Born: 1953 in France
Genres: Vocal Music
Dominique Vellard is among the most important figures in the performance and advocacy of early and Renaissance-era music. He is the founder and director of Ensemble Gilles Binchois, the early music vocal group named after the 15th century French composer. Vellard, who is also a singer, lutenist, composer, arranger, and Medieval music scholar, leads the group with adherence to historically informed performance practices. His repertory ranges up to through 17th century and includes works from India. That said, he has tended to favor French music from the Medieval and Renaissance eras, especially the works of Binchois, Dufay, Machaut, and lesser known figures like Jehannot de l'Escurel and Guillaume-Gabriel Nivers. When the Ensemble Gilles Binchois performs in concert, Vellard, a tenor, is usually among the singers and has frequently played the lute, as well. Often the EGB will sing a cappella, though when accompaniment is added, the instrumentation is modest, featuring such early instruments as lute, recorder, gittern, and shawm. Vellard has recorded for Auvidis, Cantus, Christophorus, Glossa, Harmonic, and Virgin Classics.
Vellard was born in France in 1953. From age seven he was a chorister at the Maitrise de Notre-Dame in Versailles, under organist and music director Pierre Beguigne. Vellard went on to study music at the Versailles Conservatory, and eventually became immersed in early music.
In 1979 he founded the EGB, which consists of about 10 core singer/instrumentalists, but typically expands or contracts according to demands of the repertory. Vellard and the group made their first recording in 1982, an Auvidis LP of Gregorian chant. Over the years he would lead the group on more than 30 recordings, most drawing lavish critical praise. By the 1990s Vellard and the EGB had become internationally acclaimed, not least because of their numerous tours across Germany, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, France, U.K., Hungary, Poland, and other European countries.
In 1999, Vellard, an accomplished arranger of many of the works performed by the ensemble, began to compose original music. He has written a Mass and other vocal compositions, which divulge Indian, early music, and some modern influences. In 2007, an album of his works entitled Vox nostra resonet was issued on the Glossa label.
While he has devoted a significant portion of time to composition in the new century, Vellard still regularly leads and sings with the EGB. Among the later recordings is the 2009 Glossa CD of anonymous Medieval chants entitled L'arbre de Jesse.
- Robert Cummings (All Music Guide)