Raphaël Pichon has had dual careers as a countertenor, and later as the founder and director of the historically oriented choir Pygmalion. That group has developed into a major force in the performance of French Baroque opera.
Pichon was born in Paris on October 17, 1984. As a child, he sang in a famous youth choir, the Maîtrise des Petits Chanteurs in Versailles. Pichon studied the violin and piano at the Versailles Academy, but, he told Télérama, "As a child, working on the [violin], alone in my room, put me off; I only rediscovered pleasure in making music by discovering the joy of building a sound together in a choir...." Moving on to the Paris Conservatory, Pichon began to come closer to his ultimate place, studying voice and conducting. As a countertenor, he performed under some of the leading early music conductors of the early 21st century, both French and foreign, including Jordi Savall, Jean Tubéry, and Ton Koopman. Pichon founded Pygmalion in 2006 and built it into one of the most successful choral ensembles oriented toward early music. The group, accompanied by period instruments, has performed not only in France but around Europe and in China and Hong Kong. Pygmalion has especially been associated with productions of Baroque opera and has appeared on leading French stages, including the Opéra royal de Versailles and a theater at the Festival of Aix-en-Provence. The group collaborated with the Bordeaux Opera in notable productions of Rameau's operas Castor et Pollux and Dardanus -- later becoming artists-in-residence with that company -- and also worked with the venerable Opéra-Comique in Paris. For a time, Pichon also conducted the chamber choir OTrente, which specialized in Romantic and contemporary works, but he stepped down to devote full time to Pygmalion.
Pichon and Pygmalion recorded several albums for the Alpha label, beginning in 2010 with a release devoted to Bach's Missae Brevis, BWV 233, and BWV 236. In 2014, the group moved to Harmonia Mundi for a recording of Bach's rarely performed Köthener Trauermusik, BWV 244a. Pichon and Pygmalion have continued to record for Harmonia Mundi, also backing soprano Sabine Devieilhe on the album Mozart: The Weber Sisters in 2015. In 2020, the ensemble released the album Johann Sebastian Bach: Motets on Harmonia Mundi.
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