Presenting The Four Nations Ensemble

The Four Nations Ensemble

Founded in 1986, The Four Nations Ensemble brings together soloists, frontrunners from several generations, who are leading exponents of period instrument and vocal performance. With a core ensemble of soprano, harpsichord or fortepiano, 2 violin, flute, and cello, Four Nations’ repertory runs from the Renaissance through Viennese Classical masterpieces of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.

For four decades, Four Nations has developed a leading presence on the early music scene in New York and across the country. Four Nations has performed at major houses and on prestigious series throughout the United States including The Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center. The Ensemble has participated in festivals including The Boston Early Music Festival, New York's Mostly Mozart, Amherst Festival, New Haven's International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Maverick Concerts in New York, Chautauqua, The Indiana Early Music Festival, and Brasilseguridade in Rio de Janeiro. Of special interest is Four Nations' resident ensemble status for both the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA and the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT. where the rich holdings of the two art collections and the brilliant curatorial staffs are an inspiration for music programming.

The Four Nations Ensemble takes its name from one of France's most extraordinary institutions. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Louis XIV and Mazarin, in order to establish a centralized bureau for the arts to reflect the glory of Versailles and Paris in this golden age, created The College of Four Nations. "Four Nations" alludes to the four monarchies that were considered legitimate by the French crown: France, Spain, Austria and Savoy. It was here the academies of poetry, music, dance, and painting were housed. All these endeavors have created an aura around this great period in French history whose artistic accomplishments continue to enrich our lives as we enter the 21st century. François Couperin's exquisite sonatas called "The Nations" allude to this "college" or French Royal "National Endowment for the Arts." The Four Nations Ensemble, in its love for Couperin's music has adopted the name as its own.

Meet the members of the Four Nations Ensemble:

Andrew Appel, harpsichord, fortepiano and artistic director
Pascale Beaudin, soprano
Olivier Brault, violin
Charles Brink, traverso
Kyle Miller, viola
Loretta O' Sullivan, cello

Meet our Guest Artists for the season.

Past highlights include a major appearance at The Boston Early Music Festival & Exhibition; three week-long residencies with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in which the Ensemble led the orchestra in an examination of Baroque style through well known and rare masterworks for large ensembles; the release of Four Nations' seven CDs to remarkable press notices; the development of special programs for The 92nd Street Y, the Clark Art Institute and the Wadsworth Atheneum. Four Nations' intrigue with the interrelationship of music, art and literature has also led to performances for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Center for British Art at Yale University, and the Bard Graduate Center.

The Ensemble presents two series of its own design. Hudson River Harvest Concerts, in its 25th year performs in historic homes and great barns, and a New York City series, in its 30th year. The Ensemble was invited to perform at Columbia University’s Maison Française in a series of concerts celebrating Rameau and Leclair and then the dominance of French Culture throughout 17th and 18th century Europe. These concerts were preceded by short lectures and conversations among renowned scholars of French literature, art and society in the old regime. Now the Ensemble had returned to Merkin Hall where the 2017 season will explore facets and inspirations to J. S. Bach.

As Four Nations distinguishes itself with imaginative and innovative programming, t is not unusual for the Ensemble to unite the music of Purcell and Schönberg, Haydn with French Canadian and Cajun fiddling, François Couperin and Chinese Court Music. Such adventurous programming has led to invitations to perform at The Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater and in New York's WQXR's June Festival of Quartets at Lincoln Center and serve as the resident chamber music ensemble at New Haven's International Festival of Arts & Ideas. Four Nations appeared on the Great Performers Series in Lincoln Center's inaugural season of chamber music concerts at the Walter Reade Theater. The Ensemble's extraordinary programming was spotlighted by Chamber Music America at the 1996 CMA conference where Andrew Appel was asked to lead a seminar demonstrating the possibilities in the imaginative juxtaposition of music from very different cultures.

The Four Nations Ensemble often appears on "collection" and "historical music society" series such as those at the Smithsonian and the Midwest Historical Keyboard Society. One of the Ensemble's performances at the Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments included music by Couperin, Rameau, Debussy and Duparc on the collections' great keyboard instruments. In recognition of its dedication to unusual repertoire, Four Nations has also served as Ensemble-in-Residence at the New York Public Library's Special Collections at Lincoln Center.

Four Nations' Arts in Education programs highlight the Ensemble's commitment to bringing the joy of chamber music to diverse audiences of all ages. The Ensemble's public school program, allows Four Nations a week-long residency, particularly in under-served communities, with elementary or middle school children to integrate the arts into the regular curriculum. With its origins in public schools in Brooklyn and the Bronx, our Arts in Education program has allowed Four Nations to work with children in communities throughout the country including Woodstock and Hudson, New York; Minnesota; Colorado and Texas. In 1997 Four Nations received the Columbia County Council on the Arts' Arts-in-Education Recognition Award for its work with the Hudson City School District. Featured in Musical America's 1997 International Directory and Early Music America magazine's "Early Music in the Classroom" (Fall 1998), our Arts in Education program has become a prototype for similar programs around the country and continues to attract support from private foundations and municipal funds in New York. In the 1998-99 academic year, Four Nations served as the Classical Music Ensemble for Lincoln Center Institute's Arts-in-Education Repertory.

In 1999, director Andrew Appel was asked to consult with the Amarillo Symphony in creating a long- term program between the Orchestra and the Amarillo school system. Here, he worked with members of the Symphony, developing skills in communication both with teachers and students. In 1999-2000, the Ensemble held a multi-faceted residency with the Jacksonville Symphony. Along with education work in the schools, Four Nations worked with the Symphony, bringing recent ideas of early music style and performance to the musicians. Concerts included both orchestral works and chamber music. The Ensemble has also developed special relationships with colleges and universities throughout the country giving professional workshops in performance practice and lecture demonstrations connecting classical music to the larger arena of humanities studies. Beginning with a prestigious Residency Grant from Chamber Music America, Four Nations Guest Artist Residency with King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania flourished into a special and unique relationship with King's College and surrounding communities. Four Nations received new support from Chamber Music America Ensemble Residency Grant for its work with Gettysburg College to further its work with the students, faculty and the surrounding community.

Four Nations has received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts (NYSCA), New York City's Department for Youth Services and Department of Cultural Affairs. In 1998, the Ensemble received a challenge grant from NYSCA for "institutional stabilization" which has allowed Four Nations to continue its growth and increase its performance and recording activities with an administrator. For its Handel & Venice and Haydn in London touring programs, The Four Nations Ensemble was a participant in Chamber Music America's Music Performance Program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

The Four Nations Ensemble records for London based Orchid Classics for which recent recordings of Geminiani and Handel as well as Couperin and Leclair have received remarkable notice in the press. Previous on ASV/Gaudeamus the Ensemble recorded the complete trios of Johann Schobert. oprano Christine Brandes joined the Ensemble for Handel & Porpora: The Rivals, initiating Four Nations' "Handel Compar'd" Project. Countertenor Matthew White joined Four Nations for the second Handel Compar'd recording Handel & Vivaldi. Haydn: The Battle of the Nile and Sonatas and Cantatas of Antonio Caldara are Four Nations' followed with mezzo-soprano Jennifer Lane. The Four Nations Ensemble has been recorded frequently for broadcast on National Public Radio.

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