In about 10 years, Scherzi Musicali has become one of the brightest stars in the early music cosmos, and is renowned for its dynamic interpretations of seventeenth and eighteenth century repertoire which its musicians explore with insatiable appetite and zeal. Whether uncovering lost gems of a forgotten musical heritage or revisiting staples of the baroque repertoire, the musicians of Scherzi Musicali apply the same exacting approach to all of the works they interpret, using philological research and reflection to guide them in their never-ending quest for the most accurate and historical performance style.
With anywhere from three to over twenty musicians, the ensemble was founded and is directed by Nicolas Achten (b. 1985), one of the few modern classical singers to accompany himself, variously, on the lute, the harp, and the harpsichord, reviving this forgotten practice. He collaborates with singers and instrumentalists with whom he has developed a sonic identity built on the interaction of continuo instruments and vocal rhetoric.
Scherzi Musicali has performed in many of Europe’s finest festivals and concert halls, including the Festival de Wallonie, Festival van Vlaanderen, deBijloke, deSingel, Concertgebouw Brugge, Amuz, Bozar, Automne Musical de Spa, Operadagen Rotterdam, Ferrara Musica, Amici Della Musica di Padova, the Venetian Festival of Baroque Music, Tage Alter Muzik Herne, Musikfestspiele Potsdam, Muzikverein Wien, Kölner Philharmonie, Itinéraire Baroque en Périgord Vert, Festival d’Ambronay, etc.
Committed to its pedagogical role, Scherzi Musicali collaborates with "Jeunesses Musicales" and "Jeugd en Muziek", to put scholarly understanding of early music at the heart of educational establishments.
Scherzi Musicali has recorded 7 CDs, including 5 world premières: Giulio Caccini (2008), “Dulcis Amor Iesu” - motets by Giovanni Felice Sances (2009), “Petits Motets” - Joseph Hector Fiocco (2009), “La Catena d’Adone” - Domenico Mazzocchi (2010), "How pleasant 'tis to Love" - songs by Henry Purcell (2012) and “Il Pianto d’Orfeo” - Monteverdi, Caccini, Peri… (2013) and Antonio Bertali’s oratorio “La Maddalena”, (2016). A second volume of Fiocco motets is beeing published in march 2017, whereas “Dialoghi Amorosi”- Sances - is set to appear in October 2017. These recordings have been edited by a number of different labels, including Alpha, Musique en Wallonie, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi/Sony, and Ricercar, which is now the ensemble’s exclusive recording partner.
Baritone, harpsichordist, lutenist, harpist and artistic director, Nicolas Achten is a rising figure in the world of early music. Prizewinner at the VIIth International Baroque Singing Competition of Chimay in 2006, he was voted Classical Artist of 2009 at the Octaves of Music Prize, and Young Musician of the Year 2009 by the Union of the Belgian Musical Press.
Born in Brussels in 1985, he studied singing, lute, harpsichord and triple harp at the Royal Conservatories of Brussels and the Hague, and completed his training at various masterclasses, including the Académie baroque d’Ambronay and the Centre de la Voix de Royaumont.
Since 2004, Nicolas has performed with some of the most prestigious early music ensembles including l’Arpeggiata, La Fenice, La Petite Bande, Ausonia, Les Agrémens, Akadêmia, Les Talens Lyriques, il Fondamento, Les Musiciens du Louvre, Il Seminario Musicale, Le Poeme Harmonique, and the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, and under the direction of conductors such as Jean Tubéry, Sigiswald Kuijken, Marc Minkowski, Christophe Rousset and René Jacobs.
He is one of the few classical singers to accompany himself on various instruments, reviving this historical practice. With the intention of furthering this practice and research, he founded the ensemble Scherzi Musicali, whose concerts and recordings have been received with unanimous enthusiasm from the public and the international press. Scherzi Musicali have been awarded Diapason d’or découverte, Joker (Crescendo magazine), La clé (ResMusica), Prelude Classics Award, 4-star of (Monde de la musique), Muse d'Or, Golden Ring (Classic Info), "Outstanding" (International Record Review), etc.
Nicolas Achten is professor of Lute at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, and professor of baroque Harp and baroque singing at the Académie de Woluwé-Saint-Lambert. He is musical director for Muziektheater Transparant’s summer courses, and is a regular guest professor at the University of East Anglia, at the Operastudio Vlaanderen, and the Yorke Trust (Norfolk).
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