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Les Contre-Sujets’ residence at the National Centre for Early Music in York

The National Centre for Early Music (NCEM) was delighted to welcome Les Contre-Sujets to York for the NCEM’s first residency as part of the eeemerging project. The innovative young ensemble from Paris had an action-packed schedule for the 10 days that they were with us, ending with a lunchtime concert at the NCEM as part of the York Early Music Christmas Festival.

Les Contre-Sujets is directed by Samuel Rotsztejn recorder, with Laurence Valentino, Ajay Ranganathan violins, Tania-Lio Faucon-Cohen viola, Eric Tinkerhess cello and viola da gamba, Benoît Bératto double bass and Takahisa Aida harpsichord. They were joined by baroque dancer Guillaume Jablonka who worked with student Fanny Pouillot in a collaboration with the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

During their stay the musicians gave concerts at the Universities of York and Huddersfield where they experimented with a new concept in programme-planning, inviting the audience to ‘create their own concerto’ by choosing their favourite piece for each movement from a selection played. They were also invited by Professor John Bryan to give a master-class to students from Huddersfield University, they received coaching from Professor Peter Seymour of the University of York and took part in a specialist training session on working with UK promoters, led by Clare Norburn, Co-Artistic Director of Brighton Early Music Festival. They even made a short video and fitted in a recording session too.

Perhaps their favourite day was when they worked with a class of 20 children under the guidance of Cherry Forbes, Education Director of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. The children, from Heworth Primary Year 6, were spellbound by both the instruments and their players and many returned with their teacher Molly Newton, their families and friends to Les Contre-Sujets’ concert a few days later.

Here are some of their reactions to the workshop:

“Please can you do a letter about the concert they’re doing – I really, really want to go!”
“Playing the harpsichord was AMAZING!!”
“This is really fun!”
“I loved walking around when they were playing and seeing and hearing the different instruments”
“So, so good”
“Can we do that every week?”
“It was so cool!”
“How do they move their fingers so fast?”
“They are very good at English!”

Video from their Concert