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Michel Corboz

Swiss conductor Michel Corboz has devoted himself to directing the choral music of four centuries, bringing to it conviction and stylistic integrity (and a shrewd curiosity about the music of his own time). His performances of Bach are not universally liked, but that derives more from controversy over what constitutes authenticity than from lax interpretation. Corboz has addressed himself to Italian and French opera of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as well, achieving middle ground in stylistic matters while welcoming the presence of fuller solo voices in many key roles. For his work, Corboz has been awarded numerous prizes and titles. During his studies at Fribourg's École Normale, Corboz found himself drawn to composition and solo voice performance. In 1953, he was engaged as director of music for a church in Lausanne, a position that afforded him the opportunity to direct the choral works he had come to value. By 1961, he was able to establish the Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne with a body of singers he felt could do justice to early vocal works. By 1966, the ensemble had already recorded two major works of Monteverdi, therein gaining international recognition and placing it among the foremost companies undertaking pioneering work in early Baroque music. In 1969, Corboz was appointed director of the orchestra and chorus at La Fondation Gulbenkian de Lisbon and began directing performances and making recordings with them. In 1976, another opportunity opened with Corboz's appointment as instructor of choral music at Geneva's Conservatoire Supérior de Musique, a position he held until his retirement in 2004. Reflecting the conductor's broad interests, Corboz's catalog of recordings holds works by Charpentier (David et Jonathas), Cavalli, Bach (the Passions and Mass in B minor), Mozart (Requiem and Mass in C minor), Mendelssohn (Paulus and Elias/Elijah), Brahms, Fauré, Verdi, Duruflé, Honegger, and compatriot Frank Martin. For these recordings, Corboz has collaborated with his Lausanne and Gulbenkian ensembles, as well as others such as the English Bach Festival Baroque Orchestra. Among the honors accorded Corboz are the Grand Prize of Lausanne (1990), Portugal's Ordre de l'Infant Don Henrique, and Argentina's Prize of Critics (1995 and 1996). Corboz was also awarded the title of Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France, and was the subject of a French language documentary film in 2002, Michel Corboz, les voix, ma passion ("Michel Corboz - Voices, My Passion.")
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