Pianist, founder, and musical director of the Voice Messengers, Thierry Lalo's inspiration comes as much from 50s and 60s “mainstream” jazz as from Western vocal polyphony from the 16th to the 20th century, repertoire he himself has sung extensively. His arrangements and compositions are a defining characteristic of the Voice Messengers’ sound, and the ensemble has emerged as clear inheritor of the Double-Six tradition since the release of their first album in 1997. The group continues to receive praise, and in 2008 was awarded the Académie du Jazz’ prestigious Prix du Jazz Vocal. In addition to his work with the Voice Messengers, Thierry Lalo is also the author of five jazz operas, oeuvres that won him the SACD’s Prix Nouveau Talent Musique in 2002 and the Prix Maurice Yvain in 2011. A deeply invested educator, he regularly directs workshops for choirs and master classes in choral direction and composition, in France and abroad.
After studying classically, Thierry Lalo’s creative development and inspiration has come as much from 50s and 60s “mainstream” jazz (Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Horace Silver, Ellington, Count Basie, Sammy Nestico, Quincy Jones…) as from Western vocal polyphony ranging from Renaissance to contemporary music, repertoire he himself has sung extensively. The juxtaposition of these two styles has led quickly and naturally to the writing of vocal jazz music.
In 2002, he was the first jazz musician to receive the Prix Nouveau Talent Musique from the SACD (French performing-rights Society for Dramatic Composers and Authors) for Ramdam!, his jazz opera. “A stunning success due to the CREA’s excellent choir and the dynamism of its conductor, Didier Grojsman, but also and above all the compositional talent and apparent dramatic sensibility of Thierry Lalo.” (Louis Dunoyer) In 2011, the SACD awarded him the Prix Maurice Yvain for the ensemble of his work as composer and arranger.
Uncontested vocal jazz specialist on the European scene, since Ramdam!, Thierry Lalo has composed music for four other jazz operas: Trois contes pour deux bâtons et une corde (Three Tales for Two Batons and One String commissioned by the Cité de la Musique for the Maîtrise de Radio France 2004), Le Joueur de flûte (The Flute Player of Hamelin commissioned by the city of Ermont 2005), Boulevard du Swing (commissioned by the CREA 2009), and finally Pinocchio (commissioned by the Cité de la Musique for Maîtrise Radio France 2012). His operas have been performed in Aulnay-sous-Bois, at the Vichy Opera, the Théâtre de St Quentin en Yvelines, at the Grand Théâtre of Aix-en-Provence, and at the Bastille Opera in Paris, among others.
Thierry is also Musical Director for the Voice Messengers, and has penned most of their arrangements since the group’s creation in 1995. Composed of 8 professional singers and a rhythm section, this Paris-based ensemble is considered today to be one of the highest caliber vocal jazz formations in Europe. Seen in France as inheritors of the Double Six tradition since the release of their first album (Un Peu de Ménage 1998), the Voice Messengers were awarded the Prix du Jazz Vocal by the Academie de Jazz for their second (Lumières d’Automne 2007). They can be seen regularly on the stages of vocal festivals and jazz festivals across Europe, and Thierry Lalo’s arrangements and original compositions have been solicited by vocal groups in France, Holland, Denmark, and Germany.
Thierry is also a devoted pedagogue, recognized for the direction of choirs and vocal ensembles of all levels, from beginners to professionals. Since 1992, he has regularly directed workshops for choirs, seminars for young composers, and master classes in France, Germany, Holland, Italy, and Denmark. He has directed and conceived of diverse projects for ensembles, festivals, and vocal organisms such as Europe Cantat. He has also participated on multiple occasions as jury member for international vocal ensemble competitions.
Between 2004 and 2008, he directed the Big-Band des Universités de Paris (Crazy Big Band). Composed of young musicians from universities or conservatories, this ensemble performed regularly in Paris and on other French and international stages (such as the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland). Finally, a former student of the HEC, Thierry Lalo is the author of a book on pianist John Lewis (Limon editions / Parenthèses, 1991), and he occasionally teaches the history of jazz for the FNAC or the CNFPT.
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