Chantez gayement

From Geneva to Basel
Sun 31.10.21

Historical Museum Basel

"Chantez gayement" - From Geneva to Basel


arodie, contrafacture, imitatio, transformation – in the Renaissance, originality was not considered an absolute quality of an artist, but rather an attempt to imitate and reuse models left by previous generations. In this spirit, ReRenaissance presents in October a selection of psalms from the Geneva Psalter that circulate from one composer to another, from one poet to the next – to the point where the singers themselves help shape the early music.

Jean-Christophe Groffe – voice; direction | Doron Schleifer, David Munderloh, Matthieu Romanens – voice | Olivier Wyrwas – table organ | Direction team ReRenaissance: Tabea Schwartz | Workshop choir ReRenaissance | The audience

Watercolored and washed pen and ink drawing; Inv. 1886.8, part 2, fol. 27


Jean-Christophe Groffe – singer and choir director

Thomas Christ (TC): How did you come to play the guitar and how does one gradually develop into a baroque singer while studying musicology?

Jean-Christophe Groffe (JCG): This is due to some coincidences…. When I was a kid, we lived in the country, and there was a guitar teacher nearby. This instrument accompanied me from my youth until I studied musicology.

During my education I also studied choral conducting. We sang a lot for each other, sort of as a “guinea pig choir.” I soon realized that singing was a central part of my life. I then studied singing in Paris… and later in Basel!

TC: Could you have imagined a career as an opera singer with a preference for early music, or would you rather have become an opera director? You are known for your enthusiasm for scenic work.

JCG: As I said, I discovered singing through polyphony. An opera career has never appealed to me, an incredibly hard job and in my opinion also thankless… I admire some singers very much, but I have no desire to take up this profession! I like to mix singing with contextual thinking, to enrich, to think about how to present music, how to make it accessible to the audience. That doesn’t make me a director, but I love the variety of tasks in my practice.

TC: Your pleasure in staged performances certainly also has to do with an interest in crossing borders, not just from the musical to the visual arts, but also from the past to the present. Can you tell us something about that bridge-building from early to contemporary music?

JCG: Here one would have to define what “early music” really means. I actually call any repertoire that I do not create myself “early music”. As a performer, I work very frequently with composers and have had the pleasure of premiering countless works over the past twenty years. But when I work with an existing repertoire, I try to ask myself the same questions over and over again. Whether it’s Josquin or Stockhausen, I try to understand the music with a new, contemporary perspective, asking myself about the practices and contexts. The combination of Renaissance repertoire and 20th century music therefore seems quite natural to me.

TC: In the early music scene, it is noticeable that baroque music has enjoyed great popularity for several decades. In comparison, the rich treasure of Renaissance works leads almost a shadowy existence. How do you explain this difference, this imbalance?

JCG: You just have to dig a little deeper to discover the Renaissance repertoire! And that musical treasure is accessible to anyone who is not afraid of the research effort. The baroque repertoire has become popular especially on the opera stage. Baroque opera may not be a mainstream event, but it has undoubtedly led to the presence of 17th century repertoire in the media. Renaissance repertoire is often more intimate, which makes it more difficult to reach a very large audience. But maybe things are changing!

TC: On the occasion of our October concert, which is preceded by a choir seminar, we are particularly interested in your credo as a choir director, all the more so since amateur singers are also to learn and sing at this concert. As a choir director, can you tell us about your experience of amateur choir singing?

JCG: The important thing is to rehearse the works – whether vocal, instrumental, or both – in a way that makes making music fun again! This is the credo and the idea that guides me and that also corresponds to the musical practice of the Renaissance! Professional musicians aside, I am always delighted and amazed to see the joy people have in singing. Sing! The world can only get better as a result!



I’m with you … ” by Martin Kirnbauer to “Chantez gayement“, Oct 2021

A few years ago, while reviewing a new edition of Jerome’s translation of the Bible, I came across the beautiful headline in the NZZ: “Until Luther came, God spoke Latin.” One could take up the idea and continue that ‘after Luther’ he sang not only in German, but also in French and many other languages, as the ReRenaissance concert on October 31 will show and make it possible to experience.

In fact, the change of language was associated with one of the most far-reaching and radical changes in music brought about by the Reformation. In Basel, for example, the starting point is considered to be the congregational singing of the Psalms, which was first practiced in worship on Easter Sunday 1526. This not only changed the role of the clergy, who lost their exclusive position (and with them the organists, who literally became unemployed). The service now centered on the sermon, which was framed by songs and psalms sung by the congregation – a ‘participatory model’ we would call it today.
For this purpose, a new repertoire was needed, which was partly newly created, partly adapted to the new purpose by rewording and reinterpreting well-known songs. In Basel, the first settings came from Strasbourg, and later were those of the so-called Geneva Psalter, which was sung for centuries and across all continents.
The ReRenaissance concert on October 31, 2021 offers visitors the unique opportunity to sing along with the Psalms in a ‘re-enactment’, as it were. (But don’t worry, there will be a rehearsal beforehand …)



Program Booklet October 2021

Psalm 81 – Chantez gayement

1st Psalm 81 – Samuel Mareschal (1554-1640)
Basel, University Library, Ms. F IX 49
(“Handwriting of Samuel Mareschal”)

2nd Psalm 81 – Théodore de Bèze (1519-1605)
Les Pseaumes mis en rime francoise, by Jean de Laon/Antoine Vincent, Geneva 1562

3. psalm 81 – Samuel Mareschal
Les Pseaumes mis en rime francoise, by Jean de Laon/Antoine
Der gantz Psalter, by Ludwig Koenigs, Basel 1606, 2nd ed.


Psalm 130 – Du fonds de ma pensée

4th Psalm 130 – Samuel Mareschal
“Handwriting of Samuel Mareschal”

Psalm 130 – Clément Marot (1496-1544)
Les Pseaumes mis en rime francoise

6. psalm 130 – Samuel Mareschal
The whole Psalter

7th fuga in d – Samuel Mareschal
“Manuscript Mareschal Ms. F IX 47/48 UB Basel”

8th Psalm 130 – Roland de Lassus (1532-1594)
Cent cinquante pseaumes de David, by Barthelemi Vincent, Lyon 1583


Psalm 1 – Qui au conseil

9. psalm 1 – Samuel Mareschal
“Handwriting of Samuel Mareschal”

10th Psalm 1 – Clément Marot
Les Pseaumes mis en rime francoise1

11. psalm 1 – Johannes Buxtorf (1564-1629)
Basel, University Library, A XII 16
(“Hineh lecha sheloshah mizmorim”)

12th Psalm 1 – Paschal de l’Estocart (1537/38-1587)
Cent cinquante pseaumes de David

13th Psalm 1 – Claude Le Jeune (1525/30-1600)
Premier livre, contenant cinquante pseaumes, by Pierre Ballard, Paris 1602

14. intonation Dorius – Samuel Mareschal
“Manuscript Mareschal Ms. F IX 47/48 UB Basel”

15th Psalm 1 – Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621)
Cinquante Pseaumes de David, Amsterdam 1604


Psaume 33 – Resveillez vous chascun fidele

16. psalm 33 – Samuel Mareschal
“Handwriting of Samuel Mareschal”

17 Psalm 33 – Clément Marot
Les Pseaumes mis en rime francoise

18. psalm 33 – Samuel Mareschal
The whole Psalter

19. psalm 33 – Claude Goudimel (1505-1572)
Les pseaumes mis en rime, by Francois Jaquy’s heirs, Geneva 1565


Psalm 9 – De tout mon cœur t’exalteray

20. psalm 9 – Samuel Mareschal
“Handwriting of Samuel Mareschal”

21 Psalm 9 – Clément Marot
Les Pseaumes mis en rime francoise

22. psalm 9 – Samuel Mareschal
The whole Psalter

23. fuga in d – Samuel Mareschal
“Manuscript Mareschal Ms. F IX 47/48 UB Basel”

24.psalm 9 – Claude Le Jeune
Premier livre, contenant cinquante pseaumes

25th Psalm 9 – Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Cinquante Pseaumes de David


Psalm 1 – Qui au conseil

26.Psalm 24 – Samuel Mareschal
“Handwriting of Samuel Mareschal”

27 Psalm 24 – Clément Marot
Les Pseaumes mis en rime francoise

28. psalm 24 – Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Cinquante Pseaumes de David



The Bassanos

Homage to the recorder family
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Historical Museum Basel


Magnum opus musicum 1604

Tribute to Orlando di Lasso
Sun 27.10.24 18:15 Concert



Du Fay 550

Music for a lifetime
Sun 24.11.24 18:15 Concert

Historisches Museum Basel


Now sing and rejoice

Sing-along Concert
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