Spring is here, and that means the Principality is preparing for its annual celebration of music – Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo.
Running over four weeks, from 20th March to 12th April, this year’s festival caters, as ever, to a broad scope of musical tastes, covering some fascinating topics, in a diverse range of venues. In Monaco these include the Oceanographic Museum, the Yacht Club, the Cathedral, the Grimaldi Forum, the Auditorium Ranier III and the Salle Garnier, and events are also taking place in Nice, Cap-d’Ail, Beaulieu-sur-Mer and La Turbie.
The festival was founded in 1984 by Princess Grace and Antoine Battairi – then Director of Cultural Affairs in the Principality – assisted by Tibor Katona, former conductor of the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, who was appointed artistic consultant. With the continued support of Their Royal Highnesses Prince Albert and Princess Caroline, Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo has taken place each successive year, and seen some of the most illustrious figures and ensembles in the world of classical music grace the stages of the various concert venues.
The opening concert, which takes place at the Oceanographic Museum, features music by Bach – including his St John Passion – and one of the three works specially commissioned for Printemps des Arts – François Bayle’s Deviner, devenir. The other commissioned works are Reverse by Gilbert Nouno and Carmagnole by Gérard Pesson.
This year, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius, and the spotlight in each of the four symphony concerts falls, appropriately, on some of the most important works of the great Finnish composer. The Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Jean Deroyer, opens this series on 21st March with two of his works – Les Océanides and his Symphony No 3. Finnish conductor Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra present an all-Sibelius concert in whch the main work is his Symphony No 5.
Sibelius’ Second Symphony is the featured work in a performance by the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic, led by artistic and music director, Gianluigi Gelmetti and Kazuki Yamada, and the final symphony concert features the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France, conducted by Mikko Franck. In this performance, the guest artist in the Sibelius Violin Concerto is Alina Pogostkina, and included in the programme is his Symphony No 7.
There’s a liberal sprinkling of music by Bach across the wide range of additional performances, as well as works by Bridge, Britten, Casals, Cassadó, Debussy, Donatoni, Keiser, Kodály, Reger, Schoenberg, Schöllhorn and Ysaÿe.
Eminent musicologists will host the series of concert lectures, and in the master classes – which are open to the public – professional musicians will share their knowledge and passion for their subjects with students from local and regional music academies and conservatories.
Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo takes place from 20th March to 12th April, and for a complete list of events, visit the festival website where you’ll find all the details you need to plan your programme, and to buy tickets. You can also sign up for the festival newsletter, read about the history of this impressive cultural celebration, and delve into the archives of festivals past.
All images courtesy Printemps des Arts; poster © Helène Delprat