Opening of the Festival of Medieval and Renaissanse Music in Ljubljana

Tuesday, 19 August 2008, at 8 pm, Estate Hall, Ljubljana Castle



Germany, France, Romania, Israel


Julla Schmidt  voice, organetto

Élodie Wiemer recorders

Szílárd Czereji viella

Orí Harmelin lutnja / lute


»En ce gracïeux tamps«

Secular Music from the Ars Nova and the Ars Subtilior


9th Festival of Medieval and Renaissance Music Ljubljana

by Radio Slovenija


Ensemble Santenay


We met in the spring of 2004 at the Early Music Institute of the Musikhochschule Trossingen (Germany). Four musicians of four different nationalities. We soon found that we share a common language and a common fascination with the polyphonic music of the late Middle Ages. Music, which manages to express the deepest human feelings in a delicate, poetic manner, in a way that, in our belief, has not been surpassed. Through playing together we have developped our own language and our own approach to this wonderful music which, despite its complexity, leaves much freedom to the performer.


The use of instruments reconstructed on the basis of medieval iconography helps us to approach the original soundscape. We attach great importance to the understanding of the musical language of the period, which is foreign to most of today’s classical musicians. In an experience similar to facing a contemporary work using a new musical language, we go through a process of decoding little by little the written page, trying to understand the essence of a piece and to discover its meaning.


The ensemble draws its name from the castle of Santenay, in Burgundy, a noble residence from the 11th to the 16th century, belonging in the 14th century to Philipp the Bold, son of the king of France John the Good and first duke of Greater Burgundy. This castle presents to us a symbol of the culture at the Burgundian court. Today, the lands of the castle of Santenay are also known for their excellent wine production.


Julla Schmidt began her musical education at the Bayrische Musikakademie in the singing class of Tanja d’Althann. Between 2000 and 2003 she studied singing with Frieder Lang and early music performance with Michael Eberth and Hartwig Groth at the Richard Strauss-Conservatory in Munich. She later transferred to the classes of Richard Wistreich and Christian Hilz in at the Musikhochschule Trossingen. She performs with various early music ensembles all over Europe.


Élodie Wiemer began to learn the recorder at the age of seven with Jean Denis at the conservatory of Gap in France. Between 1997 and 2001 she studied musicology at the University of Aix-en-Provence and early music at the Conservatoire Darius Milhaud, graduating in the class of Sabine Weill. Between 2002 and 2005 she studied the recorder at the Musikhochschule Trossingen with Kees Boeke and Carsten Eckert, obtaining her degree with distinction.


Szílárd Chereji began to study the double bass at the age of nine. Between 1994 and 1999 he studied at the Transylvanian University of Brasov (Romania) where he graduated with excellence. Since 2002 he has been studying the viol at the University of Arts in Graz, Austria, and later at the Musikhochschule Trossingen. He has performed all over Europe as a member of well known early music ensembles such as L’Arpeggiata, Armonico Tributo Austria, Cristofori, Ensemble Kapsberger, Musica Historica Budapest, and Norsk Barokkorkester.


Orí Harmelin studied Drama in Reut School of Arts in Haifa and began his musical education at the age of fifteen, studying classical guitar with Boaz Peleg and composition with Haim Permont, Danni Akiva and Yinaam Lif at the WIZO High School of Arts in Haifa, graduating with excellence in 1999. He later studied the lute with Isidoro Roytman and composition with Arie Shapira. Since 2003 he has been studying the lute with Rolf Lislevand at the Musikhochschule Trossingen.


»En ce gracïeux tamps«


Our programme follows the evolution of the French chanson courtoise including the unique Guillaume de Machaut of the Ars Nova and Italian trecento madrigals by Niccolò da Peruggia, the fascinating composers of the Ars Subtilior like Borlet, Solage and Jacob de Senleches, and the great representatives of the Burgundian chanson, Guillaume Dufay and Gilles Binchois. Machaut, a great poet as well as a sublime composer, was an inspiration to composers for many decades afterwards. He was especially influential in the development of the formes fixes: rondeau, virelai and ballade. The Italian madrigals by Niccolò da Perugia reveal a world where nothing is what it seems to be. Up is down, black is white, and everything is possible. The music of the Ars Subtilior constantly surprises us with its fantastic, unusual treatment of rhythmic and melodic elements. The pieces of Dufay and Binchois present ingenious use of beautiful melodic lines within highly elaborated polyphony.  It is remarkable to see how, through the entire tradition of the French chanson courtoise, elements of composition perfectly serve the expressive purpose of the poetry. Experiencing this music we are confronted with a whole new world depicted in extreme complexity and at the same time we cannot help being touched by the natural expression of emotions.