The French vocal ensemble Solistes XXI, founded in 1988 (as les jeunes solistes) by its artistic director Rachid Safir, has been based at the Fondation Royaumont since the start of 2001.
With a complement ranging from 4 to 20 singers, Solistes XXI is actually an ensemble of soloists. Continual work together is
important to them, even though – as a rule – they sing with only one
voice to a part.
Solistes XXI cover a repertoire from the renaissance to
contemporary music: Gesualdo, Purcell, Monteverdi, Blow and Jannequin
stand beside Vivier, Klaus Huber, Ferneyhough, Eötvös, Pécou and
Harvey, and often both eras are combined to create stimulating
programmes. The focus is on old music and very new music, but Ravel,
Poulenc, Debussy and many others also find a place.
Solistes XXI can draw on
a rich literature from the past. But from the start, they gave out
commissions for premieres. The composers with whom they have
collaborated on new works include Huber, Xenakis, Pauset, Pécou and
For fifteen years, Solistes XXI
have been giving concerts throughout France, and sung at international
events and festivals. They have just been heard in Graz, at the
Steirischer Herbst, where they were onstage for the premiere of
Bernhard Lang's "Theater der Wiederholungen".
Solistes XXI have made numerous CDs; the latest is a recording of Klaus Huber's Miserere hominibus.