, 2013 and 2015, the orchestra took part in the Passions Baroque festival in Montauban, for which Jean-Marc Andrieu is the artistic director.

The Chaise-Dieu Festival has invited Les Passions three times to perform its famous triptych, dedicated both onstage as on CD to the composer Jean Gilles. Les Passions Orchestra, conduced by Joël Suhubiette, accompanied Les Elements Choir to celebrate its fifteenth anniversary in a performance of the Magnificat by Bach. This concert was followed by a tour of the Dixit Dominus by Handel. 

In 2013-2014, Jean-Marc Andrieu and Les Passions shared the stage at the Théâtre du Capitole conducted by Alfonso Caiani, performing Motets Versaillais by Rameau and Mondonville.

In the spring of 2014, the orchestra was invited by the French Embassies and Alliances Françaises in Bolivia and Peru, assisted by the French Institute. They embarked on a noteworthy tour of six concerts at the Misiones de Chiquitos Festival, in La Paz, Lima and Cuzco.

Discography

In accordance with the CD release policy of Les Passions on the Ligia label (distributed by Harmonia Mundi), one CD is realeased every year – each of which is a huge success. Con Voce Festiva (Scarlatti), Venitian Vespers (Porpora/Vivaldi), Noël Baroque Occitan with the Sacqueboutiers, and Beata est Maria, a collection of motets for three men's voices, by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, most of which have never been released before.

Since 2008, Jean-Marc Andrieu has worked to restore the major works of Jean Gilles composer. These have featured on three sucessive releases : Requiem (2008), Lamentations (2011) and Te Deum, Messe en Ré (2012). The 3-CD box set came out in 2013. FolieS! is the first purely instrumental CD by the orchestra. It high-lights the recorder, which is their musical director's favourite instrument. 

Rediscovering the legacy of French music

By virtue of his in-depth musicological and historical research, and considerable re-creation research into forgotten or lost scores, Jean-Marc Andrieu has established himself as being the world's specialist on Jean Gilles.

In October 2016, for the 30 years old of Les Passions, an international symposium will be organised in partnership with Jean Jaurès University in Toulouse : "Jean Gilles et les Maîtres du Baroques Méridional".

On this occasion we shall discover three unpublished Grands Motets of the French composer Antoine-Esprit Blanchard during diverse concerts in the Region. The record will be released in the same time.

Residence and supports

The orchestra is in residency in Montauban. It is subsidised by the City of Montauban, The Urban Community of Grand Montauban,  the Departmental Council of Tarn-et-Garonne and the city of Toulouse. The ensemble receives the grant which is available to approved ensembles from Midi-Pyrenées-Languedoc-Roussillon Region.  It regularly receives support from the SPEDIDAM, the French Institute and the Adami for recordings. It is a  and the ADAMI for its recordings. It is a member of the FEVIS (Specialized Federation of Vocal and Instrumental Ensembles).

JEAN-MARC ANDRIEU RECORDER PLAYER AND CONDUCTOR

Festival Oudemuziek d’Utrecht (Pays-Bas) © Joyce Vanderfesteen

J m andrieu2 utrecht c j vanderfesteenJean-Marc Andrieu began his musical studies at the Toulouse National Regional Conservatoire, where he swiftly obtained first prizes in recorder, chamber music and musical theory. He continued his musicological studies in Toulouse, where he developed a passion for early music. He left to hone his recorder playing and performance skills at the Sweelinck Academy in Amsterdam, learning from some of the greatest world specialists. He holds Certificates of Aptitude in recorder playing, choral conducting and academy direction. Jean-Marc Andrieu has been Director of Montauban Conservatoire since 1991. In 1986 in Toulouse, he formed a Baroque instrumental ensemble which has enjoyed growing renown. It became the Orchestre Baroque de Montauban in 1991, and then Les Passions in 2003. As conductor of the ensemble, he is regularly invited by many prestigious festivals.

In 2008, Jean-Marc Andrieu was awarded the Orphée d’Or at the 50th anniversary of the Academy of the Lyrical Disc at the Opéra Bastille; in 2009, the Coup de Coeur from the Occitanian Academy of Arts, Letters, Sciences and Popular Traditions in Toulouse; and in 2010, the Prix Charles Mouly from the Languedoc Academy of Arts, Letters and Science at the Senate rooms in Paris.

In addition to great works (The Saint Matthew Passion by Bach) and known pieces (The Four Seasons by Vivaldi) from Baroque repertoire, Jean-Marc Andrieu endeavours to revive works which have never been released before or have been forgotten. He shows the explorer’s spirit, unearthing rare scores and carrying out extremely important re-creation research. His onstage and recorded version of the complete works of Jean Gilles is an international benchmark.

His dual skills as conductor and choirmaster lead him to take part on a regular basis in programs and recordings of Baroque and lyrical music both in France and abroad. He is frequently invited to be a member on competition panels.