For the past 20 years, Ensemble Anonymus of Québec City, under the direction of Claude Bernatchez, has given joyous new life to the musical traditions of medieval Europe. Numerous shows, concerts and high-quality recordings testify to the artistic mastery attained by the group over the years, as well as the talent of the musicians who have contributed to the ensemble's success.
To take this vast repertory, with its pure, contrasting tones, and present it in contemporary terms requires musicians to balance respect for historic sources with the creative inspiration that fuels performance. From the beginning, Ensemble Anonymus has distinguished itself by its original way of exploring the theatrical settings and characters of medieval music. Conveying the musical authenticity of the period through the rustic simplicity of the common people, the refinement of the nobility and the austere solemnity of the clergy, the group has come to be recognized for the qualities that characterize its musical production : subtle atmospheres, stylistic rigour and remarkable creativity. This approach creates a bridge spanning the centuries between modern performers and their medieval counterparts and perpetuates the great and enduring musical heritage of the Middle Ages.
Over the years, Ensemble Anonymus has created many original theme-based programs, each touching on different aspects of secular and religious life in the Middle Ages. Concerts such as Musica Mundi, Inventio, Rue des jugleors, Adventus, Llibre Vermell, Le Monde des goliards, and Noël, Paris, Notre-Dame have been produced frequently in concert halls and, in many cases, broadcast on national radio by the CBC. Shows like Li Jus de Robin et Marion and O Fortuna, blending medieval music and texts with theatrical art, have been applauded by the public and by critics both in North America and Europe.
The ensemble is regularly invited to perform in international festivals such as the Berkeley Early Music Festival in California, the Encuentro International de Musica Antigua in Mexico City and the Dieppe Early Music Festival in France. This recognition attests to the group's exceptional musical accomplishments and endlessly renewed artistic energy.
Percussion, medieval fiddle and voice
Claude Bernatchez founded Ensemble Anonymus in 1978 and has acted since as the group’s artistic director. In the fall of 1987 he was awarded the Prix de création by the Conseil de la Culture de la région de Québec for the quality of his work with Anonymus.
In parallel to his work with Ensemble Anonymus, Claude Bernatchez has collaborated with major theatre companies such as Théâtre du Trident, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, Carbone 14 and Omnibus, composing or arranging stage music for a number of productions.
Claude Bernatchez studied musicology and composition at the Conservatory of Music in Québec City. He has taken part in several advanced drama workshops, and has continued his investigations into early music through encounters and music performance workshops with artists such as Marcel Pérès of Ensemble Organum and Benjamin Bagby and Barbara Thornton of Ensemble Sequentia.
Medieval fiddle and voice
Lucie Brosseau studied at the Conservatory of Music in Québec City and in Montréal and obtained diplomas in viola, chamber music and music history. In 1988, she completed a Master’s degree in viola performance at Laval University.
She has worked with various groups in Québec City, including the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, the AMAQ Quartet, the Radio-Canada Sinfonietta, Les Rhapsodes, Ensemble Galia, the Gilles Auger Chamber Orchestra, and the SONO-GRAPHE group. She holds the position of viola teacher in the music department at the Sainte-Foy College and gives private violin classes.
Since 1991, Lucie Brosseau has been a member of Ensemble Anonymus, taking part in the group’s concerts, recordings, video productions, and radio and television broadcasts as well as touring with them in Canada, the US and Europe. She has also persued her interest in medieval music with Ensemble Sequentia of Cologne, studying medieval fiddle with Elizabeth Gaver and Roy Whelden.
Chalumeau, flutes, dulcimer, bagpipe and voice
Pierre Langevin is a versatile instrumentalist. After graduating from the Conservatory of Music in Québec City in clarinet and chamber music, he studied in Cleveland and New York before taking up a position as solo bass clarinet with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra. He has also trained as a dancer and mime artist with Omnibus and taken part in several Théâtre du Trident productions as an actor-musician.
As a founding member of Ensemble Anonymus in 1978, Pierre Langevin studied the recorder with F. Fischer and became interested in early reed instruments. He furthered his interest in medieval music during several workshops with the Sequentia ensemble of Cologne and in Europe with Pierre Hamon and Jean-Pierre Van Hesse. In 1986, with Pierre Tanguay, he founded the STRADA ensemble, which led him to investigate traditional Mediterranean music more deeply. He has also contributed to music for NFB films and dance performances; as well, he is a member of the René Lussier Ensemble de musique actuelle improvisée, a contemporary improvised music ensemble.
Medieval fiddle and voice
Liette Remon learned traditionnal fiddling with her father and later graduated from Laval University, where she studied violin, viola and clarinet, with a Bachelor's degree in music education. In recent years she has specialized in early and traditional music, and has performed with various groups including Musicque de Joye, playing the music of New France with François Leclerc. She also performes with Tess Leblanc.
Liette Remon is among the performers featured on two official recordings made for the Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France, released in 1997 and 1998. She has also produced a solo violin recording, called Un p'tit air de famille, showcasing traditional music played in her family. She joined STRADA in 1998 in performances of Colinda - Noëls traditionnels et inouïs and she became a regular member of Ensemble Anonymus in the Fall of 2000.
Lute, harp and voice
Guy Ross earned a B.A. in lute performance at Laval University. He went on to specialize in the vocal and instrumental music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Over the past several years, he has developed a deep interest in the medieval harp and the ud (the lute of the Middle East) and has explored classical Turkish music, in both its practice and theory. As well, he has polished his vocal and instrumental approach to the interpretation of medieval music through work with Benjamin Bagby and Barbara Thornton of the Sequentia ensemble.
As a luteplayer and vocalist, Guy Ross has been a regular member of Ensemble Anonymus since 1990. He also performs with the STRADA ensemble, which specializes in traditional Mediterranean music. When Québec City hosted the international Guitare 1994 festival, Guy Ross accompanied the world renowned luteplayer, Jakob Lindberg, in the gala concert. For many years now, he has taken part as a singer and instrumentalist in various radio and television recordings made for the French network of CBC by a number of ancient music ensembles in the province of Québec. He is a co-founder of the ROSSMARIN ensemble and as a member he has contributed to the production of two disks — Oyez! La nouvelle and Airs de cours et chansons galantes — on which he also performs.
Mundana, Humana, Instrumentalis
Medieval man lived in a fascinating world. It was a magical, circular world, with human beings at its centre. The rich and contrasting musical styles engendered by this concept of the world are more fascinating still. The present program invites you on a tour of a musical universe in which the notions of heaven, of sound, of the body and of the soul are the legacy of these timeless musicians.
Medieval musicians always made use of symbolism in their works, but also integrated more general, traditional values, thus balancing the emotional and intellectual aspects of music. For these composers, the essence of music was harmony of proportions, and the art of music was meant to reflect the universe that surrounded them. The medieval musician thus divided music into three distinct domains: Musica mundana, or the "music of the spheres", expressed the harmony of proportions among the stars and planets, whose movements across the heavens produced an extraordinary sound. Musica humana sprang from the relationship between the body and the soul; it was also linked to the humanity of the feelings expressed by music. Finally, musica instrumentalis brought these two worlds together, being related to the harmony of sound and timbres, whether vocal or emanating from musical instruments.
This programme takes up the challenge of illustrating the fascinating worlds of medieval music for modern audiences. The programme includes vocal and instrumental works, drawn from the sacred and secular repertoire of the twelfth and the thirteenth centuries.
Claude Bernatchez :direction and arrangements, percussion, medieval fiddle, lute and vocal
Lucie Brosseau : medieval fiddle and vocal
Pierre Langevin : dulcimer, flutes, chalumeau, bagpipe and vocal
Liette Remon : medieval fiddle and vocal
Guy Ross : lute, medieval harp and vocal
Mundana, Humana, Instrumentalis