“A travelling Orchestra”
During your holiday in Brittany, you are likely to have come across the Brittany Symphony Orchestra, who were invited to the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Langourla, the Festival Rive Gauche on the northern “Emerald Coast” and the Filets Bleus de Concarneau. Throughout summer, the OSB travels up and down the region, before finally returning to its home port in Rennes for the new season.
Concerts for everyone
Why is the orchestra roaming the land, and expanding its collaboration diary? So it can reach everyone: children, orchestra aficionados, new technology buffs, chamber music lovers and those keen to explore the links between music worlds. “There’s a concert for everyone with the OSB,” ensures Marc Feldman, the orchestra’s general manager, at the presentation of the 2016/2017 season. Its programme clearly shows its determination to expand its repertoire, while remaining “rooted in a musical heritage dating back 500 years”.
With a Welsh conductor, Grant Llewellyn, and an American manager, Marc Feldman, the Brittany Symphony Orchestra is naturally pushing back its frontiers. It also works closely with Breton and Celtic artists. This desire to unite tradition and modernity takes spectators into virgin territory, from video games to Santéria’s Afro-Cuban rituals and brand new symphonic experiences inspired by Gainsbourg, world music or the Fest-Noz culture. Not forgetting collaborations with Rennes Opera for its world premières and performances all over the region. “The OSB”, “travelling orchestral ship”, has even more surprises in store with the new 2016-2017 season.
Couvent des Jacobins: a new home for the orchestra
The OSB will soon be even closer to the heart of Rennes’s heritage with a fitting new home, the Couvent des Jacobins Grand Auditorium, Rennes Métropole’s future conference centre set to open its doors to the public in 2018.
New horizons, new experiences
“Nouveaux horizons “, an important and innovative part of the OSB’s programme, draws on previous years’ experiments. This year, the orchestra is going where it never has before with a first in Western France: Video Games Live. This concert offers reinterpretations of the most famous video game soundtracks. “The energy of a rock concert merged with the power of a symphony orchestra, combined with the technology, interactivity and entertainment that you can only get from video games…”
The greatest video game music
A moment to be experienced at the Liberté, not too far removed from the classical repertoire. “We forget about the great musical scores that are brought to us by video games,” admits Marc Feldman. “From Tetris to Skyrim, it’s another facet of today’s orchestral music.” Pieces from video game music performed by an orchestra, it’s a bit like when silent films first began and musicians gave a new dimension to the images shown on the screen. For the OSB, this is above all another occasion “to expand its repertoire, reach a wider audience and work with new technologies”. A stage in the construction of a “21st century orchestra” which is also hoping to take it further with start-ups and the digital ecosystem in Rennes. On 21 June 2016, the OSB launched a “Symphonic Pitch”, with La French Tech Rennes-Saint-Malo, to “disrupt” the concert hall experience. Another ground-breaking project for the Brittany Symphony Orchestra.
A tribute to Gainsbourg and exploring world music
Other exceptional events in the 2016/2017 season include a series of concerts to pay tribute to Serge Gainsbourg in Rennes, Vitré, Brest and Vannes. With vocals from Jane Birkin and Didier Benetti conducting, the orchestra will interpret some of Gainsbourg’s works, known for his frequent co-opting of the classics (e.g. Chopin, Brahms, Dvořák).
The OSB will also dabble in world music, with guest of honour Omar Sosa, to perform one of Guillaume Saint-James’s compositions about the seven deadly sins. Crossing over to Afro-Cuban music before embarking on another journey, this time towards the East, with the Sirba Orchestra for “a wonderful escapade to the sound of Eastern European melodies”.
The Taliesin project: sparks with fly
The Taliesin Project, which takes its name from the Brittany’s sixth century chief of the bards, is representative of an orchestra deeply rooted in its origins. Since Marc Feldman took over as director in 2011, the OSB has been revisiting the musical identity of Brittany. The result is a typically Breton fest-noz symphonic performance at the Yaouank festival in 2016/2017. A unique creation, whose ambition, according to the orchestra’s director, is “to forge links between folk music and classical music through a common desire to get people dancing”.
Collaborations with the faces of breton and celtic music
With vocalist Annie Ebrel alongside the Hamon and Martin duo, the orchestra continues its work with well-known names from Breton and Celtic music, in line with their previous collaboration with Carlos Nunez and Dan Ar Braz. This new work, as well as the others that make up the Projet Taliesin, is the subject of a crowdfunding campaign to encourage spectators to become sponsors of the orchestra and its Breton creations.
Continuing its exploration of Atlantic Europe, the orchestra is welcoming royal harpist Catrin Finch to pay tribute to the bards of Welsh literature through the music of Claude Debussy and Welsh melodies.
Les essentiels: carte blanche for an artist
The orchestra has an ability to tell stories through music. “Les Essentiels” is a chance for a new artist each year to be given carte blanche. An artist-in-residence explores an entire world of musical expression, which will be seen by the audience in a new light.
After Ibrahim Maalouf in 2014/2015, it’s the turn of world-renowned pianist Cédric Tiberghien in 2016/2017 who has taken on the task of creating alchemy between diverse musical genres including John Cage and chamber music. Bringing Mozart and Beethoven together (as part of the Beethoven Festival), guests including oud player Taiseer Elias and a host of other surprises are in store. Traditionally, the artist-in-residence and the orchestra take the show on the Breton road, with concerts in Rennes, Saint-Brieuc, Quimper, Pleudihen-sur-Rance, Saint-Malo and Lorient.
Re-creations with Rennes Opera
“A true orchestra has to play opera,” affirms Marc Feldman. In collaboration with Rennes Opera directed by Alain Surrans, the Orchestra comes in a range of all-terrain sizes. A world première, the Ombre de Venceslao will be performed several performances in Rennes, in a “pocket opera” format that will tour all over Brittany, and to bring the season to a close, broadcast on giant screens in Rennes and beyond the confines of the opera house through different channels: in the open air in the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, on TV screens, computers, etc. A fantastic experience to brush up on your classics!
Symphony for the whole family
As a “resource orchestra”, the OSB opens up to the whole family with creations suited to a younger audience and “Piccolo” concerts to help them understand the music, fire their curiosity and prepare them to listen to the concert. “The best way to share a love of music is through the family,”reminds Marc Feldman. A large part of OSB’s work is focused on children, with cultural and educational activities, such as the Classes d’O by La Fabrik, which takes a look behind the scenes of the Orchestra.
Symphonie pour une plume, a benoît menut creation
To reach out to a younger audience, you need to inspire their creativity! The OSB’s composer-in-residence Benoît Menut, along with stage director Florence Lavaud, has created the Symphonie pour une Plume. This symphonic work is open to everyone over six years of age and is based on the theme of imaginary friends. Co-produced by Très Tôt Théâtre and Cie Chantier, this creation explores the role of the orchestra in commissioning contemporary works. According to the composer, “contemporary music must appeal to all audiences”, with Symphonie pour une Plume devoted to childhood, being an example of this.