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15.3.06

New Symphonic Halls in Paris

As I mentioned here a couple years ago, the city of Paris was planning to reopen the Salle Pleyel, a famous auditorium for musical performances, toward the end of this year. There is more news about symphonic music in Paris, that the French government is going to build two new concert halls in Paris, one for Radio France in 2010 and the other at the Cité de la Musique in the Parc de La Villette in 2012. An article by Armelle Heliot (Paris joue la grande symphonie, March 7) for Le Figaro has the details (my translation):

It looked like a political meeting. Men in suits and ties, lined up along an unending table, on a high floor. And it was, after all, very political. A few lines in the agenda of the Minister of Culture and Communication tipped off readers skilled at decrypting code. On March 6, at 11:30 am, "presentation by Laurent Bayle, general director of the Cité de la musique, about the reopening season of the Salle Pleyel, at the Cité de la musique, and announcement by Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres and Bertrand Delanoë, Mayor of Paris, about the partnership between the city and the state to develop symphonic musical life in Paris." [...]

There are surely a few anxious folks who might ask the question of the public. With these new resources, Paris is drawing up to the level of the large capital cities, London, Berlin, not to mention Tokyo. And yet we might legitimately ask ourselves: will audiences show up? The population pool is certainly large enough, but are the younger generations prepared? We know that concerts are not always sold out in Paris. Far from it sometimes, even in some very prestigious and financially accessible institutions.
Present at the meeting was the list of the musically powerful in France, including Georges-François Hirsch, general director of the Orchestre de Paris; Jean-Paul Cluzel, president of Radio France; Hugues Le Bret, from Société générale, which backs Pleyel; and, of course, Pierre Boulez. The latter has long called for a major auditorium at La Villette, where the group he founded, Ensemble Intercontemporain, is in residence. He now will have his wish, a hall that seats between 2,000 and 2,500 listeners.

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