CD Reviews | CTD (Briefly Noted) | JFL (Dip Your Ears) | DVD Reviews


Jean Nouvel's Philharmonie de Paris

Philharmonie de ParisThe financial disaster continues to claim cultural victims, with opera companies and orchestras cutting back their seasons or closing down completely. The plans of the French government for a new concert hall, the Philharmonie de Paris to be built to a design by Jean Nouvel, have also hit a major bump. Where could one possibly build a major structure like this dans l'enceinte de Paris? In a neighborhood that is exploding at the moment, the XIXe arrondissement, at a site planned behind the Cité de la musique near the Porte de Pantin. The costs of 200 million € were to be shared by the City of Paris (45%), the national government (45%), and the regional government (10%). As reported by Ariane Bavelier (La Philharmonie de Paris cherche à naître sans fausse note, January 8) for Le Figaro, fiscal resolution is wavering (my translation):

"The Philharmonie is not a concert hall, says its director, Laurent Bayle. "It was conceived as a 21st-century tool to expand the audience base for historical artistic forms." [...] A sign of the times, the concert hall itself will be more intimate. "At the Salle Pleyel, there are 1,900 seats, with the farthest one 47 meters away from the conductor. At the Philharmonie, there will be 2,400 but the farthest away will be 32 meters from the conductor," adds Laurent Bayle. An anti-ivory tower, the hall will be adaptable to host concerts of amplified music with 3,000 spectators. On the outside, the building will be conceived as a walking space for all people, with a strong architecture and a roof-walk 37 meters above the ground on which people can stroll.
To help children learn to love music in their youth, there will be a teaching role for the building, with practice rooms and classes for performance and composition. To help artists work their magic, rehearsal rooms will be open to the public in some cases, to allow people to follow the preparation of concerts like they watch practices for soccer matches. With the tax base on the decline, something from the plans is probably going to have to go: the Mairie de Paris has already had to take out more debt to keep to its part of the financial obligation.


MUSE said...

Sad. There are problems in New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Seattle and other places - enough to make one nervous.

jfl said...

Sounds like a neat project. Except it will end up costing >€500 million--and that's not including the cost of inevitable strikes during the building process. Now if only they had a professional orchestra to fill this building with.

Charles T. Downey said...

Hahaha. Jens, you have hit the dilemma on the head. The joke about French projects of the sort is that they aim big and visionary, cost far more than they should for much less than they planned, and end up with something that was probably not really needed in the first place. But, hey, isn't Christoph Eschenbach, incoming King of the Kennedy Center, the music director of that non-existent professional orchestra?

The planned completion date of 2012 may be "slightly delayed," which is bureaucratic speak for "may never happen."