Meet Jonathan Cohen, Les Violons du Roy’s new music director

Photo: Shirley Nadeau

Les Violons du Roy concertmaster Pascale Giguère, executive director Hugo Sanschagrin, newly designated music director Jonathan Cohen, and the director of artistic administration Laurent Patenaude announced the program for the 2017-2018 season.

The management and musicians of Les Violons du Roy orchestra announced last October that renowned British conductor Jonathan Cohen had been named to the position of music director. This past Wednesday, many music lovers got the opportunity to see him both conduct and perform in his first official concert.  

The afternoon program consisted of works by Corelli, Telemann, Vivaldi, Biber and Henry Purcell’s instrumental suite from The Fairy Queen. Cohen directed the musicians while seated at the harpsichord or standing at the small organ on stage. 

Known as a brilliant conductor as well as a harpsichordist and cellist, Jonathan Cohen will assume his new role in the 2018-2019 season and continue until 2021. In the interim, he will be very active with the orchestra.

Regarding his appointment, Cohen said, “I am honored and delighted to accept the position of music director of Les Violons du Roy. The orchestra is a remarkable ensemble that I feel close to musically and that I admire for its consistent quality of the highest order. I also love its commitment and its unique spirit of taking pleasure in making music.” 

On February 22, Hugo Sanschagrin, executive director of Les Violons du Roy, Laurent Patenaude, director of artistic administration, and Cohen, the newly designated music director, revealed the 2017-2018 program of the Violons and the Chapelle de Québec.  

With the precious collaboration of Bernard Labadie, Anthony Marwood, Mathieu Lussier, the musicians of the orchestra and well-known invited artists, this season will be marked by the presence of the Violons’ new artistic director who will conduct three concerts; the return of Marie-Nicole Lemieux and Leonardo García Alarcón; and the arrival of conductor Jean-Christophe Spinosi, star pianist Kristian Bezuidenhout and the young trumpetist Lucienne Renaudin Vary. The 2017-2018 program will include a total of 18 programs spread over the Grands Rendez-vous, Baroque avant tout, Rencontres, Plaisirs d’après-midi and Apéro series.

Cohen will take over the reins from Bernard Labadie, founding conductor of Les Violons du Roy, who hailed the appointment of the new music director. “I am very pleased to welcome the appointment of Jonathan Cohen as music director of Les Violons du Roy,” said Labadie. “Jonathan is a young musician of great stature with a bright future ahead of him, and there’s no doubt in my mind he will guide Les Violons du Roy to continued growth and development.

“I am proud to see him take over the helm of the orchestra, and I assure him of my complete cooperation and support... Welcome, Jonathan!” 

Highly esteemed within the international artistic community and known for his passion and commitment to chamber music, Cohen is comfortable with a wide range of material, from baroque opera and the great classical symphonies to the romantic repertoire. Cohen is also artistic director of Arcangelo, associate conductor of Les Arts Florissants, artistic director of the Tetbury Music Festival in England, and artistic partner of the famous Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota. 

Les Violons du Roy concertmaster Pascale Giguère has nothing but praise for Cohen: “As a growing organization, Les Violons du Roy has chosen an exceptional musician as its new music director... We look forward to sharing many meaningful and exciting musical moments thanks to the commitment and dedication of Jonathan Cohen.”  

For complete details of Les Violons du Roy’s 2017-2018 season, visit  

Jonathan Cohen (centre, standing at the small organ) conducted and played with Les Violons du Roy at the Palais Montcalm during his inaugural concert as artistic director.