My very natural movement towards the greatest symphonies and operas and other more… “ethnically diverse” forms is neither a change in tastes nor a radical change of course but the logical product of a long course of development.
A course of development that finally leads to the pressing desire for synthesis, a project toyed with for a long time following the “prismatic” paths of this decade, paths imposed upon me in fact by broadcasting systems and the pitfall of classification, as well as institutional frameworks. Indeed, conducting a contemporary music ensemble while leading an invited conductor’s career, organising festivals, instilling ideas and setting up and conducting a new-generation symphony orchestra are simply the different pieces of the same puzzle, the tools used to fulfil a single, obsessional desire: “being like music”, living in shared contact with works on a daily basis, in physical contact with the orchestra. Is that such a great ambition?
To do so, one must, if necessary and beyond cumbersomeness, (habits in particular, outdated tools and commonplace behaviour) imagine and create the tools of our dreams, more suitable for the period we live in and in line with others’ dreams, well beyond the most simplistic classifications.
I am currently thinking about and conceiving a great symphony orchestra that is flexible and versatile as far as repertoires are concerned, inventive in its forms of representation, horizontal in its broadcasting means and rigorous in its approach to music that functions in the spirit of chamber music. Let’s dare! Since “It is a vital duty for us (it is from Tapis (a painter with whom I am utterly in tune) that I am once again going to borrow these few words to conclude this portrait) to turn our backs on many aspects of today’s world, deny them and refuse to accept them under whatever prestigious or sacred halo they are presented to us. Our destiny is at stake: either propagate ignorance and misleading myths or search for knowledge and happiness. This alternative deserves us devoting our entire lives to it, it is worth the adventure and risk of being taken for an enlightened person (…)”.
Having pursued an artistic ideal by conducting for a decade now, one thing appears to me to be true today: the only thing that counts, beyond the conductor’s technique, role, duties or social incarnation is his “being like music”, which makes him a genuine sound craftsman, a producer, a medium for passing on the message, a carrier of dreams and ideals. This is a simple statement of fact but is often contradicted and overshadowed by pomp and ceremony, duties, tricks, convention and appearance, fantasies related to the image of the omnipotent conductor. The musician in his relationship with his instrument and the conductor with his orchestra has this two-way “tactile”, ineffable presence with the material, a material that is rough, worked and poetised. It is this very immediate, physical relationship with sound, this sensorial, sensitive and physical commitment to the organic, organised material of music that I am interested in pursuing and developing.
Beyond the work’s poetic and philosophical message… commuted to a decodable, transmissible musical language, music represents a rough art above all for me, first degree art that “integrates” us into and links us to the “vibrant structure of the universe”. This is one of the reasons why performing today’s music has been such a major part of my musical career path. Contrary to generally accepted ideas, so-called “contemporary” music is anything but rhetorical entertainment: an incredible, priceless meeting point for thoughts, a stratification of highly structured creations and conceptual simple or complex imaginations, in the image of our world. On account of this even more vivid “first degree dimension”, a more direct relationship with sound, there is no need for prior knowledge to perceive, feel and receive “the impact of the work”. Tapiès wrote: “It is not essential, when we look at a painting, listen to music or read a poem to analyse the work. It is already significant that the viewer accepts the work’s impact and the chords it strikes in their mind, however confused.
Art has an effect on all of our sensitivity, not just our intellect”.
Art, and music in particular, is definitely a source of knowledge, an aid to meditation, inexpressible, certainly, but highly incarnate too, a place of sharing with great spiritual value. It is this central idea of making an “absolute gift of yourself” (exchanging energy, poetic transfer, as faithful as possible a reproduction of the work’s spirit and immediate communication with the listener) that constitutes for me the very essence of being a conductor.