Depending on whether we consider the glass half empty or half full, the findings vary. The pessimists point out, with supporting statistics, that the classical music audience is becoming rarer, aging and struggling to diversify socially. As proof, only 6% of French people had attended a classical concert in 2019, according to the latest study on their cultural practices (1), compared to 9% in 1997. Even more worrying, the rate dropped to 2% for those aged 15-28 years, “historically” low result…
The optimists retort that, without ignoring this trend, the numerous actions in favor of the dissemination of an art that is certainly codified but provides incomparable emotions is beginning to bear fruit. «If we consider, for example, the Philharmonie de Parisnotes Noël Corbin, general delegate for transmission, territories and cultural democracy at the Ministry of Culture, youth attendance increased by 57% between the 2021-2022 season and the following. At the national level as well as at the local level, anything that facilitates access to a universe deemed distant and complex goes in the right direction. And this at all ages of life. » And to insist on the notion of “cultural health” which, like dietary health, «has a direct impact on our quality of life.
The most beautiful works by the best performers
Many musicians are convinced of this who, not content with encouraging the public to go through the doors of the concert halls, choose to reach out to spectators who are still unaware of it. Pioneers in the field, Les Concerts de Pocket, founded in 2005 by the pianist Gisèle Magnan, have continued to expand their scope, in so-called sensitive neighborhoods or cultural deserts. «There is no secretexplains this convinced activist. We must create trust, step by step, by programming the best performers in the most beautiful works, even those considered “elitist” as the ultimate Piano Sonata by Beethoven or The Transfigured Night the Schoenberg. »
The development of discovery and practice workshops, led by competent mediators, arouses the curiosity of «thosewho, in the cities of the urban suburbs or the small isolated rural villages, have de facto more difficult access to musical life.” Always very accessible (tickets sometimes cost €1), the concerts are however not free, “out of respect for the artists and spectators”, says Gisèle Magnan.
A concert truck…
The approach of the baroque ensemble Masques and its leader, Olivier Fortin, draws on the same ardor to share the spells of music. Like a 21st century Captain Fracasse, he travels the roads of Burgundy aboard L’Échappée, a “concert truck” that can accommodate 40 spectators or, in good weather, transform into an open-air stage. «We have had a magnificent decor made entirely of wood whose acoustics magnify the sounds of the harpsichord, the viola da gamba or the theorbo. The discovery of instruments is also a powerful factor of attraction, the proximity to the musicians exerting a real fascination. »
Born from reflections, during the Covid pandemic, on the profession of musician and its role in society, this device embodies Olivier Fortin’s “mantra”: “Don’t be afraid to get close to people. If we do not take initiatives, the world will change without us. In an environment dominated by screens and the virtual world, live music has a place to play, in schools as well as in retirement homes or, quite simply, in the village square!»
…or a bike tour
No trucks but bicycles for the members of the Correspondences ensemble. Every summer for four years, Sébastien Daucé has taken singers and musicians from stop to stop in the heart of Normandy. “This year, I visited 33 places to choose those that allow the public to have a great experience. It is essential to take care of the moment of the concert, before and after, especially when the listeners are “novices” and the repertoire we are performing is unknown to them. It’s also a pleasure for us, not at all a constraint! » And to evoke a stopover at La Goulafrière, in Eure, where the performance of a sacred piece by Clérambault took on its full meaning after an introduction to monastic life in the 17th and 18th centuries…
If we recall that 21% of Parisians attend a classical concert at least once a year, while only 4% of residents of municipalities with less than 20,000 inhabitants make up the importance of commitment of all these pilgrims of music. They contribute to defending the right to culture, an ideal which requires never letting up the effort. Nor to curb the imagination.
6th edition of the Just Classik Festival in Troyes and the Aube department until October 1st. On the program: chamber music concerts, master classes, public rehearsals, educational workshops…
L’Échappée, the concert truck of the Masques ensemble, to be found on September 30 and October 1 in Cluny, then in November for performances intended for schools.
The Pocket Concerts offer their very rich fall-winter season, with 62 concerts all accompanied by workshops. Eight regions and 24 departments are now affected by the system.
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