The French conductor, Emmanuelle Haïm, has never divulged her birth-date, but music suffused her family background. In her deep ancestry was a family of Breton organmakers, and her Hungarian stepfather passed time as friends with both András Schiff and Zoltán Kocsis. Emmanuelle and her siblings performed chamber music at these high-level gatherings, and she soon decided on a musical career. She began her piano studies with Yvonne Lefébure and continued by studying the organ with André Isoir. In her mid-twenties she switched to harpsichord because she wanted to participate in a performance of J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244) and couldn't think of another way to become involved. She studied the harpsichord with Kenneth Gilbert and Christophe Rousset while also studying musical style and figured bass. A gifted musician, she was awarded five first prizes at the Conservatoire Supérieur de Musique et de Danse in Paris. Her love of the human voice led her to concentrate on vocal coaching, first at the Baroque music centre of the Studio Versailles-Opéra and then at the CNSM in Paris, where she has coached singers in the Baroque repertory. Among the many distinguished singers who have invited her to accompany them in recital are Cecilia Bartoli, Natalie Dessay, Patricia Petibon and Sandrine Piau.
Emmanuelle Haïm very quickly developed a regular activity as continuo player and musical assistant in a number of opera houses, where she was able to acquire a unique knowledge of the Baroque and Classical repertory. Her harpsichord skills were spotted by conductor William Christie, and for a decade Haïm performed with his ensemble, Les Arts Florissants. Though neither Haïm nor William Christie realized it at the time, she was also studying conducting. "Bill is a showman; he has a sense of the life and rhythm of a show," Haïm later explained to the Independent. She also performed Baroque and Classical repertory with big-name conductors such as Simon Rattle, who would later encourage her in her own conducting efforts. She has appeared at the most famous theatres alongside such artists as William Christie, Christophe Rousset, Sir Simon Rattle and Daniel Harding.
This activity naturally led her to conducting, thus realising a long-held dream. Emmanuelle Haïm's conducting debut was as unplanned as her turn toward the harpsichord; a group of instrumentalist friends wanted practice working with singers, and Haïm agreed to helm an impromptu ensemble. She began to find opportunities as a Baroque opera conductor. In 2000 she gathered together a group of singers and instrumentalists who shared not only a great musical experience and a love of the human voice, but also a common temperament and stylistic approach which is both expressive and natural. This marked the founding of her own Baroque music ensemble, Le Concert d'Astrée. That put Haïm and her enthusiasm squarely in the spotlight ("like a ballerina on speed" was the Independent's description of Haïm in rehearsal), and engagements and support began to flow her way. (Le Concert d'Astrée is backed by France Télécom, but not by the French government.). She has directed her ensemble for six years to great acclaim, performing at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, the Barbican Centre in London, Konzerthaus Wien, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam , New York's Lincoln Centre and at numerous Festivals in France and abroad, with internationally celebrated singers such as Ian Bostridge, Susan Graham, Sara Mingardo, Laurent Naouri, and others.
A sensational new figure on the Baroque music scene in the early 2000's, Emmanuelle Haïm electrified audiences with her passionate interpretations of operatic and choral works. She made numerous guest-conducting appearances, but declined chances to move into mainstream repertory. She scored a striking success with George Frideric Handel’s Rodelinda (2001) and Theodora (2003) for Glyndebourne Touring Opera. In 2003 she conducted Monteverdi's Orfeo at the Barbican in London in a series of six sold-out performances featuring star tenor Ian Bostridge. Since then she has appeared at the Festival in Rodelinda (2004), and Giulio Cesare (2006). She was slated to conduct Orfeo in 20 performances across France in the 2005-2006 season, and is due to present L’Incoronazione di Poppea in 2008.
Emmanuelle Haïm regularily appears with such orchestras as the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. Other recent engagements in Germany include concerts with the NDR Orchestra Hanover and a hightly successful Berlin debut with the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester earlier this year. She will be making her debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in spring 2008. Equally in high demand in the USA, she has worked with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and New World Symphony Orchestra and is due to conduct Giulio Cesare for Lyric Opera Chicago in 2007-2008 season.
In 2001 Le Concert d'Astrée and Emmanuelle Haïm signed an exclusive recording contract with Virgin Classics. Their first disc, Arkadian Duos by G.F. Handel, was followed by Aci, Galatea e Polifemo by G.F. Handel (Baroque Vocal Winner Gramophone Awards), Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (Disque de l’année Classica / Choc de l’année Le Monde de la Musique), Monteverdi's l’Orfeo ( Choc du Monde de la Musique’/‘Disque du Mois d’Opéra International’), and more recently Il Combattimento di Tancredi with Rolando Villazón (Diapson d'Dor/Gramophon Editor's Choice). and Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno. Their latest recording, Carestini - The Story of a Castrato featuring countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, was released in November 2007.