Maxime Pascal is the Music Director of Paris-based orchestra Le Balcon
Music Director: Le Balcon
Maxime Pascal is a passionate advocate for contemporary music, and makes it one of the foundations of his musical collaborations. In his operatic work, this has led him to creating Salvatore Sciarrino’s latest opera Te vedo, ti sento, mi perdo at La Scala in 2016, which he also took to Berlin’s Staatsoper, and to perform Luca Francesconi’s Quartett with Teatro alla Scala in September 2019, his third collaboration with the opera house.
He also performed Silvia Colosanti’s Requiem at both Transart Bolzano and Spoleto festivals, and put together Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine at Opera di Roma in 2016, in parallel to Wolfgang Rihm’s Jakob Lenz with Camerata Salzburg at Dialogue Festival. He was also asked to stage Toshiro Mayuzumi’s Kinkakuji at Tokyo’s Bunka Kaikan in 2019, conducting Tokyo Symphony Orchestra – to which he was reinvited for performances of Berg’s Lulu in 2020.
He also explores his French heritage in his opera work, having collaborated with Opéra de Paris on multiple occasions to perform pieces such as Daphnis et Chloé, Boléro, L’heure espagnole and Gianni Schicchi, and he conducted Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande at Malmö Opera in 2016.
As a founding member of the multi-faceted artistic group Le Balcon, Pascal has developed together with his colleagues a unique vision of the musical performance as a striking and radical experience for the public. Performing a wide range of repertoire, Le Balcon integrates music with advanced sound and lighting systems, in exciting and compelling musical experiences. Their pprojects so far have included Ariadne auf Naxos, staged by Benjamin Lazar; a video spectacle on Pierrot Lunaire created by the Colombian artist Nieto; and Stockhausen’s Donnerstag Aus Licht at London’s Southbank Centre in 2019. This led to a seven-year collaboration with Philharmonie de Paris, where the ensemble will perform Stockhausen’s whole Licht cycle, having started with Samstag in June 2019 and staging one opera per year.
Maxime Pascal and Le Balcon have collaborated with Pierre Boulez, George Benjamin, Peter Eötvös and Michaël Lévinas, and in September 2016 released their debut album featuring a loose adaptation of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique (Le Balcon & BMedia/distributed by Outhere).
Beyond his work with staged productions, Pascal investigates the links between symphonic music from the core repertoire and 20th and 21st-century pieces. He performed Grisey’s Les Espaces Acoustiques with ORF Radio-Sinfonieorchester Wien at Salzburger Festspiele, but also collaborated with Les Siècles during Berlioz’s 150th anniversary celebration at Hong Kong Arts Festival. He conducted Danish National Symphony Orchestra in Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer and Rimsky-Korsakov’s popular Scheherazade. In 2020 he will work with Patricia Kopatchinskaja to build a programme around Debussy and Sibelius for Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana.
He is establishing himself as a leading conductor in Italy, performing with Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI together with Beatrice Rana, Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana, as well as Orchestra Sinfonica e Coro Sinfonico di Milano Giuseppe Verdi; in Germany, working with Münchner Philharmoniker, SWR Sinfonieorchester, Münchener Kammerorchester, Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester and Ensemble Musikfabrik; and in his native France, with Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine and Orchestre National de Lille.
Born into a musical family, he began his studies on piano and then violin at an early age in his native city of Carcassonne. In 2005 he was admitted to the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris where one of his mentors was François-Xavier Roth.
Maxime Pascal and Le Balcon have been residents at the Singer-Polignac Foundation from 2010, and he is now Associated Artist to the Foundation as well as Artistic Adviser. In November 2011 the Academy of Fine Arts at the French Institute awarded him the Music Prize of the Simone and Cino del Duca Foundation. He is the first Frenchman to win the Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award in March 2014.
“We had a chance to gauge the extraordinary talent of conductor Maxime Pascal […] He’s singular to watch, with swooping seabird movements with both arms – no baton – and a certain invertebrate quality which certainly doesn’t transfer to the music, beautifully shaped but with nodal points punched home.”
(The Arts Desk, David Nice, August 19)
“Pascal is an individual conductor, tall, thin, almost insectile. Batonless, his hands are remarkably expressive, as is almost every other bit of his body […] The thing is, each gesture, or indeed non-gesture, had a point, and the orchestra responded magnificently”
(Seen and Heard International, Colin Clarke, August 2019)
“This 30 year old young conductor on the rise is above all a free artist who blows a breath of fresh air on the world of classical and contemporary music”
(Alain Cochard, A nous Paris, June 2016)
“We like this ensemble of musicians and their conductor for their cheek”
(Christian Merlin, Figaro, June 2015)
“The Balcon ensemble, under the baton of Maxime Pascal, is itself a frenetic centipede, going from stroking harps to panting percussions and from hissing strings to creaking brass”
(Max Yvetot, Marcel et Simone, June 2015)
“This young artist revolutionises the French musical world”
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