Christophe Desjardins

French Viola Player (b.1962, Caen)

Chistophe Desjardins is a viola player specialising in contemporary music, highly sought after by composers. He has dedicated most of his time to sharing the viola and its repertoire with as wide an audience as possible.

After studying with Serge Collot and Jean Dupouy at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris and winning first prize for viola, Christophe Desjardins went on to further study with Bruno Giuranna at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin, in 1985. After winning the Maurice Vieux International Competition, he became a soloist at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. He then went on to work as a soloist with the Ensemble Intercontemporain for almost twenty years. He has performed many works as a soloist, including pieces by Luciano Berio, Ivan Fedele, Marco Stroppa, Michael Jarrell, Michaël Levinas and Wolfgang Rihm.

He has also performed as a soloist with other ensembles such as Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, several German symphonic orchestras (NDR, SWR et WDR), Foundation Toscanini's orchestra or Lyon's National Orchestra, and he developed a close relationship with vocal ensembles such as the Chamber Choir of Helsinki, Soloistes XXI (run by Rachis Safir) and Les cris de Paris (directed by Geoffroy Jourdain). His singular career is reflected in his recordings, which have been highly praised. In 2007, he recorded Partita I for Viola and Electronics in Real Time by Philippe Manoury; the motion capture techniques used created new possibilities in the evolution of mixed music. 

A sought after chamber musician, Christopher Desjardins was asked by Maurizio Pollini, in 2011, to perform his first chamber music “Pollini Perspectives”. He also regularly plays with the pianist Philippe Cassard and works on projects in a trio with François-Frédéric Guy and Xavier Philips

Christophe Desjardins also designs shows blending music with poetry, dance and video, to explore the viola and music from different perspectives.  He has produced shows such as Il était une fois l’alto (in 2001), Harold et son double and Chansons d’altiste.

He has taught, first at the Hochschule in Detmold and then, since 2011, at the Conservatoire in Lyon. He plays on a Francesco Goffriler made in Venice in 1730. 

Six Landmark Dates in the Life of Christophe Desjardins

1983: First Prize for Viola, unanimously awarded

1990: Joins the Ensemble Intercontemporain

2003: Plays Jubilus, Concerto for Viola by Jonathan Harvey at Radio France

2005: Releases a CD with Aeon Voix dedicated to viola music by Luciano Berio and Morton Feldman, it was well received by critics and won awards. 

2011: Begins teaching at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon

2013: Large Asia Tour, in which he plays Philippe Manoury’s Partita I in Japan, China and Korea.