Bernard Labadie

Biography

“A fine instinctive musician. He moulds the phrases, plucks out all-important details in the texture and radiates an infectious joy in the music.”

The Telegraph, Les Violons du Roy, Barbican Centre, London

A specialist in Baroque and Classical repertoire, Bernard Labadie is Music Director of Les Violons du Roy and La Chapelle de Québec, founded by him in 1984 and 1985 respectively, with whom he regularly tours Canada, the U.S. and Europe.  They are frequent guests at the major venues and festivals and recent appearances have included the Salzburg Festival, New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Kennedy Center in Washington, London’s Barbican Centre, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Philharmonie in Berlin.

Labadie is a regular guest with all the major North American orchestras.  He appears frequently with the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, the Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras, the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, St. Louis, Houston, Atlanta, Detroit, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, the New World Symphony in Miami, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. 

He is enjoying more and more renown in Europe and has made excellent debuts with the Bayerischer Rundfunk Orchestra in Munich, the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, the Orchèstre Philharmonique de Radio France in Paris, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. He will soon make his debuts with the Swedish Radio Orchestra, Finnish Radio Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, and Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, and will return to Munich, Paris and Glasgow and to the Melbourne Symphony and Malaysian Philharmonic, the NDR Orchestra Hannover, the English Concert and to the Northern Sinfonia and Academy of Ancient Music where he is a regular guest.

A highly experienced opera conductor, Labadie was Artistic and Music Director of L’Opéra de Québec (1994-2003) and L’Opéra de Montréal (2002-2006). Guest engagements have included ‘Così fan tutte’ at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York, ‘Orlando’ for Glimmerglass Opera, ‘Lucio Silla’ for the Santa Fe Opera, ‘Die Entführung’ on tour with the OAE and ‘Die Zauberflöte’ for the Metropolitan Opera, New York and for Cincinnati Opera.  Last season he returned to Cincinnati for ‘Don Giovanni’.

His honours include "Officer of the Order of Canada" awarded by the Canadian Government and "Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Québec".


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Schedule

Raoul-Jobin Concert Hall, Quebec City

FUX: Le dolcezze e l’amereze della notte
BACH: Suite for Orchestra in B Minor
HAYDN: Symphony No. 22 in E-flat Major "The Philosopher"
MOZART: Concerto for Flute No.1 in G Major

Bernard Labadie, conductor
Kersten McCall, flute

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Press

Vivaldi and Pergolesi

17th April 2014

The English Concert

"Bernard Labadie’s conception seemed perfectly thought-through, for this as well as each and every piece on the programme. A most memorable concert." Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard, April 19th 2014
"The orchestra have a characteristic way of dancing on every note, and a freedom of movement (exploited here to great effect by Bernard Labadie's conducting) that allowed them to pause mid-gesture, opening up a fleeting space in which to savour Pergolesi's stabbing dissonances, whose blades were given a fresh edge by flawless period intonation." Guy Dammann, The Guardian, 21st April 2014

21st February 2014

St Louis Symphony Orchestra

"The always-welcome, always-effective Labadie" ... "Labadie demonstrated the gift of providing just the right amount of information" ... " Labadie is very much at home in that oeuvre, and led a well-balanced performance. This is a seriously joyful work, with Mozart at his best; with the SLSO in fine form, it provided the perfect ending to the performance". Sarah Bryan Miller, St Louis Post-Dispatch, February 21st, 2014

Gluck, Haydn, Mozart

15th February 2014

WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln

The WDR Symphony Orchestra played with visible pleasure at the highest level, this was down to the energetic and demanding Bernard Labadie. Christian Otterstein, 'Iserlohner Kreisanzeiger' / Westfälische Rundschau' 17th February 2014

Mozart

Requiem

New York Philharmonic, Avery Fisher Hall

'Bernard Labadie led the New York Philharmonic and the New York Choral Artists in a glowing performance of the Requiem that was one of the most cohesive I have heard. This was partly because of Mr. Labadie’s swift tempos and the prominent role he assigned to the excellent chorus in revealing the music’s function as a communal ritual.'

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times, November 2013

Les Violons du Roy

Music Center at Strathmore

'Is Les Violons du Roy perhaps the best early-music ensemble in North America? Check. International opera star Stephanie Blythe? Check. A top-notch program of 18th-century music? Check. The Music Center at Strathmore presented what was probably one of the top 10 concerts of the year' ... 'Bernard Labadie led with ease, helping to give contour and variety of dynamics and articulation to each carefully turned phrase.'
Charles T. Downey, The Washington Post, October 16 2013

Beethoven

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Hamer Hall

Labadie brought a refined and temperate touch to the podium. In particular, his direction emphasises grand contours of mood and phrasing rather than becoming bogged down in localised shifts and contrasts. Where others tend to labour the point and make Beethoven an unrelentingly dramatic experience, Labadie provides a sense of space and freshness, allowing tension to simmer below the surface and then, just as effortlessly, make way for passages of grace and levity. Eamonn Kelly, The Australian, September 30, 2013
Bernard Labadie returned to direct the MSO in an all-Beethoven program. With precisely placed outbursts Beethoven's Coriolan Overture Op. 62 got off to a dramatic start. The lowered acoustic ceiling of Hamer Hall and Labadie's approach to period string technique yielded a marvellously crisp, dry sound from the orchestra

Martin Duffy, The Age, September 30, 2013

Haydn

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

Melbourne Recital Centre

Effusive in their praise of heaven and earth, the Melbourne Symphony Chorus was in joyously fine voice for the opening Te Deum, admirably handling the complexity of its grand double fugue. The joy continued unabated with the opening flourishes from trumpets and oboes in the Symphony No. 48 in C major. Although played on modern string instruments, period techniques and stylistic sensibilities such as an absence of vibrato were greatly rewarded by the hall's acoustic. Liveliness in the performance mostly came from the detailed approach to phrasing and articulation rather than Labadie's mostly unhurried tempi. A committed string section led by concertmaster Dale Barltrop produced some of the best playing heard this year.

Martin Duffy, The Age, September 21st 2013

Handel

Theodora

Maison Symphonique, Montreal

Bernard Labadie and Les Violons du Roy have been bringing music to Montreal — and sometimes coals to Newcastle — for 20 years. There could be no complaints of duplication on Saturday night as the Quebec City orchestra and its attendant choir, La Chapelle de Québec, presented a stunning performance of Handel’s rarely-heard penultimate oratorio, Theodora, in the Maison symphonique.

 

Arthur Kaptainis for The Gazette

Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto

For leadership, the Toronto Symphony called on Quebecer Bernard Labadie, who has become an authority on achieving historically informed performance styles with modern instruments.
The result was period-performance-style clarity, rich texture and rhythmic vitality conveyed with the wider expressive possibilities of modern instruments and bows. John Terauds, Musical Toronto, 24 November 2012

Period-performance renditions of this music, including those by Toronto’s Tafelmusik, are marked by an overall transparency as well as rhythmic vitality — two attributes in abundant display at Roy Thomson Hall.

But that doesn’t begin to do justice to the minute shaping of notes, phrases, entrances and dynamic shifts that Labadie was able to extract from an orchestra that sounded particularly balanced and cohesive.  Labadie suffused the whole with a clear sense of musical purpose, lyrical grace and, when necessary, bursts of belligerent power.

John Terauds, The Star, 25 November 2012

Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles

Labadie’s “Jupiter” Symphony was bracingly vigorous, with a jaunty swinging feeling in the menuetto.  As always, Labadie managed to get the Philharmonic strings to observe period-performance practices such as using little or no vibrato, yet without sacrificing the lushness of a modern symphony orchestra. Richard S. Ginell, LA Times, 17 December 2011

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Chicago Symphony Center

One of the salient advantages of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's so-called split-orchestra weeks is that they bring us Baroque specialists such as Bernard Labadie who know how to infuse the playing of modern instrumentalists with the sound, style and spirit appropriate to that repertory.

This was his third appearance with the CSO since his Symphony Center debut in 2009 and his most successful: The close musical rapport he enjoyed with the players was palpable, and the performances crackled with stylish energy. John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune, 3 November 2011

Orchèstre Philharmonique de Radio France

Cite de la Musique

The real triumph of the evening was the Philharmonique de Radio France.  The prestigious ensemble lived up to its reputation of mastery and elegance.  At the helm, the conductor Bernard Labadie seduced with his good taste: with no excessive lyricism, his perfectly measured tempi allowed for a beautifully expressive musical line throughout. Hermine Ferrand, Classiqueinfo.com, 24 September 2011

Mozart

Die Entführung aus dem Serail

Royal Festival Hall, London

... [a] superb effort by Bernard Labadie and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Guided with elegant efficiency by Labadie, the OAE were on strong form Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, 25 November 2010
This was the French-Canadian conductor’s debut with the OAE, and they gave the score all the fizz you could want. Neil Fisher, The Times, 25 November 2010
Under the baton of Bernard Labadie, the OAE bounds along at a suitably vibrant pace, the precision, detail and subtlety in its sound being matched by an equal measure of flair and exuberance. Sam Smith, Music OMH, November 2010
[His] conducting had real humanitarian warmth and depth Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 26 November 2010

Recordings

MOZART: Requiem

Les Violons du Roy
La Chapelle de Quebec

Karina Gauvin
Marie-Nicole Lemieux
John Tessier
Nathan Berg
Dorian

The Three Baroque Tenors

This recording features six world premier recordings of arias by Caldara, Conti, Gasparini, Handel, Scarlatti and Vivaldi.

Ian Bostridge
The English Concert
EMI Classics