La Chambre aux échos is the only music theatre company in France led by both a director and a conductor. From the inception of a project to its premiere, each step and artistic move is the result of discussion: in the pair, each brings his own experience of his field, to come up with a shared artistic expression that is both coherent and innovative. This collaborative scheme is based on a somewhat underestimated tradition of music theatre that puts forward, first and foremost, the act of serving together –ultimately also with a larger pool of craftspeople and specialists– the committed vision of a total art
Aleksi Barrière was born in 1989 in Paris. He discovered theatre as an interdisciplinary art form while working on various performances as an actor, dramaturge and assistant with stage director Sarah Méadel, with whom he later co-directed his first show, Ionesco’s The Lesson, in 2006. At that time he also started working as a translator of drama (including Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream into French), a stage-borne approach to text that has since then remained central to his protean activities.
While studying philosophy (at the Sorbonne University), then stage directing and scenography (at the Theatre Faculty of Prague), he kept on gorging on various influences, by collaborating as an assistant with director Peter Sellars (Santa Fe Opera, 2008) and as a director and a scenographer with the multimedia art group Image Auditive, on a version of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck (Royal Festival Hall, London, 2009) and a staged video-concert (Miller Theater, NYC, 2014). Video as a medium is a defining part of his approach, both within his stage performances and in dedicated formats. He has also accompanied as a dramaturge the making of a chamber version of Wagner’s Ring by the company T&M, under Antoine Gindt’s stage direction (European tour in 2011).
His activity as a stage director unfolds on an international level: after various shows in Czech Republic, spanning from Elizabethan repertory to the theatre of Jean Genet and collective creations, he crafted a version of Kim B. Ashton’s opera the boy, the forest and the desert (Grimeborn Festival, London, 2011) and has been invited by such hosts as the National Conservatory of Music in Paris (La Voix humaine, 2013) and the READ Festival in Helsinki (Babel, 2014). But it is mainly within the company La Chambre aux échos, which he founded with conductor Clément Mao-Takacs, that he develops the original and committed forms of music theatre that are his main focus. Driven by works of the contemporary era and a craving for interdisciplinarity and porosity between forms and audiences, the collective has recently toured i.a. in Belgium, Croatia, Denmark and Poland, and its version of Kaija Saariaho’s La Passion de Simone (premiered in 2013) is to be performed in Norway and the US in the upcoming season.
As an author of both literary and theoretical texts, his output has been set to music by Kaija Saariaho, and he has written many articles for reviews (théâtres & musiques, Tempus perfectum, Music & Literature…), institutions such as the Paris Opera, and art books and catalogues. He is also active as a lecturer and teacher in various educational programs in schools and hospitals, an endeavor that is also key to the outreach philosophy of La Chambre aux échos. He collaborates as an artistic advisor to the programs of Clément Maio-Takacs’s ensemble Secession Orchestra, for which he has written many texts about music and the arts.
He has received scholarships from the Bayreuth Festival (2011) and the ENOA network (for workshops at the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 2010 and at the LOD in Ghent in 2012), and since 2015 from the Akademie Musiktheater Heute of the Deutsche Bank. He is currently writing a doctorate thesis about the work of Peter Sellars, and his commented anthology on the subject of theatre/music relationships is to be published by the Philharmonie de Paris.
Clément Mao – Takacs belongs to the rising stars of the new generation of conductors.
A graduate of the Paris National Conservatory (CNSMDP) and of the Accademia Chigiana in Sienna, he is also a laureate of the Bayreuther Festspiel and received the “Young Talent” Award from the Del Duca Foundation (Institut de France / Académie des Beaux-Arts).
In 2013, he was the first conductor chosen as the laureate of the Fondation Cziffra.
His career as a conductor started at very young age and can be termed a calling: he conducted his first concert at age 15 in Salle Gaveau in Paris. He became the assistant of Janos Komives at the National Opera of Budapest (2002) and for many productions and recordings in France (2001-2003). He was then hired by the musical director of the Rome Opera, Gianluigi Gelmetti, whom he served as an assistant during five years (2003-2008). He has been a guest of the Camerata Strumentale “Città di Prato”, the Wind Ensemble of the CNSMDP, the Festival Orchestra of Sofia, and the ensembles Aquilon and Initium; in the meantime, he was also taken over the musical direction (2004-2010) of the Sérénade Orchestra.
In 2011 he founded the Secession Orchestra, which he leads a musical and artistic director. Immediately lauded by the critics for its excellence and cohesion, Secession Orchestra has given many concerts in France and in Europe. Apart from its season of symphonic concerts in Paris, Secession Orchestra has also performed alongside actors, such as Charles Berling, Didier Sandre, Antoine Duléry, Claude Jamain, Laurence Cordier and Brigitte Fossey. In 2013/2014, Secession Orchestra premiered and toured in Europe the new chamber version of La Passion de Simone (Kaija Saariaho) in the production by the collective La Chambre aux échos.
Clément Mao – Takacs’s technical craftsmanship, extensive knowledge of the repertoire and high standards are unanimously acclaimed and appreciated in both the fields of classical and contemporary music: he is the dedicatee and first performer of many pieces (by Bargielsky, Ballereau, Komives, Feldman, Sikorski, Svensson, Letouvet, Adams, Saariaho) and performs rare works on a regular basis. A close friend of Kaija Saariaho’s music, he has premiered the chamber version of her La Passion de Simone at the Melos-Ethos Festival (Bratislava, Slovakia), the Codes Festival (Lublin, Poland), the Saint-Denis Festival (in the Basilica) and Clermont-Ferrand (La Comédie). In April 2015, he will conduct its Italian premiere in Rome, and its Danish premiere in Copenhaguen in 2016. He will also open the 2015 edition of the Festival de Deauville with a Webern/Wagner/Mahler program.
The lyrical repertoire is of great importance to this lover of literature and of dramatic art, who envisions opera as a crucible for intense collaborations. His encounter with Peter Sellars was crucial to him, and he is a strong friend and collaborator to numerous and diverse actors and stage directors, amongst which Aleksi Barrière with whom he founded and leads the collective La Chambre aux échos.
Clément Mao – Takacs recently recorded Stockhausen’s piece Adieu (Crystal Classics) and a CD devoted to the works of Jacques Ibert (Timpani), which was awarder 5 “diapasons” by the eponymous magazine.
He also pursues a career as a concert pianist (in solo recitals and chamber music) and performs as such on a regular basis; in 2015, he will be part of the European “Rising Star” program alongside soprano Omo Bello. He is also a composer, his output consisting essentially in orchestral and vocal works. Lastly, he is an artistic advisor to many institutions and festivals, and participates in public and academic debates on the subjects of comparative arts (music, literature, visual and fine arts), performance studies and the relationships between culture and education, in various symposiums, educational events and articles.