Yale Voxtet and the Sebastians to Present ‘Voices of Versailles’ with Music by Charpentier, Lully & de La Guerre

By Chris Ruel

On Saturday, November 18, 2023, at 5 p.m., the early music ensemble the Sebastians and the Yale Voxtet will unite for a special performance at the Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church in New York City.

The ensembles will present “Voices of Versailles,” spotlighting French baroque vocal music with a particular focus on composers Jacquet de La Guerre and Charpentier. Jacquet de La Guerre, recognized for being the first woman in France to compose an opera, enjoyed the patronage of King Louis XIV. Meanwhile, Charpentier navigated Lully‘s monopoly on opera as Louis XIV’s favorite composer.

Chapentier’s “La Couronne de fleurs,” H. 486, a seldom-presented composition for chamber ensemble, will be featured at the center of the program. The piece, featuring text by Molière, celebrates Louis XIV’s military victories by portraying joyful shepherds celebrating the end of war.

Yale Voxtet features sopranos Juliet Papadopoulos and Ellen Robertson, mezzo-sopranos Sandy Sharis and Veronica Roan, tenors Michaël Hudetz and Trevor Scott, and baritones Peter Schertz and Fredy Bonilla. Accompanying Voxtet are the musicians from the Sebastians, including Margaret Owens (oboe and recorder), Geoffrey Burgess (oboe and recorder), Daniel Lee (violin), Nicholas DiEugenio (violin), Jessica Troy (viola), Ezra Seltzer (cello), Nathaniel Chase (violone), Charles Weaver (theorbo), and Jeffrey Grossman (harpsichord)

In an official press release, the Sebastians’ Artistic Director Jeffrey Grossman, who teaches at Yale Institute of Sacred Music, said, “It’s so rewarding to dive into the French style with young singers specializing in early music. French music is in many ways the most complicated—textual nuance, complex ornamentation, the gentle swing of notes inégales, and particularly delicious harmonies. French style was such a strong element of Henry Purcell’s music, as well, that we decided to include one of his odes, to demonstrate the influence of the trendy Versailles court across the Channel.”