New 'Concerto' for Apartment Building and Orchestra Creates a Different Kind of Balcony Seat

Jul 12, 2017

Usually audience members sit in the balcony seats at an orchestra concert. But a recent performance by the Paris Chamber Orchestra turned all that on its head.

On July 6 and 7, the orchestra played an open-air performance of composer Pierre Sauvageot's Grand Ensemble: Dialogue Between an Apartment Building and a Symphony Orchestra from the balconies of an apartment building overlooking Paris' Place d'Aligre.

Sauvageot's work mixes the sounds of contemporary orchestral music with the everyday noises and happenings of an urban apartment building — the chatter of residents, the squeals of children, toilets flushing, dishes clanking in the kitchen, the traffic outside — and also the sounds from the audience listening to all of this from their seats in the square below.

The musicians were perched in small groups on the apartment building’s balconies and kept in time with each other with the aid of a click-track piped to them through headphones.

Supported by Lieux Publics, an organization that specializes in the creation of cultural happenings in public spaces, Grand Ensemble offers responses to two important questions about music today: What constitutes music? What is a classical music concert venue in the age of house concerts, bar shows and pop-up performances in unexpected places?

Check out this story from France 24 TV about last week's balcony performances.

And watch this video about the creation of Grand Ensemble: