Laurence Equilbey

Artistic Director of accentus choir and Insula orchestra, in residence at La Seine Musicale. A season of 35 concerts including guest orchestras and artists

Musical Director of Insula orchestra and accentus, Laurence Equilbey is renowned for her demanding, yet open-minded approach to her art. Her exploration of the symphonic repertory has seen her conducting the orchestras of Lyon, Bucharest, Warsaw, Akademie für alte Musik Berlin, Hessischer Rundfunk, Gothenburg, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the philharmonic orchestras of Brussels, Liège, Leipzig, Frankfurt. She regularly conducts the Orchestra of the Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie and works as an associate artist of the Paris Chamber Orchestra. Laurence Equilbey founded Insula orchestra in 2012, an ensemble devoted to the classical and pre-Romantic repertory, using period instruments. 

Laurence Equilbey conducts Mozart's Great Mass in C Minor

22 Jun 2017

Laurence Equilbey conducts Insula orchestra and accentus chorus in six performances of one of Mozart's most celebrated works, the Great Mass in C Minor, in June and July. The...

Laurence Equilbey conducts Insula orchestra in a staged production of Haydn’s Creation

11 May 2017

Insula orchestra, conducted by Laurence Equilbey, performs a staged production of Haydn’s Creation at La Seine Musicale in Paris. Almost 100 artists will take part in a digital...

Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra open La Seine Musicale in Paris

22 Apr 2017

Laurence Equilbey conducts Insula orchestra for the inaugural concert of La Seine Musicale in Paris, with a programme of works by Mozart, Beethoven, Weber and Berlioz. The opening of this vast and...

Laurence Equilbey will conduct the 200th anniversary concert of Niels Gade

22 Feb 2017

Laurence Equilbey will conduct the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Choir on Thursday 23 February for the 200th anniversary concert of Niels Gade at the ...

Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra’s new home featured in The Times

23 Jan 2017

The Times recently published a full-page article on La Seine Musicale, the new concert venue to the West of Paris, which will be the Insula orchestra’s new home from April 2017. Laurence Equilbey...

Insula orchestra and Viktoria Mullova in Santander

10 Oct 2016

After two successful concerts in Sceaux, France, Insula orchestra, Laurence Equilbey and Viktoria Mulova performing on 10 October in Santander, Spain at the Palacio de Festivales de Cantabria in a...

Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra concert recorded for Warner and live streamed on Arte

16 Sep 2016

After a short summer break, Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra are touring again with their ‘Solemn Mozart’ programme, which features Solemn Vespers KV 339 and the ...

Rave reviews for Laurence Equilbey’s staged performance of Mozart’s early opera Lucio Sillia

15 Aug 2016

Laurence Equilbey’s staged performance of Mozart’s early opera Lucio Sillia harvests further outstanding reviews, this month in Gramophone and Opera Magazine.

In Gramophone, Peter...

Laurence Equilbey returns to the Philharmonie de Paris with the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris in a Gounod programme

20 Jun 2016

On 22 June, Laurence Equilbey, a leading Gounod specialist, will bring life to his lost oratorio St Francis of Assisi. This lost score was rediscovered in 2011, much to the delight of...

Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra return to Austria for Mozart’s Lucio Silla

27 Apr 2016

As part of their international touring this season, which included London’s Barbican in September and Basel in March, Laurence Equilbey and

Insula orchestra return to Austria for Mozart’s...

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“Equilbey likes brisk tempi, but always with room for nuances, atmosphere, variation and warmth. In addition, she structured this one-and-a-half-hour performance as a rounded narrative, with nothing lacking and nothing overpowered. Above all, she kept both instruments and voices in total balance.  ”

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Reinhard J. Brembeck - May 2017

“Equilbey is tough and has vision. One can tell by listening to her recordings of the Brahms Requiem or the "Seven Last Words" by Haydn. With accentus, she favours a flexible and dark sound for the choir and holds all the voices perfectly in balance. The upper voices do not dominate and one can hear very clearly the middle voices and other details; this was also the case in Vienna. Equilbey’s trademark is a wonderful amalgam of French and German aesthetics, combining unsentimental clarity and profound feeling.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Reinhard J. Brembeck - May 2017

“The acoustics of the Seine Musicale are simply excellent [...] Insula orchestra played with great vitality throughout. Rarely has Mozart been performed more accurately than by Laurence Equilbey and her splendid musicians.  ”

Peter Krause, - Apr 2017

“This was exactly the inaugural kick the opening needed, and I doubt if anyone in the hall didn’t rejoice at the encore of this early (1808) Ode to Joy.  ”

David Nice, The Arts Desk - May 2017

“[About Gluck's Orfeo Ed Euridice CD] Equilbey and the Insula Orchestra are painstaking in their re-creation of Gluck's original sound world: period strings and brass underscore the harshness of Orfeo's isolation where the warmer sound of conventional instruments tends to console. Speeds are brisk, but in veering away from Muri-like solemnity.”

Tim Ashley - Gramophone, October 2015 - Jan 2017

“[About Gluck's Orfeo Ed Euridice CD] . The insula orchestra and the superlative accentus chorus under Laurence Equilbey deliver a knock-out performance.”

Jens F. Laurson - Forbes, July 2016 - Jan 2017

“Insula orchestra and a quartet of singers performed the opening chorus to Mozart’s opera [La finta giardiniera], “Welches vergnügen, welch frohe Tage,” with taut, elegant phrasing and refined tone under Equilbey’s direction.    ”

Rebecca Schmid -, April 2017 - Apr 2017

“Equilbey expertly coordinated all the musicians, with particularly impressive phrasing in the low strings that shadowed the singers.  ”

Rebecca Schmid -, April 2017 - Apr 2017

“[About Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice CD] This is a big spotlight for the relatively little-known Insula orchestra and accentus choir who are led by Laurence Equilbey with verve and delicacy [...] Equilbey, Insula and accentus make their UK debut at the Barbican on September 21. My appetite is duly whetted. ”

The Times - Neil Fisher - Jan 2017

“[About Mozart's Requiem CD] If the sheer number of recorded versions of Mozart's Requiem may have made the lay ear blase, Laurence Equilbey's version is fascinating and fresh from start to finish.[...]   [Equilbey}, who has completely interiorised the intensity of the work's subject matter; offers us a scalpel-sharp interpretation, full of energy with a strong rhythmic pulse. Limpid with perfectly detailed architecture, amplified by the very strong cohesion between soloists, orchestra and choir. DMP, La Marseillaise ”

DMP, La Marseillaise - Jan 2017

“[About Lucio Silla] The real heroes of the evening were Laurence Equilbey and her Insula orchestra, who produced lithe, strongly muscled playing that never stepped outside stylistic bounds, while at the same time paying due homage to the Italianate lyricism so deeply imbibed by the young Mozart.”

Brian Robins - Opera magazine - Aug 2016

“[About Lucio Silla] A scintillating if not swiftly paced two-and-a-half-hours ensues. Equilbey brings a choral trainer's zeal for accents on the button to her period-instrument orchestra and restlessly inventive harpsichord continuo. ”

Peter Quantrill - Gramophone - Aug 2016

“  [...] Superb Lucio Silla in Vienna [...] Insula orchestra played Mozart’s intricate score with élan and sensitivity. The many sforzando and fp markings were meticulously observed and there was admirable attention to orchestral detail. Period brass were excitingly raspy and the strings had a bright sonority which the excellent acoustics of the house displayed to the utmost. [...] Full review here: 4 star review  ”

Bachtrack - Jonathan Sutherland - Apr 2016

“[About Lucio Silla] ... She [Laurence Equilbey] managed to unfold a wide array of colours from the historic instruments of the excellent Insula Orchestra and she demonstrates a true passion for music. The evening ends in a thundering applause.”

Salzburger Nachrichten - Ernst Strobl - Apr 2016

“[About Lucio Silla at the Theater an der Wien] The Insula Orchestra under Laurence Equilbey also makes a stand. From the first bars, the brass grabs you, as do modeled accents in the higher strings. [...]”

The Writing is on the Wall: “Lucio Silla” at Theater an der Wien by Anik LaChev - Apr 2016

“Although determined as a conductor, her [Laurence Equilbey] appearance is mainly characterised by human warmth and delicacy.”

Anja Wernicke - Basellandschaftlich Zeitung (BZ) - Mar 2016

“There was an air of novelty with the female conductor Laurence Equilbey and the Insula Orchestra from Paris, who - instead of speeding metronomically - presented a Beethoven with infinite colouring [...] The moderate pace and a accented precision were especially impressive with a united phrasing, which is so unusual in our linear world.”

Verena Naegele - Basler Zeitung - Mar 2016

“[About the Messiah with BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales] The French conductor Laurence Equilbey presided over the forces of the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales with admirable discipline and flair.[...] To Equilbey’s considerable credit, her insight into Handel’s structure and pacing meant she could inject new bursts of energy into those moments where things often risk flagging. She also made judicious use of dynamic colouring: in the final Amen chorus, the subject was introduced so quietly as to sound completely different from usual, allowing the work’s joyous affirmation to re-emerge with ringing conviction at the very end.[...] This was consummate Handelian artistry.”

Rian Evans - The Guardian - Dec 2015

“[About the "Orfeo ed Euridice" CD] Unquestionably one of the top version of this infinitely moving work.”

Brian Robins - Early Music Today - Nov 2015

“[About Orfeo ed Euridice CD] A new benchmark. [...] These great soloists are supported by a perfect ensemble, the Insula orchestra: very accurate in their attack yet not harsh, and with a beautiful sound.[...] The direction of Laurence Equilbey is absolutely remarkable, both contrasting and balanced. [...] Gluck is very lucky to get to be performed in such a way!”

Jean Michel Pennetier - Forumopé - Nov 2015

“[About the "Orfeo ed Euridice" CD] The performances, recorded live at the Theatre de Poissy earlier this year, have bags of energy and crackle with immediacy, Equilbey and her French period-instrument Insula Orchestra displaying instinctive flair for 18th-century style. There’s a strong portrayal of the hero from rising-star countertenor Franco Fagioli, his forthright, mellow tone and high-lying timbre well-suited to a role created for a castrato. (4* review)”

Graham Roger - Sinfini - Sep 2015

“[About the " Magnificat" concert series] Accentus and Insula gave a noble and articulate reading of Mozart’s Vesperae solennae de confessore, grand in scale and urgent in delivery.”

Peter Quantrill - The Arts Desk - Sep 2015

“[About the "Orfeo ed Euridice" CD]Laurence Equilbey conducts her period-instrument Insula Orchestra with a keen grip on rhythm and contrasts.”

Richard Fairman - Financial Times - Sep 2015

“[About the "Magnificat" concert serie] The orchestra, under Equilbey’s supervision, never seemed in any danger of running out of puff ”

Hanna Nepil - Financial Times - Sep 2015

“The even more subtle and refined orchestra, the expertise of accentus and the excellent choice of both editions and soloists make you want to share this performance widely!”

Berenice Clerc - Toute la Culture - Apr 2015

“[About the « Battle & Victory » concert series at Cité de la musique, October 2014]  The precise and chiseled direction from Laurence Equilbey gives relief to every note in the score, leading the ensemble with grace and gravity”

Bérénice Clerc - Toute la Culture - Oct 2014

“[About Mozart's Requiem CD released in September 2014] A CD to listen to without moderation, with the possible risk of addiction or even dependence !”

Bérénice Clerc - Toute la Culture - Sep 2014

“[About the "Magnificat" concert series] Equilbey maintained light but effective control over all three pieces, encouraging her orchestra to display its range of colour with skill and confidence”

George Hall - The Guardian - Sep 2015

“[About the "Magnificat" concert series] Insula Orchestra and accentus are sophisticated music makers. The voices blended softly with the timbre of the strings. (…) the programme and the performances were beautifully poised and were marked by elegant commitment. More please. Especially if it’s Zelenka!””

Anna Magdalena’s Notebook - Sep 2015

“[About the "Magnificat" concert serie] Most satisfying of all was the Mozart, given a performance that at once confirmed the impression given by Equilbey’s CD of the Requiem that she is that rare beast, a born Mozartian. Absence of mannerism, beautifully judged tempos and balance in both chorus and orchestra, allied to fine playing and choral singing and a fine line-up of soloists all went to contributing as satisfying a performance of the work as one is likely to encounter.”

Brian Robins - Early Music Review - Aug 2015

“[...]of rare beauty and perfection. [...] A tremendous performance, hailed as a triumph by a hugely enthusiastic audience, who were totally overwhelmed by the exceptional moment of rare intensity that they had just experienced.”

Michel Egea- Destimed - Apr 2015

“The Music Director of accentus and Insula orchestra presented one of the most beautiful versions imaginable of this Gluck opera [Orfeo Ed Euridice]. [...] Absolute perfection, especially with the great Argentinian countertenor, Franco Fagioli.”

Jean-Remi Barland- La Provence - Apr 2015

“[About The Desert recording] [...]gold-standard version[...] Laurence Equilbey gives the score its full value by infusing it with life and passion.”

Jose Pons- Opera Magazine - Mar 2015

“ Laurence Equilbey conducts a revival [of the Desert], which is both polished and uplifting. Released on the Naïve label in two formats (with and without narrator), performed by the accentus choir and the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, the symphonic ode by Felicien David shines forth in all its grandeur as an oriental saga in cinemascope.  ”

Pierre Gervasoni - Le Monde - Mar 2015

“ The discovery of a very beautiful recording.”

Lionel Esparza - [Le casque et l’enclume] on France Musique Radio - Feb 2015

“ Pleasant surprise on rediscovery the work, very well performed.”

Christian Merlin - [Le Figaro] on France Musique Radio - Feb 2015

“ It really is an immense pleasure, it is remarkably conducted by Laurence Equilbey, with great precision and a lot of fervor. One can hear this fervor in the orchestra in the accentus choir, and it is magnificently sung by Cyrille Dubois [...].  ”

Richard Marter - [Opera Magazine] on France Musique Radio - Feb 2015

“ […] this is a Requiem to remember.  ”

David Threasher - Gramophone Collector - Jan 2015

“ Balance generally-[…]-is superbly managed by experienced conductor, Laurence Equilbey. And for all Equilbey’s avoidance of theatricality it’s the sens of detail, care and attention she imparts as well as fluency that makes her interpretation memorable.  ”

George Hall - BBC Music Magazine - Dec 2014

“ Equilbey moulds everything with sensitivity and handles the balance issues in the resonant acoustic […] very well  ”

Andrew McGregor - BBC Radio 3 CD Review - Dec 2014

“ Excellent balance between the choir and instruments[…] Equilbey’s willingness to let the music flow naturally within and among the sections lends this Requiem a sense of unity, making it emotionally trenchant even in the sections that Mozart himself did not live to complete.  ” - Oct 2014

“Laurence Equilbey conducting the MDR Symphony Orchestra is a master in the art of clear signs. She developed a sensual sound with a remarkable rigour, avoiding to drown this festive musical literature into kitsch and instead painted and developed beautiful nuances with details and yet size and complete perspective. [...]   Max Regers’s "Maria sitzt am Rosenhag" from "Schlichten Weisen" for soprano and chamber orchestra is a true discovery. Performed between pieces by Mendelssohn which shined with clarity and precision –"Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich" and extracts from his oratorio "Erde, Hölle und Himmel", and excerpts from Beethoven’s incidental music "King Stephen", it was smartly positioned in the programme and gave a intense impression. [...]   And after "O, du Fröhliche" that she invited the audience to sing along, the French conductor received a burst of clapping and a standing ovation to express the joy shared over the huge success of this Christmas concert.”

Tatjana Boehme-Mehner - Leipziger Volkszeitung - Dec 2014

“At the head of Insula orchestra, Laurence Equilbey cultivates the same sobriety, the same intelligent insight into the text.”

Elsa Fottorino - La lettre du musicien - Nov 2013

“Equilbey’s conducting asserts great wisdom and a voluntary simplicity”

Jean-Luc Macia - Diapason - Nov 2014

“An orchestral sound like no other – sumptuous strings, pleasant winds, juicy brass, unique percussion – all serving to support a powerful and majestic choir and soloists.  A great discovery”

Michel Egéa - DestiMed - Oct 2014

“The young musicians of the Insula orchestra (…) give it passion, the excellent choir accentus delicacy, the chief conductor Laurence Equilbey provides benevolent energy – and not to mention the exceptional soloists, such as Sandrine Piau. ”

Séverine Garnier - TGV Magazine - Oct 2014

“A new and magnificent version of Mozart’s Requiem”

Renaud Machart - Le Monde - Sep 2014

“(…) conductor Laurence Equilbey has stamped her mark on [Mozart’] master work, drawing the quintessence from her ensemble… The thunderous applause that followed the deathly silence as the closing notes of the Lux Aeterna died away said it all about this magnificent interpretation!”

Christophe Floquet - Zibeline - Feb 2014

“The magnificent evening was a consecration for conductor [Laurence Equilbey] in complete osmosis with her musicians... Equilbey’s precise gestures enhance the melodic intensity, amplified by sharp cueing and an obsessive pulse… As though transcended, Laurence Equilbey opts for frank tempi and builds an architecture that delivers with fervour and humility the highly spiritual nature of this score.”

Florence Michel - ResMusica - Feb 2014

“If the sheer number of recorded versions of Mozart’s Requiem may have made the lay ear blasé, Laurence Equilbey’s version is fascinating and fresh from start to finish… [Equilbey], who has completely interiorised the intensity of the work’s subject matter, offers us a scalpel-sharp interpretation, full of energy with a strong rhythmic pulse. Limpid with perfectly detailed architecture, amplified by the very strong cohesion between soloists, orchestra and choir… Hence the particularly warm ovation that greeted Laurence Equilbey and her orchestra at the end of the performance.”

La Marseillaise - Feb 2014

“The interpretation of Mozart’s Requiem which, since the inaugural Dialoge, has traditionally closed the festival, was en event full of energy and enthusiasm, executed with spirit and passion by the Mozarteum Orchestra, under the precise and charismatic guidance of conductor Laurence Equilbey.”

Heidemarie Klabacher - Dreh Punkt Kultur - Dec 2013

“Conductor Laurence Equilbey picks out the woodwind voices with a hand voluptuous as Mozart (…).”

Éric Loret – Libération - Feb 2013

“Michel Fau’s poetically zany stage interpretation and the subtle conducting of Laurence Equilbey give Reynaldo Hahn’s ‘Ciboulette’ a new lease of life… In the pit, Laurence Equilbey unequivocally confirms her status as one of France’s upcoming conductors. Her precision, passionate energy and authority bring the Orchestra of the Toulon Opera to the level of cohesion and subtlety demanded by the deceptively simple music of Reynaldo Hahn, an elegant descendant of Mozart and Massenet.”

Gilles Macassar - Télé - Feb 2013

“Under the guidance of Laurence Equilbey, the Orchestra of the Toulon Opera shines or murmurs (the introduction to Act III is marvellous) with supple flute and woody bassoon. The firmly held supporting roles coo gently and the accentus choir sparkles.”

Emmanuelle Giuliani - - Feb 2013

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Conductor and musical director of Insula orchestra and accentus chorus, Laurence Equilbey is acknowledged for her demanding, yet open-minded approach to her art. Her exploration of the symphonic repertoire has seen her conducting the orchestras of Lyon, Bucharest, Hessischer Rundfunk, Goteborg, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Brussels Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Akademie für alte Musik Berlin, the philharmonic orchestras of Liège, Leipzig, Francfort, etc.

Laurence Equilbey has studied music in Paris, Vienna and London, and conducting with Eric Ericson, Denise Ham, Colin Metters and Jorma Panula.

She is an associate artist of the Paris Chamber Orchestra, a resident artist of the Grand Théâtre de Provence in Aix-en-Provence, an associate artist of the Opera de Rouen Haute Normandie (with accentus), a companion of the Cité de la musique/Philharmonie de Paris and Artistic Director and Director of Education at the Department for Young Singers at the Paris Conservatory. 

In 2012, with support from the Conseil général des Hauts-de-Seine, she founded Insula orchestra, an ensemble devoted to the classical and pre-Romantic repertoire, using period instruments. From 2017, Laurence Equilbey will be responsible for programing a classical music series of about 30 concerts per season at the Auditorium of La Seine Musicale, featuring concerts of both the Insula orchestra and international guest ensembles. The new Paris arts centre, designed by Shigeru Ban on an island in the Seine at the south west side of Paris, will be launched in April 2017.

Laurence Equilbey’s extensive recorded work on the naïve lQabel has received wide critical acclaim. In September 2015, she released her first CD for Deutsche Grammophon of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, with acclaimed countertenor Franco Fagioli and sopranos Malin Hartelius and Emmanuelle de Negri. She will release this year the recently uncovered score of Gounod Saint Francois d’Assise, and will further record for the Warner label some lieder by Schubert orchestrated by Liszt, Brahms, Strauss, Berlioz etc. for the Warner label.

Laurence Equilbey is also an accomplished opera conductor. Past operatic engagements comprise Mozart’s Lucio Silla (Theater an der Wien), Reynaldo Hahn's Ciboulette (Opéra Comique), Britten’s Albert Herring (Opéra de Rouen Haute-Normandie and Opéra Comique), Weber’s Der Freischütz (Opéra de Toulon), Sous apparence (Opéra de Paris) and Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice (Cite de la Musique), Die Zauberflöte (Avignon Opera). In 2018, she will be conducting a newly commissioned production of La Nonne Sanglante at the Opera Comique to celebrate Gounod’s 200th birthday.

Highlights of Laurence Equilbey’s upcoming concerts include the 200th anniversary concert of Niels Gade with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Choir (Feb. 2017, recorded for audio release and filmed for the Danish TV), the opening gala concert of La Seine Musicale featuring Sandrine Piau (April 2017), Haydn’s Creation in an astonishing version staged by the catalan group Fura Dels Baus (March, May & June 2017), Beethoven’s Egmont (Sept. 2017), tour in Poland & Germany (Nov. and Dec. 2017), Brahms’ German Requiem by Thomas Hampson and the Gulbenkian Orchestra (Jan. 2018), to name just a few projects.


June 2017