Everything is in everything...

Philippe Thanh 21/04/2016
Could the aphorism of the late Pierre Dac, "Everything is in everything and vice versa," serve as a guideline to the Ministry of Culture? One one might wonder upon discovering that the state has appointed Camelia Jordana to the board of directore of the Ensemble Intercontemporain. This news crated a buzz on the social networks, we even thought for a moment that it might be an April Fool’s joke. But no.
So this likeable young singer, revealed in 2009 by the TV show "Nouvelle Star", will sit alongside the composer Pascal Dusapin, and will, like him, to give her opinion on the operation and financing of the Ensemble intercontemporain, on the appointment or reappointment of the music director (currently the composer Matthias Pintscher), and to pronounce judgment on the Ensemble’s artistic programming.

While the board is not involved in the daily artistic activity of the orchestra, the choice of those personalities appointed to it is an indicator of the level of the state’s interest. Henry Loyrette (former head of the Louvre) or Brigitte Lefèvre (formerly director of dance at the Paris Opera) do not sit in the CIS because of their expertise in contemporary music, but these are personalities from the cultural world whose notoriety - or whose address books - can serve the interests of the Ensemble intercontemporain.

We understand the underlying message sent by the Ministry of Culture to the orchestra founded by Pierre Boulez: "Enough of this elitism, open up your programming to other music and to new audiences." Translation: "You cost us much money, you must reach more people." This injunction had already been anticipated by the EIC, which has expanded its repertoire and more than doubled its audience in the space of three years.

Above all, it is a rather unfriendly message addressed to musicians who are all renowned soloists, who have invested years of studying, of working hard to defend an essential repertory, crucial for the survival of music, even if it does not always fill concert halls, and is, for the most part, ignored by the media.

This is a well-known tune that has already been resonating in the ears of musicians, be they players, orchestra managers, teachers or conservatory directors. Again, the charge of elitism is an a priori that clings to musician’s tailcoats like Captaine Haddock’s Band-Aid.

In short, if this continues, we will soon be asking the classical ensembles to program pop music. Moreover, many musicians are already free-lancing by playing pop music in ad hoc ensembles. At least we might expect more convincing results when pop singers start trying to sing operatic arias!

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