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La Grande Chapelle

La Grande Chapelle is a vocal and instrumental early music ensemble with a European outlook. It takes its name from the celebrated musical chapelle of the House of Burgundy and, subsequently, of the House of Hapsburg, which served the Spanish royal line until the 17th century. It was also known as the capilla flamenca and was presided over by such maestros as N. Gombert, F. Rogier and M. Romero. As in its original incarnation, La Grande Chapelle is made up of seasoned performers from different European countries. The heterogeneity of the ensemble is what helps give it its distinctive sound, characterised by an avoidance of timbric uniformity and an emphasis on rich musical textures.

La Grande Chapelle’s interests are principally focused on the field of sacred music. Its main objective is to apply new readings to the great vocal works of the 16th to 18th centuries, with special emphasis on the polychoral productions of the Baroque. At the same time it aims to contribute to the urgent task of reviving forgotten works from the Spanish musical repertoire. That is why it is passionately involved in stimulating research (the gathering of material, inventory, study, and transcription), premiering previously unknown repertoires, recording CDs, and even publishing music following proven scientific methodology.

Outstanding among the commissions for musical reconstructions La Grande Chapelle has received are the Office of Dead in the Cathedral of Mexico (c1700) (Festival of Úbeda and Baeza, 2005), the Liturgical music of Domenico Scarlatti (Festival of Sacred Art of Madrid, 2007), Antonio Rodríguez de Hita’s zarzuela Briseida (Via Stellae in Santiago de Compostela, 2007), the auto sacramental La Paz Universal ó El Lirio y la Azucena (Universal Peace or the Iris and the Lily) by Calderón de la Barca / Peyró (the Cuenca Religious Music Week, 2008), Compendio sucinto de la revolución española (Concise compendium of the Spanish Revolution) (1815) by Ramón Garay (SECC, 2009), sacred works by José Lidón and Manuel J. Doyagüe (Arte Sacro Festival, Madrid, 2009), In Dominica Palmarum by Juan García de Salazar (the Pórtico de Zamora Festival, 2010), Nicolás Zabala’s Te Deum (the Consortium for the Commemoration of the 1812 Constitution), a monograph on Alonso Juárez (the Cuenca Religious Music Week, 2013), Francisco Valls’ Scala Aretina Mass (Early Music Festival of the Pyrenees 2013), (Guineos / Negro Villancicos in Latin American cathedrals) (Festival d’Ile de France, 2014), etc.
La Grande Chapelle has taken part in the most important Spanish music seasons and performed at the festivals of Picardie, Haut-Jura, Musica Sacra in Maastricht, Laus Polyphoniae in Antwerp, Rencontres musicales in Noirlac, the OsterKlang-Festival (Theater an der Wien) in Vienna, the Cervantino Festival in Guanajuato, Radio France et Montpellier, Ribeauvillé, Saint-Michel en Thiérache, Ravenna, Saintes, Île de France, Van Vlaanderen (Mechelen), Lyon, as well as the Cité de la Musique season in Paris and at UNAM in Mexico (at the Nezahualcóyotl auditorium), amongst others.

Upon its foundation in 2005, fired by a desire to spread Spain’s musical heritage, La Grande Chapelle set up its own independent record label, Lauda, which specialises in recordings of great musical and musicological interest. It has focused on two principal areas: an exploration of the relationship between the music and literature of the Spanish Golden Age (Entre aventuras y encantamientos [Between adventures and enchantments: Music for Don Quixote], LAU001; El vuelo de Ícaro [The Flight of Icarus], LAU003 and El gran Burlador [The Great Seducer: Music for the myth of Don Juan], LAU006) and the revival of works by the most outstanding Spanish renaissance and baroque composers through first-time recordings: (Cristóbal Galán, LAU 010; Alonso Lobo, LAU 013; Francesc Valls, LAU 014). In this latter category are musicological recreations that set a particular work or composer within a specific context (Missa pro Defunctis by Mateo Romero, LAU002; Vespers of Confessors by José de Nebra, LAU004; Instrumental canciones by Antonio Rodríguez de Hita, LAU005; Music for Corpus Christi by Joan Pau Pujol, LAU007; the Office of the Dead by Francisco García Fajer, LAU008; Missa O Gloriosa Virginum, by Rodríguez de Hita, LAU009; In Dominica Palmarum by Juan García de Salazar, LAU011 and Easter celebrations in the Piazza Navona. T. L. de Victoria, LAU012). For this series of liturgical reconstructions La Grande Chapelle has generally worked in collaboration with Juan Carlos Asensio’s ensemble Schola Antiqua.

Recordings by La Grande Chapelle on the Lauda label have received several prestigious national and international awards and prizes for their quality and artistic rigour, including two “Orphées d’Or” (Académie du Disque Lyrique, Paris, in 2007 and 2009), “Label of the Year” in the “Prelude Classical Music Awards 2007” (The Netherlands), “5 of Diapason”, “CD Excepcional” in the magazine Scherzo, “Choc de Classica”, “Editor’s Choice of Gramophone”, “4 stars of the BBC Magazine”, etc.. Their CD of the Easter Celebrations in the Piazza Navona was awarded the “Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik” (PdSK) – the prestigious German Record Critics’ Award -, in the category of Historic Music (Bestenliste 4-2012) and the “Critic’s Choice” in the celebrated British magazine Gramophone.

In 2010 La Grande Chapelle received the inaugural FestClásica (the Spanish Classical Music Association Awards) Prize for its contribution to the performance and recovery of previously unrecorded Spanish music.