thélème is a professional ensemble that specializes in the performance of early music. The ensemble was founded in 2013 by its Artistic Director, Jean-Christophe Groffe, and the ensemble is largely made up of musicians who graduated from the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis.
The name of the ensemble refers to the utopia described by François Rabelais at the end of his novel Gargantua. Thélème is a hexagonal five-story Renaissance chateau built with precious materials. At Thélème, there is no outer wall, no clock. What is the point of worrying what time it is when we are not dependent on time, when we decide ourselves when we will get up, eat, work, or dedicate ourselves to the pleasure of conversation? The name alone says it all: the Greek “thelo” means “I want”, so thélème can be translated as “free will”.
While keeping the voice as the center of its work, thélème examines the relationships between the musician and his audience, offering staged performances as well as the more usual concert forms. thélème collaborates with singers, instrumentalists, composers, authors, dancers, choreographers, comedians, directors, scholars, and creators of all types who identify with the Rabelaisian maxim: “Do what you will”.
thélème has been invited to numerous renowned festivals: Festtage Alte Musik Basel, St. Galler Festspiele, Schubertiade von Espace 2, Festival Rümlingen, Forum Alte Musik Zürich, Top Klassik Züricher Oberland, etc.
thélème also works with other reputed ensembles and artists, for example the ensembles Musica Fiorita and SoloVoices, the saxophone quartet XASAX, the Tanzkompanie du Théâtre de St. Gall, the pianist Rani Orenstein, the organist Olivier Wyrwas, and the mezzo-soprano Solenn’ Lavanant-Linke.
Between now and the end of 2018, the ensemble thélème is recording three CDs of the music of Clément Janequin, to appear on the label Coviello Classics.
© thélème 2016
translation: Zoe Saunders
Annie Dufresne, Soprano
Julien Freymuth, Altus
Lior Leibovici, Tenor
Ivo Haun, Tenor
Breno Quinderé, Baritone
Jean-Christophe Groffe, Bass and Artistic Director
Ziv Braha, Lute