Monaco’s annual Spring Arts Festival has arrived, perfectly timed with the beginning of the spring season that brings music and culture to the Principality from the 17th of March to the 8th of April.
The Monaco Spring Arts Festival (Festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo) is possibly one of the year’s most exciting cultural events, bringing talented artists from all over the world to the glorious setting of the Principality where guests are entertained with art, music, theatre and dance throughout the three weeks. It is a veritable music and dance festival, a unique event created in response to the wishes of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier III; now under the patronage of Princess Caroline of Hanover, the festival upholds its grand reputation thanks to its varied line up and broad scope. An event that welcomes highly esteemed and renowned performers such as the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo and The Royal Ballet of Cambodia. However, the festival also presents an opportunity for discovery, not only focusing on well-established artists, but also on the future of music and its new talents.
The Festival combines a variety of musical styles, spanning incredibly from the 11th to the 21st century, including Renaissance period music, songs by Romantic composer Hector Berlioz and even traditional Congolese music. The event presents a new and original way of experiencing music both through the themes on display and the special concert locations, such as the majestic Musée Océanographique, the Yacht Club and the Place du Casino. The public is able to reconnect with ancient styles and open their mind to the variety found in music and performance, revisiting lost art forms.
The concerts are a mixed representation of the greatest artists of years past and the modern musicians of tomorrow – an experience created according to Princess Caroline’s desired image of the festival, who also brought variety to the art on display by introducing theatre and artistic talent to the program. An idea that increased the festivals popularity and assured its continued success; the festival is in fact admired globally and is reproduced on the radio as well as various TV channels. Thanks to the efforts of Prince Albert and Princess Caroline, Monaco’s cultural vibrancy is still admired and ever-present during this 33rd edition of the Spring Arts Festival officially created in 1984.
On Saturday the 18th, the Renaissance Music Concert was held at the Musée Océanographique de Monaco, a truly wondrous setting for an evening of music. The concert opened up with flute player Samuel Bricault who gave his rendition of Michaël Levinas Frossements d’Ailes and then the main act, Doulce Mémoire, took over. The orchestra premiered their new production of Claude Le Jeunes’s Le Printemps, a collection of songs dating from 1530 to 1600 that moved away from antique styles and introduced the rhythm of language to music, using various combinations of long and short syllables to create a unique and poetic sound. The songs were harmonious with the themes of spring; beginnings and endings, rebirth and celebration of natural beauty, all conveyed with an optimistic and joyous sound. Some songs referred to new and lost love, a yearning of affection and appreciation of an individual, which interestingly enough showed similarities to today’s modern love songs!
The Spring Arts Festival, although largely dedicated to the various concerts on show, also offers visitors the chance to attend and take part in many activities based on the themes being presented. This includes conferences held by guest musicologists as well as master-classes open to musicians wanting to perfect their piano or flute playing, and round table talks on subjects such as Renaissance Classics, discovering Berlioz, and today’s musical education.
One of the most interesting festival activities is the ‘Surprise Trip’; guests are picked up at Port Hercule in Monaco where they hop onto a bus that takes them to a mystery location somewhere relatively nearby. There they will immerse themselves in the organised musical performances, kept secret until the very last minute. A musical journey that will definitely give those passionate about music a day to remember!
Each year the Spring Arts Festival works to introduce new elements to the performances and guest list therefore maintaining its reputation of excellence and diversity, and as Aristotle said, “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation”.