The forgotten sound of the alta capella - the medieval and renaissance wind band of shawms, slide trumpet and sackbut - is the historical heart of this project.  From the 13th to the 16th centuries this was the standard loud band formation, employed both by nobles and by the newly-powerful cities.  Fanfares, dance music and tafelmusik was the staple fare of this ensemble. Cities and courts throughout Europe rivalled each other for the best representative music and the latest artful polyphony.  Our medieval colleagues laid the foundations for the symphony orchestras and big bands of today.

The members of the international prizewinning ensemble Les haulz et les bas have studied the surviving records of medieval wind players, researched historical musical sources, reconstructed this lost sound and presented this fascinating and beautiful music to great acclaim at leading European festivals. More information at

In the project ars supernova the gothic wind band is combined with a jazz combo of saxophone, guitar, double bass, tuba and drum set, and members of the ensemble themeslves double on saxophone, trombone, cornett and even bagpipes. Old material is newly arranged, new pieces composed for long-forgotten instruments and all is delivered with lashings of improvisatory panache.