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Harmonia Early Music

La Belle Danse

The celebrated 17th-century orchestra, the 24 Violons of Versailles, included many different sizes of violon.

Nature and art combine for the pleasure of visitors to the gardens at Versailles.

The 24 Violons of Versailles often play music that was in five parts. The top line was played on six violins more or less the same size as the modern violin, and six basses de violon that are larger and lower in pitch than the modern cello played the bottom line. Various sizes of viola played the middle three parts, four to a part.

The Centre de Music Baroque de Versailles has a collection of these French-style violons.  We hear them in a live recording of Skip Sempé’s Capriccio Stravagante Les 24 Violons made in Utrecht in 2010 for the Paradizo label. The sound of the violons is supplemented by woodwinds, harpsichords and theorbos.

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Wendy Gillespie

Wendy Gillespie, Director of the Bloomington Bach Cantata Project, is Professor Emerita of Music at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and Past President of the Viola da Gamba Society of America. In 2011 she was awarded Early Music America’s Thomas Binkley Award, and in 2012 a Wellesley College Alumnae Achievement Award. She continues to enjoy her career as a performing musician, having made more than 100 recordings and performed on five continents. Wendy began working with Harmonia in January 2012.

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