Continuing a Legacy of Early Music

Jouyssance Early Music Ensemble is a Los Angeles-based vocal ensemble dedicated to revitalizing music of the Medieval, Renaissance and early Baroque periods. Under the artistic direction of Dr. Nicole Baker, Jouyssance is recognized as one of the premiere vocal ensembles in Southern California, and is the only regularly performing vocal group in Los Angeles exclusively dedicated to exploring music before 1650. Jouyssance has released three CDs, “Jouyssance Early Music Ensemble,” “A Tour of Christmases Past," and, most recently, "Cantiga: An Early Music Tour of Iberia."

The Ensemble's origins date to 1961. In that year the pioneering early music ensemble New York Pro Musica had its West Coast premiere at USC’s Bovard Auditorium and inspired Michael Agnello to form the first Los Angeles-based group dedicated to singing early music, the Neo-Renaissance Singers. In 1967, five of its members, including longtime patron and Board President John Leicester, incorporated the Foundation of the Neo-Renaissance (“FNR”) as a non-profit organization.

The FNR made a multi-faceted pledge to support the Neo-Renaissance singers, encourage early music scholarship, transcribe original scores into modern performing editions and create a library of scores, anthologies, and theoretical and historical documents relating to the music of this period.

The Foundation took a pivotal step toward advancing those goals in the 1990s. Jim Stehn, principal trumpet and cornetto player of the Los Angeles Baroque Orchestra, had grown frustrated with the lack of opportunities to perform Renaissance music in Southern California. In 1990 he organized a new group of singers and instrumentalists, calling it Jouyssance Early Music Ensemble after the famous chanson “Joyssance vous donneray.” Two years later, Stehn and Leicester merged the Neo-Renaissance Singers and Jouyssance under the FNR.

Today, Jouyssance performs an annual series of three concert programs in West LA and Pasadena, and have regularly been featured as performers at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Orange County. The group honors the tradition of historically informed performance practice, seeking to re-create the music as it might have sounded at the time it was written. Performances occasionally include historically informed accompaniment on period instruments.

The Ensemble's repertoire includes music from the 9th through the early 17th centuries, often featuring such major figures as Machaut, Dufay, Josquin, Palestrina, Lassus, and Monteverdi. Concerts showcase music not only from every corner of Europe, but also from non-Western traditions from around the globe, such as Canadian First Nations, Mexico and Guatemala, Bolivia and Peru, the Ukraine, Ethiopia, Byzantium, India, China, and the Philippines.

Jouyssance aims to educate audiences in ways that engage and inspire. During concerts, Dr. Baker generally speaks about the repertoire to the audience, often peppering her comments with humorous, informative anecdotes that help bring the music and its composers to life. Program notes for each concert include texts and translations that are also made available on our website.