Guillaume Connesson, born in 1970, is currently one of the most widely performed French composers worldwide. Commissions are at the origin of most of his works (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre National de France...) including Pour sortir au jour, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (2013) and Les Trois Cités de Lovecraft (co-commission of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestre National de Lyon). Moreover, his music is regularly played by numerous orchestras (Brussels Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra et al.)

He won a Victoire de la Musique award in 2015 and 2019 as well as Sacem's Grand Prize in 2012. His discography includes, amongst others, two monographs of chamber music and three symphonic monographs on the Deutsche Grammophon label. The first, Lucifer, and the third, Lost Horizon, obtained a 'Choc' from Classica magazine, and the second, Pour sortir au jour, numerous critical distinctions such as the 'Diapason d'Or de l'Année' as well the Classica 'Choc de l'Année'.

After studies at the Conservatoire National de Région in Boulogne-Billancourt (his birthplace) and the Paris Conservatoire, he obtained premiers prix in choral direction, history of music, analysis, electro-acoustic and orchestration.

He has been professor of orchestration at the Aubervilliers-La Courneuve Conservatory since 1997.

From 2016 to 2018, he was in residence with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra as well as with the Orchestre National de Lyon. From 2019 to 2021, he is in residence with the Orchestre National d'Ile-de-France.

RESIDENCIES

Orchestre National d'Ile-de-France (2019-2021)

Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra (2017-2018)

Orchestre National de Lyon (2016-2018)

Compositeur associé du Brussels Philharmonic (2016-)

Orchestre de Pau Pays de Béarn (2010-2012)

Royal Scottish National Orchestra (2005-2007)

Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire (1999-2003)

AWARDS

Victoire de la Musique Classique, composer of the year (2019)

Victoire de la Musique Classique, composer of the year (2015)

Grand Prize for Symphonic Music, Sacem (2012)

Grand Prize Lycéens des compositeurs (2006)

Nadia and Lili Boulanger Prize, Institut de France (1999)

Cardin Prize, Institut de France (1998)

Born in 1970, Guillaume Connesson is too young to have had to submit to the ideological and aesthetical diktats imposed on the previous generation of composers. His music, always well-sounding and often spectacular, has absorbed all sorts of multiple influences. His very personal world is a work in progress, growing out of the mix of pragmatism and naïveté which is the trademark of all great creators. Over time and along a great diversity of compositions, Guillaume Connesson’s inspiration follows, in the composer’s own words, " the complex mosaïc of the modern world ".

His first steps were guided by a need to open up to other influences, like pop music - as evidenced in Night Club for orchestra (1996), Double Quatuor (1994) and Disco-Toccata (1994).This primarily rhythmic and hedonist vein, so rare in contemporary ‘serious’ music, reached its peak with the brilliant Techno-Parade for flute, clarinet and piano (2002). As in the works of American composers of the repetitive school (Reich, Adams) - another decisive influence, to wit Sextuor (1998) - the spirit of dance is omnipresent in Connesson’s music. It is therefore not surprising to learn that the cinema aloso inspired him : L’Aurore (1998) was composed as soundtrack to Murnau’s eponymous silent movie.

Guillaume Connesson’s orchestral writing tries to create strong images, that will have a long-lasting effect on the listener. Yet he likes the uncertain, the unpredictable, the meandering melodies which find their resolution in a rich, dense, sometimes thick-woven yet always intell(e)gible writing. L’Appel du feu, a suite from L’Aurore, Enluminures (1999) or Triptyque symphonique (1997-2007) demonstrate his unequalled know-how as an orchestrator, whose harmonic twists and turns are always at the service of expression. In other words, the composer’s luminous compositional language is never the result nor the starting point of vain experimentation. Pragmatism vs idealism ? Yes indeed, if that means giving the pleasure of the ear precedence over fruitless speculation. Connesson - how revolutionary - writes music for the knowing musician. With all the means at his disposal, he also tries to adress a wider public by capturing its attention and sharpening its curiosity.

 

Add to his love of opera the fact that he is not afraid of lyrical outbursts, and it logically follows that Guillaume Connesson would write for the voice. Liturgies de l’ombre, Le Livre de l’amour and Medea, for female voice, all composed between 2000 and 2004, certainly mark a shift, if not a turning point in his career. The pieces reveal a more tormented, anguished inner world. Elegies fraught with emotion (De l’espérance, on a poem by Charles Péguy, or the complete Liturgies de l’ombre cycle ; My Sweet Sister on a poem by Lord Byron in Le Livre de l’amour and even in an orchestra piece from the same period : Une lueur dans l’âge sombre, 2005) or desperate, passionate scenes (the fierce Medea after a text by Jean Vauthier) let new interrogations show through.

His cantata for solo voice, choir and orchestra Athanor (2003) - an ambitious, striking, flamboyant piece - synthetizes all these influences and inspirations. The title is a reference to the alchimist’s furnace. A symbol, not to say an emblem for an artist in ceaseless pursuit of the miracle that would let music instantly turn the next minute into eternity."

Bertrand Dermoncourt.

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