Searching For The Orchestra Around The World – a Concert Partage
By Liam Klenk
On 24th October 2020, I attended a Concert Partage in Montpellier’s opera house. It was a refreshing mix of genres. A burst of creativity. And also a surprisingly interactive event. With the help of the audience, a detective searched for run-away orchestra musicians. Her search took us on a journey around the world.
A Concert Partage is something I had not been aware of before coming to the South of France. Translated, it means “Shared Concert”. This term describes performances that encompass more than one genre.
On 24th of October 2020, this creative concept resulted in an incredibly surprising and enchanting performance. A mix between concert, visual arts, and theatre.
The Montpellier Symphonic Orchestra performed select pieces of classical music from composers around the world.
To breathe life into this classical performance, a director had the fabulous idea of basing the music on a children’s book, called “L’Orchestre”.
This book consists of adorable water color paintings. It tells the story of a private detective who is traveling to all corners of the world to help a conductor. Because the conductor’s orchestra has gone missing.
In the story, the musicians have sent their conductor postcards from the countries they have travelled to. So the conductor has an approximate idea of where each of them is hiding out. On high alert, the private detective she has hired rushes off to bring back the eloped musicians.
For the performance, an actress portrayed this beautifully by finding postcards and presenting them to the audience. She did this with a dry, hilarious sense of humor. And also managed to involve the audience to a great extent by asking them questions.
As such, the re-scheduling of the concert, due to a just recently enforced Covid-related curfew, turned out to be an advantage.
Instead of at 8 o’clock at night, the concert took place at 11 o’clock in the morning. Which led to many parents bringing their children along. The surprisingly large amount of energetic kids in the audience added a vividness to the proceedings us rather down-to-earth and shy adults would never have been able to contribute.
As the detective went from scene to scene, she raced around the world.
Classical music from composers of each respective region aided her in her efforts.
Whenever she felt particularly frustrated and lost on her journey, she asked the children for help. At one point, the detective wondered aloud which mode of transport might be best to get back to Italy from Egypt? “Un Ananas!” (a Pineapple!), one kid screamed at the top of his lungs.
The entire audience and orchestra collapsed with laughter.
The director of the Concert Partage had asked the children’s book author to contribute as well.
The author designed the concert poster.
Also, each piece of classical music was brilliantly accompanied by a short film.
Each film showed the artist’s hand from above. As she created the landscapes the private detective needed to travel through to retrieve the musicians.
It was the most unique concert I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing.
None of the audience members, children and adults alike, drifted away from what happened on stage. No one got distracted, checked their phones, or talked with each other.
All eyes and ears were riveted to the stage as visual, theatrical, and musical worlds intertwined… taking us far away on an unforgettable adventure.
At the end, children and adults alike shouted “Bravo.”
And, even though we were a greatly reduced audience due to Covid19 distancing regulations, thunderous applause rose and filled every corner of the large auditorium.