La Seine Musicale, a new concert hall located in Boulogne-Billancourt, west of Paris, will be inaugurated from the 18th to the 21st of April. Designed by Japanese architect Shrigeru Ban and Frenchman Jean de Gastines, this 170 million euro auditorium has a concert hall dedicated to classical music that can accommodate 1,150 people, as well as a large concert hall space called the “Grande Seine”, which is modular and can accommodate up to 6,000 people for shows of all kinds. For the event, none other than Bob Dylan will be present for a concert on April 21.
The city of Berlin inaugurated the Salle Pierre Boulez. It was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, who was known for the creation of the Tančící dum (Dancing house) in Prague. Designed to accommodate small ensembles, the Salle Pierre Boulez will be able to hold 682 people and will therefore be ideal for chamber music. Thanks to its architectural configuration in the form of an ellipse, all spectators are placed within 14 meters of the orchestra. For its inauguration on March 4, the Boulez group, under the direction of Daniel Barenboïm, presented a concert featuring the music of Mozart, Schubert, Berg, Jörg Widmann and Boulez.
Awards and nominations
Vancouver soprano Kirsten MacKinnon is one of the six winners of the 2017 Met Opera Auditions, the most prestigious young singers contest in the United States. Winner of the 2016 George London Prize, Kirsten MacKinnon sings regularly with the Curtis Opera Theater and more recently with the Philadelphia Opera.
Canadian Scott Thomson, was named artistic director of the Guelph Jazz Festival. He is an accomplished trombonist, who was one of the founders of the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto and director and founder of Somewhere There, two organizations dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of improvised music.
In the wake of announcements surrounding the 2017 federal budget, the Liberal government announced a $1.8 billion investment for the Canada Arts Presentation Fund. This amount will be largely paid to the provinces and territories under bilateral agreements, to be reinvested in infrastructure related to arts and culture. That’s $300 million per year over 10 years. In the previous budget, such investments included the expansion of the Ottawa Art Gallery and the development of the Arts Court building in Ottawa.
This investment-oriented vision contrasts with that of our American neighbours. The White House recently announced radical cuts in the field of culture in its budget. The US measures especially target subsidies for learning and supporting culture in disadvantaged areas.
The Canadian budget also includes a promise of substantial investments in the Young Canada Works program, which is expected to generate 1,600 new summer and student jobs in the arts by 2019. And close to $400 million has been budgeted for the Youth Employment Strategy program, which will be beneficial in the coming years for youth developing their careers in the arts.
Music and politics
A cooperative project of 50 affordable housing units dedicated to artists will soon be undertaken in Gatineau. The initiative was supported financially by the city council, which hopes, through such a project, to revitalize the city center with the arrival of a strong concentration of artists.
The well-known European Union Baroque Orchestra announced, in a letter published on February 13, its intention to move permanently from the United Kingdom to the city of Antwerp, Belgium. This decision is taken in reaction to the recent political events, notably Brexit. The orchestra fears the negative effects of the separation of the United Kingdom from the European Union, which would complicate in particular the displacements in the European territory and jeopardize the subsidies of Europe that are granted. It also confesses that it is increasingly difficult to raise funds for its activities during the collections it undertakes. The orchestra will offer a final concert in the UK in May.
A new collective for political representation of artists was created at the beginning of the year. The purpose of the Regroupement des artisans de la musique (RAM) is to educate elected officials of the various levels of government on the issues surrounding the sharing of financial royalties related to listening to music online and also wants to take part in the discussions. At present, profits go almost exclusively to Internet distributors and foreign companies. The collective says it is not against the new realities of the market that the digital transition of the listening habits bears with it, but it affirms the necessity to frame the market so that the artists are better remunerated for their work. For example, royalties to the artist are valued at $ 0.0011 per listen via the Spotify platform. The legislative framework and the revenue sharing model should therefore be reassessed to ensure a more equitable distribution of profits. The group is supported by the Guild of Musicians of Quebec (Guilde des musiciens et musiciennes du Québec), the Professional Society of Composers and Authors of Quebec (la Société professionnelle des auteurs et des compositeurs du Québec) and the Union of artistes (l’Union des artistes).
The Swedish tenor Nicolas Gedda, one of the greatest figures of contemporary opera, died on January 8 in Lausanne, Switzerland, at the age of 91 years. Gedda has performed in many places with the greatest chefs, including the Scala and the Met. He has also recorded more than 200 discs, playing nearly 70 roles.
The famous singer and composer of jazz, soul and funk Al Jarreau died on February 12, at the age of 76 years. His music was particularly marked by skat singing, in the be-bop style. In the fifty years of his career, he has received seven Grammys. The son of a pastor, he made his debut with the choir of his local church in the United States.
The Chinese conductor Huang Feili died at the age of 99 years. The famous violinist-pedagogue made his debut in the United States, after a passage at Yale, under the direction of Paul Hindemith. After a visit to Switzerland, he returned to China in 1951 during the communist period of Mao to build an orchestra. This one will to be among the best of China.
The musicologist Henry-Louis de La Grange, whose works are considered the greatest references on the work and life of Gustav Mahler, died at 92 in January in Lonay, in the canton of Vaud, Switzerland. In total, he published more than 3600 pages on Mahler’s music, including an extensive biography of the composer published by Fayard. Born in Paris in 1924, Henry-Louis de La Grange is considered one of the essential figures of post-war intellectual circles. He was also a founder of the Musical Media Library Mahler in Paris, devoted to the dissemination of documentation and archives related to classical music.
Translation: Davide V