Keyboardist Benjamin Alard is an important force in France's early music scene. He is a versatile player, performing on organ, harpsichord, and clavichord, and playing in chamber music and ensemble music as well as solo. Alard was born on July 13, 1985, in Rouen, France, and grew up in the village of Les Grandes-Ventes in the Normandy region. A local parish priest introduced him to the organ and quickly spotted his talent, sending him to the Ecole nationale de musique in Dieppe. Developing an interest in early music, Alard went on to the Rouen Conservatory, where he studied with Louis Thiry and François Ménissier. He began harpsichord studies in Paris with Elisabeth Joyé and then, in 2003, enrolled at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, studying organ with Jean-Claude Zehnder and harpsichord with Andrea Marcon. Alard won major prizes on both instruments; in 2004, he took both first prize and audience prize at the Bruges International Harpsichord Competition, with Gustav Leonhardt as judging chair. Still just 20, he was designated after a competition as "co-titulaire" of the new organ at Paris' Saint-Louis-en-l'Île church, where he established a concert series. He participated in a complete cycle of Bach's organ works performed at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris in 2009, and in 2012, he embarked on a five-year residency at the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona, Spain, performing during that period a complete cycle of Bach's harpsichord music. Alard has toured as a soloist as far afield as East Asia, Turkey, and the U.S., and he is a frequent guest at French festivals. In addition to solo performing and recording, he is a well-established collaborator with early music ensembles, notably as a continuo player for Sigiswald Kuijken's group La Petite Bande. Alard has made a number of recordings, all of them at this writing devoted to the music of Bach. He made several recordings for the Alpha label and then, in 2018, moved to Harmonia Mundi for the first volume in a cycle of Bach's complete keyboard music. In 2021, that cycle reached its fourth album, Alla Veneziana.
© James Manheim /TiVo
© James Manheim /TiVo