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Miller Theatre Opens 2014-15 Early Music Series With THE DARK HOURS Tonight

Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts opens the 2014-15 Early Music series with THE DARK HOURS featuring Le Poème Harmonique and Vincent Dumestre, artistic director, tonight, October 25, 2014 at 8 p.m. at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin (145 West 46th Street). Tickets: $35-$50; Students with valid ID: $21-$30.

From Miller Theatre Executive Director Melissa Smey: "Le Poème Harmonique have become a beloved mainstay of our Early Music series, and each year I eagerly await their performance. They approach early music with superb artistry and passion, and the result is that their concerts truly transport us through time and place."

Miller Theatre's "essential" (The New Yorker) Early Music series has been lauded as a leader in New York's burgeoning historical performance scene. This season, we'll hear intricate vocal works from England, Italy, and Spain; a French Baroque setting of the myth of Ulysses; and a dark, dramatic lament, performed by candlelight. Most performances in this series are held offsite at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, where listeners can experience this glorious music in a setting much like the cathedrals where Tallis, Byrd, Monteverdi, and others would have originally performed it. Early Music

Miller Theatre's favorite French early-music band returns with another evocative, candlelit performance. Lalande was the leading French composer of sacred music during the 18th century, and he wrote with an emphasis on the female voice that was unusual for his time-perhaps inspired by the vocal talents of his wife and daughters. Morroccan soprano Hasnaa Bennani makes her Miller debut, lending her "beautiful, golden" soprano to these Leçons de ténèbres, or "Lessons of Darkness," based on the Lamentations of Jeremiah after the destruction of Jerusalem.


Anonymous: Psalm In te Domine Speravi in faux bourdon
Michel-Richard de Lalande: Troisième leçon de Ténèbres du Jeudi (for solo voice)
Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Septième méditation - neuvième méditation
Michel-Richard de Lalande: Miserere mei Deus


Le Poème Harmonique
Hasnaa Bennani, soprano
Bruno Le Levreur, countertenor
Serge Goubioud, tenor
Florian Götz, bass
Lucas Peres, bass viol
Marouan Mankar Bennis, organ & harpsichord
Vincent Dumestre, theorbo & direction

Le Poème Harmonique ( - Formed in 1998, Le Poème Harmonique is a group of soloists, gathered around its artistic director Vincent Dumestre. Its artistic activity, centered on vocal and instrumental music of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century, is regularly enriched by interaction with other disciplines. This, together with real teamwork -- working together as a company -- is Le Poème Harmonique's hallmark in Baroque performance today.

Actors, dancers, circus artists and puppeteers join its singers and musicians in programs of chamber works - Le Ballet des Fées, Il Fasolo - and, since 2004, in large-scale stage productions, such as Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (a comédie-ballet by Molière and Lully; stage director Benjamin Lazar) and Baroque Carnival (directed by Cécile Roussat). For operatic performances, such as Lully's Cadmus et Hermione and Cavalli's Egisto (both staged by Benjamin Lazar), Le Poème Harmonique studies in depth the correspondences between 'period' aesthetics - use of candles for lighting, authentic gestures and painted sets and machinery - and the aesthetics of modern stage productions. The ensemble also gets back to the sources of early French and Italian music by exploring its relationships with traditional or folk music. The recording entitled Aux Marches du Palais, for instance, is devoted to French songs of oral tradition.

Twenty-five per cent of Le Poème Harmonique's activity takes place in the Haute Normandie Region. But since it was founded the ensemble has made many concert tours in Europe and has appeared in most of the continent's capitals. Outstanding events of the past seasons include Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Baroque Carnival and Cadmus et Hermione, all of which have been exceptionally successful, with almost 130 performances. The ensemble's recent stage projects have included the first performances of Pagliardi's Caligula, in September 2011 at the International Puppet Festival in Charleville-Mézières, and of Cavalli's Egisto, in February 2012 at the Opéra-Comique in Paris, then at the Opéra de Rouen Haute- Normandie. Also, in 2013-2014, as part of its residency there, Le Poème Harmonique will be presenting Purcell's Dido and Æneas at Rouen Opéra. The ensemble's recordings for the Alpha label have met with rare public success: Grand Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros, the Diapason d'Or, recommendations from Opéra International, Classica, Le Monde de la Musique, a Prelude Classical Award in 2003, the Antonio Vivaldi International Award (Cini Foundation, Venice), the Caecilia Press Prize, and more.

Vincent Dumestre - Vincent Dumestre (b. 1968) is the founder and artistic director of Le Poème Harmonique, with which he explores the vocal and instrumental repertoire of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. With this faithful team of artists he also seeks to revive the performing arts of the Baroque period, thereby favoring in many of his projects interaction with other artistic disciplines.

After studying art history at the École du Louvre and classical guitar at the École Normale de Musique in Paris, Dumestre (b. May 1968) turned to the lute, Baroque guitar, and theorbo, which he studied with Hopkinson Smith and Eugène Ferré, with Rolf Lislevand at the Toulouse Conservatoire, and in the continuo class at the Boulogne Conservatoire, where he was unanimously awarded the advanced diploma. Since then he has taken part in many concerts, in particular with the Ricercar Consort, La Simphonie du Marais, Le Concert des Nations, La Grande Écurie et la Chambre du Roy, Akademia, and the ensembles of the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles. He has taken part in more than thirty recordings with those ensembles.

In 1998 Dumestre formed Le Poème Harmonique -- a chamber ensemble and orchestra specializing in the Baroque repertoire -- of which he is the artistic director. From the very first the ensemble's productions won both critical acclaim and popularity. In 1999 the French music magazine Diapason voted Dumestre "Young Talent of the Year" for his work with Le Poème Harmonique.

Dumestre's artistic career is essentially bound up with that of his ensemble. It is interesting furthermore to note his unusual position on the international Baroque scene, as the only musician to lead a company that is directly involved in the production of large-scale stage productions, thus contributing to a new perception of the relationships between music and theatre. His approach has proved immensely popular, acclaimed by the critics and by the public. The same spirit of innovation characterizes the chamber programs, in which Dumestre continues to participate as an instrumentalist with his singers and musicians. This aspect of his work is still of fundamental importance to him, despite the fact that the ensemble's evolution means that he often has the role of conductor. Over the past four years the repute of Dumestre and Le Poème Harmonique has grown spectacularly and the ensemble's stage productions and concerts are now presented at many prestigious venues in France and abroad.

Directions and information is available online at or via the Miller Theatre Box Office, at 212.854.7799.


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