Ensemble Discantus

Gregorian chant and medieval polyphonies

Discantus is a 6 to 9 voices ensemble, founded in the early nineties, that mainly relives sacred music from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

Since its inception, it is placed under the direction of Brigitte Lesne who fully conceives programs, often with the help of musicologist Marie-Noël Colette. These are always the fruit of an original work of thematic research, using new musical transcriptions prepared for the occasion and performed directly from the manuscript sources.

Discantus meets a core of singers specialized in early music, musically flexible and able to adapt to each new project. Each singer holds a voice signature with an identifiable stamp - the opposite to any stereotype - and is also able to blend into a whole, whose immediately recognizable sound was formed over the years.

Discantus concentrated at first on the monodies and the polyphonies of the ars antiqua, the Aquitanian School and the Notre-Dame de Paris School, 11st-13th centuries, while resting on the peculiar style of the Gregorian chant: work of the melodic line, the recitation, psalmodic chant, the rhythm and the ornamentation according to the oldest manuscripts of 9th-10th centuries. This work also leans on an innermost sense of the modality, for which the practice of the Gregorian chant is an inexhaustible source.

The musical repertoires and their performance in concert have gradually expanded over new stage experiences and collaborations undertaken from the 2000s, experiences that develop even more today:
- Collaboration with childrens choirs or small female vocal ensemble, allowing the alternation of soloists parts and a "schola",
- Collaboration with organists
- Partnership with Alla Francesca to a formal relationship between medieval sacred and secular music, vocal and instrumental,
- Acquisition of a set of hand bells, played by singers like "human carillon", that became like a signature sound of the ensemble,
- Work with actors or narrator: relations between literature and medieval music,
- Advanced times with 3-parts polyphonies of 14th-15th centuries until the beginning of the Renaissance (music that benefit the knowledge acquired by Discantus in older repertories),
- Original works commissionned to composers,
- Links from medieval music to traditional songs of pilgrims
- The use of typical stringed instruments (fiddle, psaltery-harp, sinfonye ...) played by the singers themselves ...

Invited to the most prestigious festivals, Discantus performs regularly in France, in Western, Central and Eastern Europe and until Perth (Australia), New York, Fes (Morocco), Beirut (Lebanon), as well as in Central America (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua) and South America (Colombia, Ecuador).

The 17th recording of Discantus, "Nova sonet harmonia", released in 2018 by Bayard Musique. Its career discography - first CD released in 1993 - has collected many awards by the press.