The chamber orchestra LES VIOLONS DU ROY borrows its name from the renowned string orchestra of the court of the French kings. The group was brought together in 1984 by music director Bernard Labadie and specializes in the vast repertoire of music for chamber orchestra, performed in the stylistic manner most appropriate to each era. Although the ensemble plays on modern instruments, its approach to the works of the Baroque and Classical periods has been strongly influenced by current research into performance practice in the 17th and early 18th centuries; in this repertoire Les Violons du Roy uses copies of period bows. In recent seasons, under the leadership of first guest conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni, the orchestra has begun to explore 19th- and 20th-century repertoire in more depth.
Les Violons du Roy has been in residence at the Palais Montcalm since 2007. They performed in Europe in 1988 and have since given dozens of concerts in France, Germany, England, Spain, and the Netherlands with internationally renowned soloists. They have been asked to perform twice at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Their next European tour is scheduled for 2011. Since its first performance in Washington in 1995, Les Violons du Roy has extended its performance network in the United States and now makes regular stops in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The orchestra is now represented by the Opus 3 agency.
The recordings made by Les Violons du Roy have been acclaimed by critics and earned various distinctions and awards at the national and international levels. Since 2004, the association with the Québec label ATMA has led to four CDs, including the critically-acclaimed Water Music, winner of a Félix Award in 2008; Piazzolla, conducted by Jean-Marie Zeitouni and winner of a Juno Award in 2006; and Bartók, also directed by Jean-Marie Zeitouni and released in fall 2008. The group’s first collaboration with the multinational Virgin Classics label led to the fall 2006 release of a CD of cantata arias by Handel and Hasse with U.S. mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux. Another collaboration with Virgin Classics, featuring the Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk, was recorded in November 2008.
Les Violons du Roy would like to thank the Bureau de la Capitale-Nationale du Québec, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Fondation des Violons du Roy for their support.