Le Salon de Musiques: New Concert Series Redefines Classical Music, with a Little Help from Montesquieu Wines
December 21, 2010, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi
How about the local orchestra? Average age around eighty?
Well not at Los Angeles’ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on the third Sunday of each month. The founders of Le Salon de Musiques, a new concept in live music, are trying to make their classical music concerts the hottest tickets in town, and to attract a dynamic new demographic in the process. And they seem to be succeeding.
And we at Montesquieu Winery are doing all we can to help. It’s such a pleasure to encounter others in our communities that are like-minded in their embodiment of the “art of living” – a value that animates all we do, from our relationships with our clients to the wines we choose to source. It’s in this spirit that we chose to sponsor Le Salon de Musiques, this innovative chamber music series.
The monthly concerts take place in an intimate setting with no stage, and the artists and audience meet after each performance to enjoy a light meal, Champagne and conversation. To enhance appreciation for the works being performed, the artists provide insightful introductions, speaking about the various movements being played, the composers’ history and other information designed to give the audience a deeper understanding of the musical program. The creators of the series aim to breathe new life into their passion, chamber music, by breaking down the traditional barriers that exist in standard concert venues to achieve a shared experience, a meaningful exchange, beyond the performance.
I attended the second concert on November 21, a performance of Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major a work completed just two months before the composer’s early death, at age 31. Each artist introduced individual examples of the piece with verbal explanation before playing the piece as a whole. This additional explanation, paired with the conversation that took place after the performance and the questions posed by the audience, brought me a to a new level of appreciation for the artistry I had the pleasure to experience. I sat in the front row transfixed, and could hear and feel the resonance of the strings and the artists breathing in transition. The performance was exquisite, and of course I can’t help but compare it to discovering a truly magnificent wine –encountering inspired art that speaks to you is an emotional and visceral experience, and great food for the soul too. Our 2005 Jerome Dehours Grand Vintage Champagne, poured after the performance, was the perfect touch to accompany such an evening!
I wasn’t alone in my reaction; the eclectic, well-heeled crowd gave the artists an enthusiastic reception. Likewise, Rodney Hunt wrote a positive review on the Huffington Post. (Rodney and his wife were also very kind to help me with directions as we shared the elevator — thank you Rodney!) The last time I had been to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was years ago while a student at Pepperdine attending Don Giovanni in the large main theater. But the Le Salon de Musiques series is on the 5th floor in a very intimate salon overlooking the rest of the music center and the downtown skyline. As the concert played the sunset framed the background, and the full moon offered an elegant flourish to the already lovely ambiance.
The series was founded by François Chouchan, renowned French pianist, who is co-artistic director with renowned violinist Phillip Levy. Bernard Philippe, with an extensive background in the arts, serves as artistic advisor and Executive Manager. They have organized an inaugural season of eight concerts with a traditional line up of mainly German composers. The resident French and German Consulates are patrons as well, and the featured artists in the series are truly the best of the best. The concerts are every 3rd Sunday, which began October 17th, 2010 and will run through May 15, 2011.
François shared with me that his inspiration grew from his childhood in Versailles, where the original Le Salon de Musique was founded by Marie Antoinette in 1780, also known as the Belvedere Salon de Musique, or simply the Belvedere. Built on a small man-made island within the vast gardens of the Chateau de Versailles, it was a haven for Marie Antoinette to escape the rigid etiquette of her position, revealing her embrace of “Art de Vivre” founded on a freedom of thought inspired by the Enlightenment. It was this relatively informal setting, centered around music, that inspired François to dream of this series.
When François arrived in Los Angeles he felt he finally found the perfect venue for Le Salon de Musiques with the special energy of Los Angeles full of lively people, artists and opportunities. François and his partners are excited to break the traditional barriers of artist and audience. “Artists work so hard rehearsing and rehearsing and finally the performance comes,” he said. “When you do what you love, you give all your emotion to your art like a love affair, to hopefully transmit to the audience something meaningful. Typically we perform and leave, and there is no dialogue. We hope to bring the two worlds together, artist and audience to share and discover, to have real conversations.” It is the directors’ wish to invite people from all backgrounds to escape their computers and virtual routines to interact in an exciting and refreshing way.
Montesquieu Winery is pleased to provide exclusive, limited-production Champagne for each concert. The light gourmet buffet is provided by the Patina Group. Thank you Le Salon de Musiques—François, Bernie, and Phillip—for creating such a unique opportunity to support our shared belief that appreciation for, and celebration of, the connection between fine wine, food and the arts is essential to the “art of living”. Bravo!