Moissac Abbey, France
Organum Ensemble encourages a different approach of the past, by rediscovering and restoring the ancient music genres in the heart of the greatest world’s contemporary socio-cultural and spiritual movements.
Founded in 1982 by Marcel Pérès, Organum Ensemble focuses on the European repertoires that marked the evolution of music since de 6thcentury. Organum Ensemble encourages a different approach of the past, by rediscovering and restoring the ancient music genres in the heart of the greatest world’s contemporary socio-cultural and spiritual movements.
Organum Ensemble was formerly based at the Senaque Abbey and at the Royaumont Foundation (from 1984 to 2000), where Marcel Pérès founded CERIMM (Centre Européen pour la Recherche sur l'Interprétation des Musiques Médiévales – European Medieval Music Research and Performance Centre). Since 2001, Organum Ensemble has being based at Moissac Abbey, where Marcel Pérès also founded CIRMA (Centre Itinérant de Recherche sur les Musiques Anciennes - Itinerant Centre for Early Music Research).
Numerous concerts and shows – more than 1,300 performed in Europe, America, Africa and Near East, the release of over forty CDs (most of them being highly awarded: Diapason d'or, Classical Awards, Choc de l'année du Monde de la Musique) and the frequent participations in radio and TV shows allowed to Organum Ensemble to play a major role in the revival of the ancient music. In 2000, New York Times included the record of Messe de Machaut by Organum Ensemble among the 100 essential records of the 20th century.
The main directions that guide the activity of the ensemble to new musical horizons are:
- understanding the ancient music in the perspective of a long time period: from the late Antiquity to the traditions that subsist nowadays;
- continuous involvement of human sciences – history of art, society and mentalities – in reflecting on the manner of producing sounds;
- distinguishing among the arts of the past, the elements that will make evolve or replace the contemporary cultural practices.
Thus, through continuous effort and finesse, Organum Ensemble is building a great history of the sacred chant - and by this – a history of the spiritual movements – which synthesize in the same area of influence different civilizations that flourished around the Mediterranean region and are situated in the eastern and western parts of Europe.
The work of Organum Ensemble and CIRMA is supported by the French Ministry of Culture, Occitania Region, General Council of Tarn and Garonne Department and Moissac Municipality.
After studying organ and composition at the Musical Conservatoire in Nice, Marcel Pérès pursued his musical training in Great Britain and Canada. He returned to Europe in 1979 and specialized in mediaeval music. In 1982 he founded Organum Ensemble where he undertook a systematic exploration of mediaeval liturgical repertoires.
In 1984, he created the Royaumont Foundation, a research program focused on the performance of mediaeval music which became CERIMM (Centre Européen pour la Recherche sur l’Interprétation des Musiques Médiévales- European Centre for Research on the Performance of Medieval Music), directed by him until 1999.
He released about fourty recordings. Most of them have been awarded the highest distinctions: Diapason d’or, Classical Awards, Choc de l’année of the Monde de la Musique.
In 2001, at the former Abbey of Moissac, Marcel Pérès created the CIRMA (Centre Itinérant de Recherche sur les Musiques Anciennes – Itinerant Centre for Early Music Research), designed to be a show case, via music, of man’s migration, his thinking and his know-how over the past centuries, and to develop a mutually informative approach between living traditions, musical archaeology and human sciences.
Marcel Pérès is also a composer and created over 30 works among which: Mysteria Apocalypsisin 2000, Contemplation– musical paraphrase of The Egyptian Book of the Dead – recorded in 2008; Misa ad Transfigurationem Sancti Jacobicreated for the 24 and 25 of July at Moissac. He was musical director of the Kaj Munk’s play Ordetat the Avignon Festival in 2008.
Marcel Pérès’ international work was acknowledged in 1990 when he was awarded the Leonardo da Vinci Prize (Prix Léonard de Vinci) by the French Secretary of State for International Cultural Relations. In 1996, the French Ministry of Culture awarded him the distinction of Fellow and in 2013 he has been awarded the distinction of Knight of Order of Arts and Letters. He is godfather of the “Marcel” bell, which was built in 2012 and consecrated on February 2, 2013 for the 850th anniversary celebration of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.