Le Banquet Celeste

The Lamentations of Jeremiah inspired many composers of the Baroque era, from Couperin to Jan Dismas Zelenka. Jan Dismas Zelenka, although very famous in his time, has only recently been rediscovered. Bassist and composer at the court of Dresden, he wrote many vocal and instrumental works, sacred and secular and has a very personal musical style which is instantly recognizable.

This programme focusses particularly on the Lessons of Darkness the music for which has a unique style between motet and cantata. A fusion of Germanic and Italian styles, these works make use of solo instruments rarely used such as the torch or the bassoon, and are distinguished by a rare quality in the mixing of arias and ariosos. The Répons accompanying the Darkness lessons are remarkable for their counterpoint in the Stile Antico and contrast beautifully with them.

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Damien Guillon, counter-tenor
Céline Scheen, soprano
Paul Agnew, tenor
Benoît Arnould, Baritone

LE BANQUET CÉLESTE is an ensemble of soloists gathered around French countertenor Damien Guillon.

Founded in 2009, the ensemble promotes an exacting work on the baroque repertoire, with a regular team of singers and instrumentalists who were all specially trained in the styles approached by the ensemble.

Within a few years, LE BANQUET CÉLESTE has won over many prestigious concert halls and festivals: Salle Gaveau (Paris), Festival d'Arques-la-Bataille, Les Arts renaissants (Toulouse), Festival for Ancient Music (Froville), Saint-Michel en Thiérache, Festival de Sablé, Festival de Saintes, Festival de Beaune, Festival d'Ambronay... The ensemble was also invited in China (Beijing and Wuhan), with programmes dedicated to John Dowland, Philipp Heinrich Erlebach, Antonio Vivaldi, Henry Purcell, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi and Johann Sebastian Bach.

The first recording of the ensemble, devoted to Bach's cantatas BWV 170 and 35 for alto and organo obligato, was released by Zig-Zag Territoires in 2012. It garnered stellar reviews in the specialized press (fff by Télérama, 4 stars by Diapason Magazine, **** by Classica).

Among other upcoming projects, LE BANQUET CÉLESTE is working on a new programme of Christmas cantatas by J.S. Bach, Lamentations and Respons by J.D. Zelenka, and a stage version of Haendel's Acis and Galatea, in collaboration with the Centre Lyrique d'Auvergne, to be presented at the opera houses in Avignon, Clermont-Ferrand and Rennes, and at the Festival de la Chaise-Dieu.

LE BANQUET CÉLESTE is an ensemble-in-residence at the Festival de Lanvellec, and is associated to the Théâtre de Cornouaille in Quimper.

LE BANQUET CÉLESTE is supported by the Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles in Brittany, a division of the French Ministry of Culture.


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