Female voices a cappella -Directed by Brigitte Lesne
Discantus is an exclusively women’s a cappella vocal ensemble composed of six to ten voices. It brings alive the vocal repertoire, primarily sacred, of the Middle Ages from the first Western musical notation of the 9th century up to the 15th century.
Founded in 1989 under the direction of Brigitte Lesne, it brings together singers from diverse backgrounds capable of adopting a vocal style appropriate to the medieval repertoire, uniting unique individual timbres to form a coherent ensemble sound.
Building on the style appropriate to Gregorian chant, giving particular attention to melodic line, rhythm and ornamentation based on the oldest known manuscripts, Discantus breathes new life into chants of the ars antiqua, a period of brilliant cultural activity marked by Saint-Martial de Limoges, by the great pilgrimages such as Saint James of Compostella and by the construction of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris.
Brigitte Lesne creates her programmes in their entirety, often in collaboration with the musicologist Marie-Noël Colette, applying a thorough intellectual process after the patient work of manuscript collection and musical transcription, to create coherent thematic programmes. Pride of place is often given to women in the chosen themes : Maternity, the Virgin Mary, Hildegard von Bingen,…
Discantus sometimes employs instruments in its programmes, expecially handbells, that became like the "signature" of the ensemble. Other programmes include a children’s choir, staging for liturgical dramas or the participation of the medieval music ensemble Alla francesca, combining sacred and secular repertories.
Invited to the most prestigious festivals, Discantus performs regularly in France, in Western, Central and Eastern Europe (Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland) and as far as Fes in Morocco, Beyrouth in Lebanon, New York, Perth, and also in Colombia.
Its prolific discography has won high critical acclaim, as well as many distinguished awards. The 13th recording, "the Argument of Beauty" (sacred polyphonies by Gilles Binchois, at æon recordings) was rewarded as 2010 best recordings of the year by Le Monde newspaper.
Singers include : Brigitte Lesne, Catherine Sergent, Lucie Jolivet, Brigitte Le Baron, Hélène Decarpignies, Caroline Magalhaes, Anne Guidet, Catherine Schroeder, Anne Delafosse, Christel Boiron, …
Discantus is produced by the Centre de musique médiévale de Paris
Mécénat Musical Société Générale is the main sponsor of the ensembles Alla francesca Discantus
With the support of la Drac Ile-de-France – ministère de la Culture
Discantus is a member of FEVIS – the Federation of Specialised Vocal and Instrumental Ensembles.