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Laurence Equilbey

Conductor
Artistic Director, accentus choir and Insula orchestra

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Laurence Equilbey in the New York Times

Laurence Equilbey in the New York Times

“A pioneer” – thus wrote the New York Times in describing conductor Laurence Equilbey, in their feature interview – read here – ahead of her performances of Haydn’s Die Schöpfung at Lincoln Center this week Equilbey will be making her highly-anticipated Mostly Mozart Festival début with her Insula orchestra and accentus choir, and the three ...

Laurence Equilbey and “La Nonne Sanglante” – an epic Gounod journey at the Opéra Comique Paris

Laurence Equilbey and “La Nonne Sanglante” – an epic Gounod journey at the Opéra Comique Paris

Conductor Laurence Equilbey leads the way with her Insula orchestra for a historic revival of a rarely-heard Gounod masterpiece, La Nonne Sanglante, at the Opéra Comique in Paris this month  The five-act opera, which was only Gounod’s second work in the genre, features a libretto dealing with gothic, supernatural themes, and this highly-anticipated ‘resurrection’ of ...

Biography

Conductor and musical director of Insula orchestra and accentus choir, Laurence Equilbey is known for her demanding yet open-minded approach to her art. Her exploration of the symphonic repertoire has seen her conduct the Orchestre national de Lyon, Hessischer Rundfunk, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Akademie für alte Musik Berlin, Camerata Salzburg, Concerto Köln, and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Bruxelles, amongst others.

In 2012 Laurence Equilbey founded Insula orchestra with the Département des Hauts-de-Seine, an ensemble devoted to the Classical and Pre-Romantic repertoire, who perform on period instruments. Insula is the resident orchestra at La Seine Musicale in Paris, where Laurence Equilbey is responsible for programming about 30 classical concerts per season. She is also an associate artist of the Grand Théâtre de Provence in Aix-en-Provence, Artistic Director and Director of Education at the Department for Young Singers at the Conservatoire de Paris and a companion of the Philharmonie de Paris.

Laurence Equilbey’s extensive recording work on the Naïve label, which includes Mozart’s Requiem with accentus and Insula (2014), has received wide critical acclaim. In September 2015 she released her first CD for Deutsche Grammophon, Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice with renowned countertenor Franco Fagioli. A recording of Mozart’s Coronation Mass with accentus and Insula was released on the Warner label in 2017, followed by Nacht und Träume, Schubert Lieder with orchestra. Gounod’s Comala, recorded in Copenhagen with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Choir, has just been released.

Laurence Equilbey is an accomplished opera conductor and has worked with many major opera houses, including Theater an der Wien, Opéra Comique and Opéra de Paris. In June 2018 she will conduct a newly commissioned production of La Nonne Sanglante at Opéra Comique, to celebrate Gounod’s 200th birthday.

Highlights of the 2016-17 season included the 200th anniversary concert of Niels Gade with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Choir, filmed for Danish TV, the opening gala concert of La Seine Musicale featuring Sandrine Piau, and an astounding production of Haydn’s Creation staged by the Catalan group Fura dels Baus.

This season opened with Beethoven’s Egmont, directed by Séverine Chavrier, at La Seine Musicale and Theater an der Wien, followed by performances of the final symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven in Aix-en-Provence, Paris, Katowice and Warsaw. In February and March 2018, Laurence Equilbey conducts the Gulbenkian Orchestra and Choir in performances of Brahms’s German Requiem and Dvořák’s Biblical Songs, with soloists Thomas Hampson and Miah Persson, at the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon and at the Philharmonie in Paris, and she also works with Insula orchestra, Natalie Clein and Alice Sara Ott in a programme celebrating Beethoven and French 19th century composer Louise Farrenc, with performances at the Grand Théâtre de Provence, La Seine Musicale, and London’s Barbican. Laurence Equilbey then conducts Beethoven’s 4th and 5th piano concertos with soloist Nicholas Angelich and Insula orchestra, and closes the season at La Seine Musicale with two performances of Mozart’s Thamos, King of Egypt.

Reviews

Not only does the programme combine two works which are greatly appreciated by music-lovers [Dvořák Biblical Songs and Brahms German Requiem], it also shows real intelligence, with personal rather than simply national interpretations of their spirituality.
- Bachtrack
 (Suzanne Lay-Canessa)
, 2018
[Laurence Equilbey] conducted the Gulbenkian Orchestra with energy, without being authoritarian, producing a very beautifully balanced sound.
- Olyrix
 (Violette Renié)
, 2018
Conductor Laurence Equilbey, with flowing elegance, gives a very spiritual and solemn interpretation of the work [Brahms German Requiem], with no hint of pomposity.
- Olyrix
 (Violette Renié)
, 2018
The final movement was magnificent, with very beautiful nuanced singing from the choir, as they reach the particularly moving silence following the last note. The almost-full auditorium responded with fully-deserved enthusiastic applause and cries of 'bravo'.
- Olyrix
 (Violette Renié)
, 2018
Equilbey likes brisk tempi, but always with room for nuances, atmosphere, variation and warmth. In addition, she structured this one-and-a-half-hour performance as a rounded narrative, with nothing lacking and nothing overpowered. Above all, she kept both instruments and voices in total balance.
- Süddeutsche Zeitung
 (Reinhard J. Brembeck)
, 2017
Equilbey is tough and has vision. One can tell by listening to her recordings of the Brahms Requiem or the "Seven Last Words" by Haydn. With accentus, she favours a flexible and dark sound for the choir and holds all the voices perfectly in balance. The upper voices do not dominate and one can hear very clearly the middle voices and other details; this was also the case in Vienna. Equilbey’s trademark is a wonderful amalgam of French and German aesthetics, combining unsentimental clarity and profound feeling.
- Süddeutsche Zeitung
 (Reinhard J. Brembeck)
, 2017
This was exactly the inaugural kick the opening needed, and I doubt if anyone in the hall didn’t rejoice at the encore of this early (1808) Ode to Joy.
- The Arts Desk
 (David Nice)
, 2017
The acoustics of the Seine Musicale are simply excellent [...] Insula orchestra played with great vitality throughout. Rarely has Mozart been performed more accurately than by Laurence Equilbey and her splendid musicians.
- concerti.de
 (Peter Krause)
, 2017
[About Gluck's Orfeo Ed Euridice CD] Equilbey and the Insula orchestra are painstaking in their re-creation of Gluck's original sound world: period strings and brass underscore the harshness of Orfeo's isolation where the warmer sound of conventional instruments tends to console. Speeds are brisk, but in veering away from Muti-like solemnity.
- Gramophone
 (Tim Ashley)
, 2017
The sound is full-bodied and warm in the new hall. The equilibrium between accentus chorus, founded by Laurence Equilbey, the three soloists and the orchestra is well-balanced. Instrumental and vocal sounds are well blended. Also the sharpness drawn by the conductor is well carried by the acoustics; nothing is forced.
- Badische Zeitung
 (Georg Rudiger)
, 2017
A passionate performance well-served by the orchestra’s unique sound.
- Destimed
 (Michel Egea)
, 2017
Laurence Equilbey…has at her disposal a very high level ensemble, which shows in Der Freischütz powerful and theatrical sound effects.
- Opéra Magazine
 (Richard Martet)
, 2017
She likes speedy tempi, but always leaves room for nuances, atmosphere, variation and warmth. In addition, she structures this one-and-a-half hour performance as a rounded narrative, which lacked nothing and nothing was overpowered. Above all, she holds the instruments and voices in an unrestrained balance, allowing neither the choir nor the singers to dominate.
- Süddeutsche Zeitung
 (Reinhard Bembreck)
The master of ceremonies is a mistress: the conductor Laurence Equilbey, founder of Insula orchestra. She promised a surprise programme. It is also a bold choice: long extracts from Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera, in its German Singspiel version, Die Gärtnerin aus Liebe, with a brilliant cast of French soloists.
- Le Monde
 (Marie-Aude Roux)
The musicians of Insula orchestra, led by conductor Laurence Equilbey, bring out all the nuances in the score with a formal lightness of touch that only serves to magnify the work. Equilbey, in a state of grace, conducts weightlessly, discernibly illustrating the influence of Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach on Haydn’s writing.
- La Provence
 (Jean-Rémi Barland)
, 2017
Insula Orchestra and Laurence Equilbey gave a very fine concert of music by Schubert, featuring a version of the Unfinished Symphony of a quality that one would like to hear more often.(…) Insula Orchestra, with its transparent timbres, the outstanding quality of its individual musicians, and myriad dynamic variations at its fingertips, literally enchanted the audience at the Metz Arsenal, accustomed to more heavyweight symphony orchestra formats. The size of the main auditorium at the Arsenal in no way impaired the legibility of the immensely subtle interpretation led by Laurence Equilbey, absolutely on top of her game. The quality of the treatment, creating the impression that one was hearing the premiere of a piece that one yet felt one knew by heart, seems to definitively inter the controversy about the need, or otherwise, to play the nineteenth century repertory on period instruments.
- ResMusica
 (Pierre Degott)
Laurence Equilbey’s ensemble, hailing from Paris, showcases the best in period-instrument performance: lithe playing that forces us to sit up and pay attention to long-neglected……works.
- Financial Times
 (Hannah Nepil)
, 2015
Equilbey maintained light but effective control over all three pieces, encouraging her orchestra to display its range of colour with skill and confidence.
- Guardian
 (George Hall)
, 2015

Discography

Comala
Released February 2017

Niels Gade (1817-1890), Comala

Danish national Choir
Danish national Symphony Orchestra
Laurence Equilbey, conductor

Orfeo ed Euridice

Franco Fagioli, Orfeo
Malin Hartelius, Euridice
Emmanuelle de Negri, Amore
accentus
Insula orchestra
Laurence Equilbey, conductor

Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787)
Orfeo ed Euridice
Version originale de Vienne (1762)
Libretto: Rainero de Calzabigi

including : Orpheo, highlights of versions for Vienna and Paris (1774)
Deutsche Grammophon (Archiv Produktion)

TRACKLISTING
CD 1: ORPHEO – Highlights of the versions for Vienna (1762) and Paris (1774)
CD 2 & CD 3: Orfeo ed Euridice – original version (vienna 1762)
French release September 18, 2015. International release September 11, 2015.