Whether or not we appreciate the President of the Republic, we welcome the fact that, during his visit to Austria, Emmanuel Macron attended not only a concert by Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim, but also a piano master class of Dominique Merlet. This is certainly a first under the Fifth Republic.
Indeed, since Valéry Giscard d’Estaing who loved Mozart and played the accordion, we have had no music-loving president. François Mitterrand was mostly in love with books. Jacques Chirac, a lover of Asian art, sometimes showed himself at the concert, warmly applauded the artists as they walked on the stage… and plunged into a deep sleep as soon as the first notes began. Let us note that he often evoked artistic education in his speeches, even if little of it carried over into reality. Although he first married a descendant of Albeniz – then a musician, Nicolas Sarkozy did not do much for music. Finally, let us remember François Hollande’s total disinterest in music and culture in general.
Another positive signal is the return of music in the schools at the request of the Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer. Good news, despite the problems that the tardy nature this announcement (made at the beginning of the summer) could provoke. But sixteen orchestras, and not the least (orchestras National de France, Paris, Lille, Lorraine, Capitole, Musiciens du Louvre…), mobilized and delegated musicians into schools to welcome young students. This project was obviously easier for salaried ensembles whose members were readily available, than for freelance ensembles, but nonetheless let’s not sulk over this occasion…
More importantly still is the Minister’s desire to see each school or college have an orchestra or a choir. Because music will now be in schools – and no longer exclusively in family settings – all children can become familiar with music. Another positive point - the Minister of Culture, Françoise Nyssen, is a music lover and seems determined to work hand in hand with her colleague of the National Education.
But at the same time, the decrease in the allocations of local and regional authorities continues, including the reduction of subsidized contracts. Let’s bet that culture will be one of the first affected sectors in cities forced to cut back on their spending… The season is therefore likely to be difficult for conservatories and specialized ensembles. Will our decision-makers know, beyond the positive signs they have sent, how to really take into account the requirements of music education and the needs of musicians?
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