The recent discovery in Salzburg of a 28-year-old French composer, passionate about contemporary music and electronic techniques, has put Maxime Pascal in the spotlight.
Born into a family of musicians, Maxime Pascal started learning how to play the piano and then the violin at nine years of age, in the town of Carcassonne, before pursuing his studies in Tarbes and Bayonne. He then entered the Paris Conservatory to study composition and musical analysis. He rapidly felt the need to conduct, therefore he enrolled in François-Xavier Roth’s orchestra conducting class. While he was still a student, in 2008 he founded Paris-based orchestra Le Balcon (named in honour of Jean Genet's play), together with composers Pedro Garcia-Velasquez, Juan-Pablo Carreño and Mathieu Costecalde, pianist and choirmaster Alphonse Cemin and sound engineer Florent Derex. The distinctive feature of this multifaceted orchestra, particularly oriented towards contemporary music, is to use technical sound systems. Maxime Pascal, strongly influenced by the enveloping sound of cinemas, wants to enhance the effects of music on an audience who is enveloped in a whole show. He has worked with personalities such as Pierre Boulez in order to present another version of Marteau sans maître (The Hammer without a Master) in 2011. The Athénée Théâtre Louis-Jouvet became the home for Le Balcon, and it welcomed a concert version of Richard Strauss’ Ariadne on Naxos in 2013.
Pascal has been director of the Impromptu Orchestra and a resident, since 2010, at the Singer-Polignac Foundation. In March 2014, he became the first Frenchman to win the Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award in Salzburg, a very high-profile initiative for orchestra directors.
Six landmark dates in the life of Maxime Pascal
2005: he entered the Paris Conservatory
2008: he founded Le Balcon
2011: he was part of the International Ensemble Modern Academy and performs in Austria
2012: he performed Stockhausen’s Michael's Journey Around The World
2013: he conducted Ariadne on Naxos at the Athénée Theatre
2014: he won the Young Conductors Award in Salzburg
Biography from Radio France’s document database, April 2014