Insula orchestra

Founded in 2012, Insula orchestra has risen to prominence through acclaimed appearances with Music Director Laurence Equilbey at major venues and festivals as well as through hailed CD releases and television appearances. 

In spring 2017, the orchestra inaugurated the new Seine Musicale de l'Ile Seguin, an island in the River Seine in Paris. Laurence Equilbey and the Insula orchestra will be responsible for programing a classical music series of about 30 concerts per season at the Auditorium of La Seine Musicale, featuring concerts of both the Insula orchestra and international guest ensembles.

In 2017/2018, Insula will tour in Europe with ambitious programmes, including Haydn’s Creation staged by the Fura dels Baus and will appear at the Teater an der Wien, the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Barbican Centre and at the Opéra Comique.

Laurence Equilbey conducts Insula orchestra in a staged production of Haydn’s Creation

11 May 2017

Insula orchestra, conducted by Laurence Equilbey, performs a staged production of Haydn’s Creation at La Seine Musicale in Paris. Almost 100 artists will take part in a digital...

Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra open La Seine Musicale in Paris

22 Apr 2017

Laurence Equilbey conducts Insula orchestra for the inaugural concert of La Seine Musicale in Paris, with a programme of works by Mozart, Beethoven, Weber and Berlioz. The opening of this vast and...

Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra’s new home featured in The Times

23 Jan 2017

The Times recently published a full-page article on La Seine Musicale, the new concert venue to the West of Paris, which will be the Insula orchestra’s new home from April 2017. Laurence Equilbey...

Insula orchestra and Viktoria Mullova in Santander

10 Oct 2016

After two successful concerts in Sceaux, France, Insula orchestra, Laurence Equilbey and Viktoria Mulova performing on 10 October in Santander, Spain at the Palacio de Festivales de Cantabria in a...

Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra concert recorded for Warner and live streamed on Arte

16 Sep 2016

After a short summer break, Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra are touring again with their ‘Solemn Mozart’ programme, which features Solemn Vespers KV 339 and the ...

Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra return to Austria for Mozart’s Lucio Silla

27 Apr 2016

As part of their international touring this season, which included London’s Barbican in September and Basel in March, Laurence Equilbey and

Insula orchestra return to Austria for Mozart’s...

Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra on tour with Beethoven

08 Mar 2016

Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra continue their Heroic Beethoven tour, which began on 5 March at the Grand Théâtre in Aix-en-Provence, with a sold out concert on 8 March at the...

Four star Financial Times review for Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra’s UK debut

23 Sep 2015

Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra made their UK debut on 21 September with an acclaimed performance of early works at London’s Barbican Centre.

Hannah Nepil of the Financial Times...

Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra’s release new CD

17 Sep 2015

On 18 September, Laurence Equilbey and Insula orchestra’s new CD will be released on the Archiv / Deutsche Gramophon label. This recording is a 3 CD set, featuring the full recording of the...

Insula orchestra make their UK debut at the Barbican Centre, with new release on Deutsche Grammophon

04 Sep 2015

ICA is delighted to present Insula – one of Europe’s most energetic new period instrument orchestras – in their UK debut at the Barbican Centre on 21 September 2015.  Just three years after...

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“The acoustics of the Seine Musicale are simply excellent [...] Insula orchestra played with great vitality throughout. Rarely has Mozart been performed more accurately than by Laurence Equilbey and her splendid musicians.  ”

Peter Krause, concerti.de - Apr 2017

“This was exactly the inaugural kick the opening needed, and I doubt if anyone in the hall didn’t rejoice at the encore of this early (1808) Ode to Joy.  ”

David Nice, The Arts Desk - May 2017

“[About Gluck's Orfeo Ed Euridice CD] Equilbey and the Insula Orchestra are painstaking in their re-creation of Gluck's original sound world: period strings and brass underscore the harshness of Orfeo's isolation where the warmer sound of conventional instruments tends to console. Speeds are brisk, but in veering away from Muri-like solemnity.  ”

Tim Ashley - Gramophone, October 2015 - Jan 2017

“[About Gluck's Orfeo Ed Euridice CD] . The insula orchestra and the superlative accentus chorus under Laurence Equilbey deliver a knock-out performance.”

Jens F. Laurson - Forbes, July 2016 - Jan 2017

“[About Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice CD] This is a big spotlight for the relatively little-known Insula orchestra and accentus choir who are led by Laurence Equilbey with verve and delicacy [...] Equilbey, Insula and accentus make their UK debut at the Barbican on September 21. My appetite is duly whetted. ”

The Times - Neil Fisher - Jan 2017

“[About Mozart's Requiem CD] If the sheer number of recorded versions of Mozart's Requiem may have made the lay ear blase, Laurence Equilbey's version is fascinating and fresh from start to finish.[...]   [Equilbey}, who has completely interiorised the intensity of the work's subject matter; offers us a scalpel-sharp interpretation, full of energy with a strong rhythmic pulse. Limpid with perfectly detailed architecture, amplified by the very strong cohesion between soloists, orchestra and choir. DMP, La Marseillaise ”

DMP, La Marseillaise - Jan 2017

“[About Lucio Silla] The real heroes of the evening were Laurence Equilbey and her Insula orchestra, who produced lithe, strongly muscled playing that never stepped outside stylistic bounds, while at the same time paying due homage to the Italianate lyricism so deeply imbibed by the young Mozart.”

Brian Robins - Opera magazine - Aug 2016

“[About Lucio Silla] A scintillating if not swiftly paced two-and-a-half-hours ensues. Equilbey brings a choral trainer's zeal for accents on the button to her period-instrument orchestra and restlessly inventive harpsichord continuo. ”

Peter Quantrill - Gramophone - Aug 2016

“[About Lucio Silla at the Theater an der Wien] Insula orchestra played Mozart’s intricate score with élan and sensitivity. The many sforzando and fp markings were meticulously observed and there was admirable attention to orchestral detail. Period brass were excitingly raspy and the strings had a bright sonority which the excellent acoustics of the house displayed to the utmost. [...] ******************* Full review here: https://bachtrack.com/fr_FR/review-lucio-silla-equilbey-theater-an-der-wien-april-2016”

Jonathan Sutherland - Bachtrack - May 2016

“[About Lucio Silla at the Theater an der Wien] The Insula Orchestra under Laurence Equilbey also makes a stand. From the first bars, the brass grabs you, as do modeled accents in the higher strings. [...]”

The Writing is on the Wall: “Lucio Silla” at Theater an der Wien by Anik LaChev - Apr 2016

“There was an air of novelty with the female conductor Laurence Equilbey and the Insula Orchestra from Paris, who - instead of speeding metronomically - presented a Beethoven with infinite colouring [...] The moderate pace and a accented precision were especially impressive with a united phrasing, which is so unusual in our linear world.”

Verena Naegele - Basler Zeitung - Mar 2016

“[About the "Orfeo ed Euridice" CD] Unquestionably one of the top version of this infinitely moving work.”

Brian Robins - Early Music Today - Nov 2015

“[About the "Orfeo ed Euridice" CD] The performances, recorded live at the Theatre de Poissy earlier this year, have bags of energy and crackle with immediacy, Equilbey and her French period-instrument Insula Orchestra displaying instinctive flair for 18th-century style. There’s a strong portrayal of the hero from rising-star countertenor Franco Fagioli, his forthright, mellow tone and high-lying timbre well-suited to a role created for a castrato. (4* review)”

Graham Roger - Sinfini - Sep 2015

“[About the "Magnificat" concert serie] The orchestra, under Equilbey’s supervision, never seemed in any danger of running out of puff.”

Hanna Nepil - Financial Times - Sep 2015

“[About the "Magnificat" concert series] Insula Orchestra and accentus are sophisticated music makers. The voices blended softly with the timbre of the strings. (…) the programme and the performances were beautifully poised and were marked by elegant commitment. More please. Especially if it’s Zelenka!”

Anna Magdalena’s Notebook - Sep 2015

“[About Orfeo ed Euridice CD] A new benchmark. [...] These great soloists are supported by a perfect ensemble, the Insula orchestra: very accurate in their attack yet not harsh, and with a beautiful sound.[...] The direction of Laurence Equilbey is absolutely remarkable, both contrasting and balanced. [...] Gluck is very lucky to get to be performed in such a way!”

Jean-Michel Pennetier - Forumopéra.com - Nov 2015

“The contrast between Mozart’s bold, framing choral paragraphs and filigree solo work was true to an impeccable sense of style.”

The Arts Desk (4 star review of UK debut concert at the Barbican) - Sep 2015

“[...]of rare beauty and perfection. [...] A tremendous performance, hailed as a triumph by a hugely enthusiastic audience, who were totally overwhelmed by the exceptional moment of rare intensity that they had just experienced.”

Michel Egea- Destimed - Apr 2015

“The Music Director of accentus and Insula orchestra presented one of the most beautiful versions imaginable of this Gluck opera [Orfeo Ed Euridice]. [...] Absolute perfection, especially with the great Argentinian countertenor, Franco Fagioli.”

Jean-Remi Barland- La Provence - Apr 2015

“[About The Desert recording] [...]gold-standard version[...] Laurence Equilbey gives the score its full value by infusing it with life and passion.”

Jose Pons- Opera Magazine - Mar 2015

“The even more subtle and refined orchestra, the expertise of accentus and the excellent choice of both editions and soloists make you want to share this performance widely!”

Berenice Clerc- Tout le Culture - Apr 2015

“An orchestral sound like no other – sumptuous strings, pleasant winds, juicy brass, unique percussion – all serving to support a powerful and majestic choir and soloists.  A great discovery ”

Michel Egéa - DestiMed - Oct 2014

“The young musicians of the Insula orchestra (…) give it passion, the excellent choir accentus delicacy, the chief conductor Laurence Equilbey provides benevolent energy – and not to mention the exceptional soloists, such as Sandrine Piau”

Séverine Garnier - TGV Magazine - Oct 2014

“[About the « Battle & Victory » concert series at Cité de la musique, October 2014]  The precise and chiseled direction from Laurence Equilbey gives relief to every note in the score, leading the ensemble with grace and gravity”

Bérénice Clerc - Toute la Culture - Oct 2014

“[About Mozart's Requiem CD released in September 2014] A CD to listen to without moderation, with the possible risk of addiction or even dependence !”

Bérénice Clerc - Toute la Culture - Sep 2014

“A new and magnificent version of Mozart’s Requiem”

Renaud Machart - Le Monde - Sep 2014

“When the final note died away, the rapt audience responded with a prolonged ovation, as the musicians left an indelible mark on the auditorium”

Florence Michel - ResMusica - Feb 2014

“From the very first notes, the orchestra is precise, sharp, sparkling, with controlled dynamics and its own interpretation, rare for such a young formation.”

Orfeo ed Euridice - Nov 2013

“An outstanding range of nuance, seamless change of register, perfect diction, flawless technique, unfettered phrasing, and a powerful stage presence... At the head of Insula orchestra, Laurence Equilbey cultivates the same sobriety, the same intelligent insight into the text.”

Lalettredumusicien.fr - Nov 2013

“Particularly admirable is Act II and the hard darkness of the banks of the Cocytus, as well as the two ballets that both provide Insula with opportunities to deploy its orchestral colours, notably handsome brass and enchanting flute.”

Musebaroque.fr - Nov 2013

“This is a finely crafted maiden work. The strings, led by Stéphanie Paulet, are already honed, the woodwinds, under the aegis of oboist Marcel Ponseele, warm to the friendly acoustics of Versailles’ Chapelle Royale. Meanwhile, Laurence Equilbey leads both families with a thoroughness that is clearly, at the same time, unfettered... Long live Insula!”

Diapason - Jan 2013

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Founded in 2012 by Laurence Equilbey, Insula orchestra’s artistic project is built around a repertoire ranging from the Classical to the Romantic eras. The orchestra performs on period instruments, tailoring its sound to large auditoriums. Insula orchestra pays particular attention to vocal soloists, with artists such as Sandrine Piau, Werner Gura, Franco Fagioli or Ann Hallenberg. The orchestra also perfoms with prestigious soloists on period instruments such as Viktoria Mullova (violinist), Abdel Rahman El Bacha, Nicholas Angelich and Alice Sara-Ott (pianists).

Insula orchestra has also developed a comprehensive, innovative programme of cultural and educational initiatives across its home base in the Hauts-de-Seine department, notably to foster awareness among potential audiences who have never had the opportunity to approach classical music, as well as participatory classes for young people and schools.

In spring 2017, the orchestra will be inaugurating a new music venue, La Seine Musicale, designed by architects Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines on Ile Seguin, an island in the River Seine just a few miles downstream from Paris. Laurence Equilbey and the Insula orchestra will be responsible for programing a classical music series of about 30 concerts per season at the Auditorium of La Seine Musicale, featuring concerts of both the Insula orchestra and international guest ensembles. 

In parallele with their residency at La Seine Musicale, Laurence Equilbey and the Insula orchestra carries on with their ambitious touring activities, performing at major French and international venues, such as the Barbican Centre in London and the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, as well as in leading festivals all around the globe. 

In 2017/2018, Insula will tour in Europe with no less than six original programmes, including bold stage production of Haydn’s Creation with the Catalan collective Fura dels Baus and a new staged production of Beethoven's Egmond. The season will also include performances in prestigeous venues such as at the Teater an der Wien in Vienna, the Warsaw Philharmonic, the Barbican Centre in London, as well as 8 performaces of Gounod's opera La Nonne Sanglante given at the Opera Comique for the 200th anniversary of the composer.

Insula orchestra is also a successful recording orchestra. After two best-selling recordings — Mozart’s Requiem with Sandrine Piau (naïve, 2014) and Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice with Franco Fagioli (Deutsche Grammophon, 2015), they will release 3 new albums in 2017, the first called “Mozart Solennel” (Warner), featuring Sandrine Piau and accentus, and the second being a recording of orchestral arrangements of Schubert Lieder with singers Stanislas de Barbeyrac and Marianne Crebassa (Warner). 


Insula orchestra receives support from Conseil departemental des Hauts-de-Seine and is in residence at La Seine Musicale. Eric Lombard has acquired the chair of the first violin for two seasons with the Chair Sponsorship. Materne supports the cultural and educational actions of Insula orchestra. accio, the accentus and Insula orchestra circle of friends, and Funding Partners develop involvement of individuals and companies. Two Funding Partners joined the adventure : W and Meludia. Insula orchestra is part of the FEVIS and the SPPF. 

June 2017