Rodrigo Ferreira, Counter-tenor
Ronan Khalil, Conductor
Ronan Khalil is a multi-faceted talent. Born in France in 1986 of Lebanese parents, his musical career began as a boy soprano in the Maîtrise de Bretagne in Rennes, alongside harpsichord studies at that city’s renowned conservatoire. A pupil at the prestigious Chetham’s School in Manchester, he went on to gain diplomas at the conservatoires of The Hague and Paris, where he won the continuo prize. His teachers included Sharon Gould, Kenneth Weiss and Christophe Rousset.
Early professional successes included first prize at the 2008 International Harpsichord Competition (Fondation Marcelle et Robert de Lacour) at the Festival of Auvers-sur-Oise, and at the 2009 Paola Bernardi Harpsichord Competition in Bologna. Also that year his alma mater, the Paris Conservatoire, awarded him the Prix Oriolis-Kriegelstein. In 2012 he won the Audience Prize at the first Westfield International Harpsichord Competition in the USA.
Now much sought after as a soloist and continuo player, he has worked with such major conductors as William Christie, Christophe Rousset, Alessandro de Marchi, Laurence Cummings, and Sigiswald Kuijken. Notable festival appearances have included Ambronay, “Les Clavecins de Chartres”, the festival “Anima Mundi” in Pisa, and the Spring Organ Concert Series in Athens. He has also performed at the Auditorio Lingotto in Turin, the Grand Théâtre in Bordeaux, the Théâtre national de Toulouse, the Opéra de Vichy, Lisbon’s Centro Cultural de Belem, the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, and in venues throughout the Middle East, Asia and South America.
In 2012, he founded the Ensemble Desmarest, a vibrant new ensemble dedicated to historically-informed performance, which he has since directed in concerts from Rumania to Cuba. He also has a continuing working relationship with the baroque orchestra Il Pomo d’Oro, accompanying the world-famous countertenor Max-Emanuel Cencic in recitals in Paris, Munich, Froville, Strasbourg and Berlin. His wide-ranging versatility has also been marked by live appearances in the hugely successful production of Diderot’s Le Neveu de Rameau at the Ranelagh Theatre, Paris (2013), and, more recently, in his recording of the sound-track for Matthew Shattuck’s fashion “short” Fifty Shades of Greige (2016). This year he also directed the Ensemble Desmarest in their début album Il pianto della Madonna (B-Records, distributed by Naïve), which received rave reviews. He will soon be returning to Cuba with his ensemble, and will appear as soloist in Manuel de Falla’s Harpsichord Concerto with Havana’s Orquesta de Cámara, conducted by Leo Brouwer. Future plans include a residence and masterclasses at the Langtang Classik Festival on the Île de La Réunion, a début for Ensemble Desmarest at the 2016 Beirut Chants Festival in December, where he will also be performing a new recital programme Klagenlieder with rising star countertenor Rodrigo Ferreira, and further performances with Max-Emanuel Cencic in Strasbourg and Berlin.
The Ensemble Desmarest is a unique group of top-flight young musicians founded in 2012 by the rising star harpsichordist and director Ronan Khalil. It is very much an ensemble with a difference: dedicated to Baroque repertoire, but centred upon the human voice. This reflects Khalil’s own discovery of music through singing as a boy chorister in the Maîtrise de Bretagne, before deciding to dedicate his performing life to the harpsichord. Thus the Ensemble Desmarest’s primary intention is to promote the closest possible collaboration between singers and instrumentalists by bringing the talents of each to the foreground in order to find a common performing language in terms of musical speech, thought, and listening. Khalil’s deliberate choice of specific musicians uses their individual personalities to create a collective dynamic. Such an approach allows the group to re-define itself at each performance, and gives rise to ever-new interpretations.
In 2012, the Ensemble Desmarest became one of the young ensembles-in-residence at the Centre de rencontre culturel in Ambronay, and in 2013 became resident artists at the Singer-Polignac Foundation in Paris. They have collaborated with some of the most talented musicians of the new generation, including sopranos Jeanne Crousaud, Camille Poul, Maïlys de Villoutreys and Dagmar Saskova, countertenor Rodrigo Ferreira, tenor Manuel Nuñez Camelino, and bass Virgile Ancely. They are also members of the network La Belle Saison – Concert Halls created by Olivier Mantei and Jean-François Dubos in collaboration with the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Paris. Concert and recital venues in France have included the Opéra de Lille, the Théâtre Coulommiers, the Chapelle Méjan (Arles), the Festival de l’Abbaye de Lessay, the Deauville Festival, the Midsummer Festival at Château Hardelot, the Philippe Maillard Productions (Paris), the Festival d’Ambronay, the Festival de Lanvellec et du Tregor, the Festival et Saison “Jeunes talents” (Paris), the Auditorium of the Louvre Museum (Paris), the Chapelle Royale (Versailles), the Festival Les Ephémères (Rennes), and the Pays du Mont-Blanc Baroque Festival, while further afield they have performed in the Festival Pavia Barocca, the Bucharest Baroque Week, at the Utrecht Early Music Festival Fringe, and the Leo Brouwer Festival in Havana, to name but a few. In April 2016, the Ensemble Desmarest released its first album Il Pianto della Madonna (B-records, distributed by Naïve) to rave reviews. Alongside Jordi Savall, they will be featured international artists at the forthcoming Langtang Classik Festival on the Île de la Réunion.