Early Music Ensemble
he Les Menestrels Ensemble was founded in 1963 by Klaus and Michel Walter. Their original involvement with the music of the 20th century eventually led to an interest in the structural polyphony of 14th and 15th-century music, as exemplified by the Ars Nova in particular. The works of this period continue to be the groups main focus, although their repertoire has expanded to include works written up to about 1600. Their historical instrumentarium has gradually grown to enable as faithful a reproduction as possible of each periods characteristic sound. Les Menestrels achieved their first major success at the 1965 Wiener Festwochen (Vienna International Festival) with their staged performance of the cantefable "Aucassin und Niclolete," for which H.C. Artmann contributed the translation. To programmes consisting entirely of concert music they subsequently added programmes with a literary thread, or those that included staged performances. The group has not entirely forgotten its origins in the contemporary music field, however. One of their programmes features a comparison of parallel aspects of old and new music. Depending on the programme, four to ten singers and instrumentalists participate in the ensembles concerts. They have access to some 70 historical instruments authentic to the period between 1200 and 1600.
Concerts and radio and television recording sessions have taken the ensemble to nearly every European country and to the USA, Canada and Japan. The ensemble has made recordings on the Westminster, Amadeo, Belvedere and Mirror Music labels. Les Menestrels have performed at festivals including the Vienna International Festival (Wiener Festwochen), the Salzburg Festival, the Festivales dEspaña, the Festival Estival de Paris, the International Organ Week in Nuremberg, the Passau European Festival (Europäische Wochen Passau), the Lucerne International Music Festival, the Dubrovnik Festival, the Schwetzinger Festival, Music in Old Krakow, Festivals in Osijek, Flanders, Istanbul, Ljubljana, and Ochrid, the Maulbronn "Monastery Concerts," and many others.
Birgit Kurtz ~ Soprano, Florian Mayr ~ Countertenor
Kurt Kempf ~ Tenor, Erich Klug ~ Bass
Klaus Walter ~ Lute, Michel Walter ~ Cornetto
Eva Brunner ~ Descant Strings
Gebhard Chalupsky ~ Tubing Sheet Instruments