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Power to the imagination

A conversation with Jean-François Zygel

photo: Thibault Stipal photo: Thibault Stipal

In his third year as an Artist in residence at the Philharmonie Luxembourg, Jean-François Zygel presents ten exceptional concerts, combining the piano with the stage, the spoken voice with song, and improvisation with composition.

All year long, armed with that boundless curiosity that impels him to constantly renew his conception of music and of the concert, Jean-François Zygel invites his listeners to discover the treasures of an ever expanding artistic universe, cheerfully mixing notes with words, images, and the stage.

His «Dating» series returns for a new season. Prokofiev’s moving Romeo and Juliet, Beethoven’s Symphony N° 3 «Eroica», and Messiaen’s monumental Des canyons aux étoiles that features the Ensemble intercontemporain are on the programme for 2017/18. Each of those concerts will be followed by an improvisation concert: two offering a veritable «imaginary portrait» of the first two composers, while the third will explore the infinite spaces of the piano in an experimental project entitled Genèse for solo piano and lights.

This season, Jean-François Zygel also presents a new series, «Les dimanches de Jean-François Zygel». Over four Sundays, he performs unusual projects in the company of eminent artists. In October, the Choeur Spirito, conducted by Nicole Corti, will join Zygel for a dream-like, intense vision of sacred music: «An imaginary Requiem» in the company of, among others, Purcell, Fauré, Stravinsky, Mozart, Bach, and Rachmaninov. Jean-François Zygel has himself composed a Kaddish for the sixteen powerful and consoling voices of this French choir. In December, he will turn to Johann Sebastian Bach with the young US jazz pianist Dan Tepfer. Later, in January 2018 he will tackle Le Petit Prince, a celebrated literary work by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which he will set to music. For this poetic event for young and old, he will be joined by Didier Sandre of the Comédie-Française. And finally, in March he will go in search of his family roots in East Side Story, a concert-show with the Yiddish singer Talila and the cellist Martine Bailly that retraces the history of Jewish immigration between the wars and the individual stories of some of those involved.

Over the season, a range of different approaches takes you into the world of an artist who draws persistently on our most precious faculty: the imagination.

Charlotte Brouard-Tartarin