Paul Van Nevel
Paul Van Nevel is a Belgian conductor, musicologist and art historian. In 1971 he founded the Huelgas Ensemble, a choir dedicated to polyphony from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, which in the meanwhile is one of the best reknown worldwide for this repertoire. Van Nevel is known for hunting out little known polyphonic works to perform, especially from the franco-flemic polyphony.
He grew up in a musical family. From the age of 11 to 18 he used to sing four hours a day. His father played violin and encouraged his son to play every instrument in the house. But while his father loved Wagner, his son Paul favoured Béla Bartók and the very early epoches.
From 1969 to 1971 he studied early music at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland. There he founded the Huelgas Ensemble, taking the name from the famous Codex Las Huelgas at the Cistercian monastery near Burgos which Van Nevel had the chance to visit in this years. He was allowed to spend two weeks studying the manuscript with the aid of a recommendation letter from the Belgian authorities.
Van Nevel taught at the Conservatory of Amsterdam and regularely is invited as guest conductor of several vocal ensembles, like the Collegium Vocale Gent, the Netherlands Chamber Choir and the choir of the Netherlands Bach Society. In 1994 he was awarded the Prix Paris in honorem of the Academy Charles Cros.
Also his recordings with the Huelgas Ensemble received numerous awards including several Diapasons d'Or as well as the MIDEM Cannes Classical Award for best choral music and the Echo Klassik award in Germany.
Van Nevel is well known for his deep (theoretical and practical) fondness for cigars, this interest finding musical outlet in the programme and CD The Art of the Cigar.