Laurent Jacquier's challenges

Interviews 24.03.2021

Cabaret Contemporain, Festival Marathon, Ensemble Links, soon the Salle Rameau in Lyon or how to rethink the concert today.

Concerned about the cultural issues of our time, Laurent Jacquier is a fighter who has given himself a mission, that of bringing the public, all publics, to the music of our time. To do this, he founded the Cabaret contemporain in 2009 with the objective of bringing today's music to places where it is not usually heard. This was a first step that led him, in 2012, to reflect more deeply on the contents to reach a young audience with music that is able to surprise them without putting them off.   

Contemporary Cabaret is a concept that has evolved over the years. How is it defined today?

My first desire was to get so-called contemporary music out of its usual venues, by organising concerts in more convivial places, such as the Studio de l'Ermitage, where you could have a drink while listening to the Intercontemporain ensemble play its repertoire. I was satisfied with the form, but not with the content. The public moved around, diversified, certainly, but was not really renewed or rejuvenated. That's why I had to look at the question of content, by looking at more transversal music and practices that make the link with what young people listen to today.

In 2012, the Contemporary Cabaret takes another turn and you sketch the plans of what will become in 2014 your Marathon festival.

I embarked on a more daring adventure and a program that made me distance myself from the world of so-called scholarly written music. The Cabaret contemporain becomes a collective with five musicians, composers, performers and improvisers (piano, synthesizer, guitars, drums, double bass), a sound engineer and a producer. The idea is to play with prepared instruments a music which joins the sounds of the electronic universe in very diverse places going from the Cité de la musique to the nightclub (Machine du Moulin rouge). We have put together programs around composers such as John Cage, Terry Riley, Moondog, so many atypical and marginal figures of the 20th and 21st centuries whose sound universe opens wide artistic horizons and leaves space for improvisation. We have about thirty dates a year, several CDs have been released and we regularly benefit from residencies (Centquatre, Théâtre de la Cité Internationale ....), which allow us to progress in the elaboration of original projects.

Gaité Lyrique concert for the Marathon Festival! - 2016 Edition

And in 2014 the first edition of the Marathon Festival was held!

Marathon is a challenge I set myself... I wanted to set up this festival in a place frequented by young people. With its capacity of eight hundred people, the Gaîté Lyrique, devoted to experimental music, proved to be the ideal space. I can therefore count on the presence of the electro-pop world's top names and program in the same evening music that a younger audience is not used to hearing and that they will discover more easily in this context. It's my way of bringing about a change from within, an adventure which has proved to be a success insofar as the audience has been there every December for seven years now. I like to take this kind of risk with young people and surprise them by offering them things they don't know. In 2014, I created my production company Amarillo, which is responsible for the production of the Marathon! festival, the artistic team Cabaret Contemporain and finally the repetitive music projects. 

With the Cabaret contemporain and the Marathon festival, the Links project is a third string to your bow, a long term companionship with Rémi Durupt and repetitive music.

I have been collaborating with Rémi Durupt of the Ensemble Links for ten years now, and this has resulted in two performances: Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich performed by the Ensemble Links and the dancers of the Cie Sylvain Groud, who get amateurs and the rest of the audience to dance to Reich's piece. And a project around Drumming by Steve Reich, where the musicians play in the middle of the audience, who can move between the different instruments (which we performed at 104 in Paris, but also for my Marathon! Festival at the Gaîté Lyrique). For the 20/21 season, I have launched a new project based on Brian Eno's Music for Airports for a recumbent audience. 

You've just taken a new job that takes you out of the capital...

In addition to the fact that I wanted to establish my family in the provinces and initiate a Rhône-Alpine version of the Marathon! festival , Scintillo, which is in charge of piloting the project, suggested that I take care of the programming of the Salle Rameau in Lyon, a municipal hall that will receive no public subsidy, and which will be financed by the Compagnie de Phalsbourg. It is a performance hall with three levels (orchestra,1st and2nd balconies), with a capacity of 700 seats. The idea is to build a programme that builds bridges between contemporary music and repetitive music and even classical music, around a residency of the Lyon Chamber Orchestra. The Salle Rameau was supposed to open in October 2021, but its opening should be postponed in view of the health context. 

Cabaret Contemporain live at Les Subsistances in Lyon - November 9, 2020

How do you see the future, in the wake of the health crisis that is currently disrupting cultural life?

We are going to be faced with problems that were already there but that the health crisis has reinforced. It is high time to change our economic model in order to stop relying solely on subsidies. I am currently working on the construction of a larger version of the Marathon! festival , which will allow us to welcome a larger audience, and to have a more balanced budget, depending less on subsidies on the one hand, and which will generate more of its own revenue on the other hand (ticketing, bar revenue ...). 

Interview by Michèle Tosi

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