Laurence Equilbey

French orchestral and choral conductor (born 1962 in Paris)

Laurence Equilbey likes challenges. After earning recognition as a woman choral conductor at the head of a choir she set up herself, Accentus, she is repeating the exercise with her orchestral ensemble, Insula Orchestra.

Laurence Equilbey did her musical training in Paris, Vienna and London with teachers who were musicians themselves, including Eric Ericson, Denise Ham, Colin Metters and Jorma Panula. In 1991, she founded a chamber choir in Paris, Accentus, whose repertoire of a cappella music and oratorio from the eighteenth century to the present was rapidly expanded to include a large number of first performances of contemporary works. The supreme recognition came in 2001, when the disc Transcriptions sold 130,000 copies. Accentus won Best Vocal Ensemble awards in the Victoires de la Musique Classique in 2002, 2005 and 2008. A partnership with the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris was established in 2009. Laurence Equilbey also regularly conducts the Orchestre de l'Opéra de Rouen-Haute-Normandie, where she is in residence with Accentus. In 2012, she founded the Insula Orchestra, an orchestral ensemble that plays the Classical and pre-Romantic repertoires on period instruments. The orchestra released its first recording - Mozart's Requiem - in 2014. Laurence Equilbey's growing renown has prompted invitations to conduct major European ensembles, such as Café Zimmermann, the Akademie für alte Musik Berlin, the Concerto Köln, the Camerata Salzburg and the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg.

Laurence Equilbey also takes a keen interest in the opera repertoire. She has conducted Britten's Albert Herring at the Opéra de Rouen, Weber's Freischütz at the Opéra de Toulon and Reynaldo Hahn's Ciboulette at the Opéra Comique in Paris. In the educational sphere, she set up a special department for young singers at the Paris regional conservatoire (CRR) in 2002. In 2009, she embarked on an ambitious project that merges classical and electronic music, called Private Domain. For this project, she is working with Rosemary Standley, the singer from Moriarty, the electronic musicians Murcof, Para One and Marc Collin, and she has adopted a stage name, Iko. The show was premiered at the Printemps de Bourges festival. That same year, Cécile Patingre produced a documentary film on Laurence Equilbey, called Figure humaine.

In September 2015, Deutsche Grammophon released the recording of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, for which Laurence Equilbey worked with Insula Orchestra, Accentus and soloists Franco Fagioli (Orfeo), Malin Hartelius (Euridice) and Emmanuelle de Negri (Amore). Now an established artist, Laurence Equilbey has received the titles of Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur (2008), Officier de l'Ordre national du Mérite (2011) and Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2012).

Six landmark dates in the life of Laurence Equilbey:
• 1991: set up the Accentus choir
• 2001: released Transcriptions (Naïve) with Accentus
• 2002: first award in the Victoires de la Musique Classique
• 2009: Private Domain at the Printemps de Bourges festival
• 2012: founded the Insula Orchestra
• 2014: Requiem by Mozart (Naïve), Accentus and Insula Orchestra

Official website:

Biography compiled from Radio France Documentation, September 2015