Seldom has an artist worked so diligently to win recognition for his instrument. Through his talent and artistic curiosity, Pascal Contet has given the accordion the prestige it lacked through masterful performances in such varied domains as contemporary music, jazz and even the theatre.
Pascal Contet was already an accomplished accordionist when he left France to undertake advanced studies in Fribourg in Switzerland, at the Musikhochschule in Hanover, at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and at the Akademie der Künste de Graz in Austria. His talent was very soon recognised. He won awards from the Fondation Cziffra (1983) and the Menuhin Foundation (1986), and received a scholarship from the Bleustein-Blanchet Foundation in 1989. In 1993, he set out to build a new repertoire for the accordion. As a result, he has premiered numerous works by the greatest contemporary composers of the time, including Georges Aperghis, Claude Ballif, Luciano Berio, Edith Canat de Chizy, Bernard Cavanna, Jean-Pierre Drouet, Peter Eötvös, Philippe Fénelon, Jean Françaix, Sofia Goubaïdoulina, Bruno Mantovani and Jacques Rebotier. He is regularly invited by a variety of festivals: the Radio France "Présences" festival, the Fondation Royaumont, Les Flâneries in Reims, the Francophonies in Limoges, and festivals in Lisbonne, Berlin, Geneva and Lausanne. He is a soloist with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Orchestre National de l’Opéra de Paris and the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, led by leading conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Jean-Claude Casadesus. He is a permanent soloist with the Ensemble 232M and Ars Nova, and also performs with the Ensembles Court-Circuit, Les Temps Modernes and the Ensemble Modern.
Pascal Contet is not confined to the contemporary classical repertoire. He is also involved in improvisation alongside Joëlle Léandre, and delivers exciting performances in the world of jazz: in 2007, he was nominated for the Artist of the Year award in the Jazz "Victoires" for his album NU. He is also involved in theatrical projects with Marie-Christine Barrault, Fabrice Melquiot, or the Congolese artist Dieudonné Niangouna discovered at the 2009 Avignon Festival. In the educational field, he has been teaching at the Berne conservatoire since 1991. He has given masterclasses in Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul and Hanover. In 2008, he led the Jazz Campus en Clunisois summer school. In 2010, he was approached by Radio France. He produced the programme Des Vagues et des Lames there, then, in December 2011, he presented the Nuit de l’Accordéon. He has recorded around 40 discs. In 2015, he recorded the CD Fantaisies lyriques with clarinettist Paul Meyer, on transcriptions of opera arias.
Six landmark dates in the life of Paul Contet:
1993: set out to build a new repertoire for the accordion
2007: Artist of the Year at the Jazz Victoires awards
2010: produced the radio programme Des Vagues et des Lames on France Musique
2011: presented the radio programme Nuit de l’Accordéon on France Musique
2012: premiered Over the Sea by Edith Canat de Chizy and Cantata No. 4 by Mantovani
2015: released a CD Fantaisies lyriques with Paul Meyer
Official website: http://www.pascalcontet.com/accueil.html
Biography compiled from Radio France Documentation, September 2015