Claire Gibault

French conductor (born 1945 in Le Mans)

Claire Gibault is a French conductor. This world-renowned artist is committed to defending women's role in cultural circles and access to music for everyone.

Claire Gibault was born on 31 October 1945 in Le Mans. She began learning piano at the age of five, then violin at the age of seven at the conservatoire in Le Mans. At 13, she passed her exams in violin and chamber music with distinctions. At 18, she left for Paris to continue her studies at the Paris conservatoire. Five years later, she graduated with distinctions in harmony, fugue, counterpoint, musical appreciation and history of music, then in conducting.

She seemed destined for a brilliant career, but was soon confronted with the difficulties of being a woman in French musical institutions. After conducting the Chambéry National Orchestra and being assistant conductor to John Eliot Gardiner at the Lyon National Opera, she spent seven years as chorus master and workshop director at Lyon Opera. In 1995, she conducted the La Scala Orchestra for the first performance of the opera La station thermale by Fabbio Vacchi. She is the first woman to have held this position. Recognition for her work as an artist was built abroad, notably while conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1997, then the London Covent Garden and Washington Opera orchestras. From 2000 to 2002, Claire Gibault was musical director of the Musica per Roma foundation, where she established the Laboratorio voci in musica. Claire Gibault's career then acquired a broader scope as she conducted orchestras in France, Switzerland, Belgium, the United States and around the world. She excels in first performances of operas and has a special affinity for the Classical and pre-Romantic repertoire.

In 2004, Claire Gibault put her musical career on hold to devote her energy to politics. She was elected European MP on the UDF list, working primarily on employment and welfare conditions for artists. She sat on the Culture and Education Committee and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality. In 2008, she resumed her career in music, though continued to be involved in politics. She was appointed to France's Economic, Social and Environmental Council and elected Vice-President of the Education, Culture and Communication section. In 2010, she founded her own orchestra, the Paris Mozart Orchestra, with 40 musicians. Throughout her wide-ranging career, she has made a point of defending women's rights and has taken a particularly strong stand against discrimination against women in live entertainment. With her strong commitment to the social aspect of music, she is keen to push back the limits of classical music and foster a greater diversity of social backgrounds in audiences. With her orchestra, she performs to audiences who are cut off from music in prisons, hospitals and under-privileged areas.

Six landmark dates in the life of Claire Gibault:

1968: Obtained distinctions in 5 subjects at the Paris conservatoire

1976: Began her career with the Chambéry National Orchestra

1995: Conducted the La Scala Orchestra

2004: Elected European MP

2010: Founded her own orchestra: the Paris Mozart Orchestra

2010: Published her book La musique à mains nues : Itinéraire passionné d'une femme chef d'orchestre