The chamber orchestra Les Violons du Roy borrows its name from the renowned string orchestra of the court of the French kings. The group, which has a core membership of fifteen players, was brought together in 1984 by music director Bernard Labadie and specializes in the vast repertoire of music for chamber orchestra, performed in the stylistic manner most appropriate to each era. Although the ensemble plays on modern instruments, its approach to the works of the Baroque and Classical periods has been strongly influenced by current research into performance practice in the 17th and early 18th centuries; in this repertoire Les Violons du Roy uses copies of period bows. The orchestra has been widely acclaimed for the exceptional energy, brilliance and vitality of its performances. In recent seasons, under the leadership of first guest conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni, the orchestra has begun to explore 19th and 20th century repertoire in more depth.
A pillar of the musical scene in Québec City, and well known throughout Canada and United States for its concerts and its recordings broadcast by Radio-Canada, CBC and NPR in the United States, Les Violons du Roy has, since 1988, made over a hundred concert appearances in Germany, England, Austria, Belgium, Ecuador, Spain, France, Morocco, Mexico, Norway, and the Netherlands. On summer 2007, Les Violons du Roy returned to Europe with US mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux for concerts at Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Rheingau Festival in Germany.
Les Violons du Roy’s discography boasts 31 titles, including three Juno Award–winning albums and one Félix Award winner. Twelve recordings have appeared on the Dorian label, and eleven under the ATMA label. The ensemble has also released four albums on Virgin Classics, now Erato/Warner Classics, with soloists Vivica Genaux, Truls Mørk, and Alexandre Tharaud, respectively. It has also made recordings with Marie- Nicole Lemieux (Naïve), Marc-André Hamelin (Hyperion), Valérie Milot (Analekta), and with Diane Dufresne.