Complementary to the La Maestra International Competition for Women Conductors, the La Maestra Academy is an ongoing 2-year programme which opened in September 2020 following the inaugural La Maestra competition.
The Academy is the result of a visionary collaboration between the Philharmonie de Paris and the Paris Mozart Orchestra, joint producers of the La Maestra competition. Its objective is to provide individually targeted high-level professional experience, mentoring, coaching and career support for the three competition finalists, the semi-finalists and some of the candidates who took part in the earlier rounds of the La Maestra competition.
The Academy is uniquely endorsed by committed associate partnerships with venues and orchestras around France, as well as internationally through the European Concert Hall Organisation ECHO network.
The Philharmonie de Paris will draw upon its resources, resident and guest artists and participating partners to set up a series of artistic, educational and societal activities designed to benefit and support the Fellows of the Academy with performances, workshops, promotion, master classes and work with the DEMOS project.
Fellows of the Academy are offered a programme of professional engagements as part of the Philharmonie de Paris season, including concerts for the general public, educational concerts, concerts with amateurs and concerts in schools.
The Orchestre de Paris and other resident orchestras and ensembles at the Philharmonie such as the Orchestre National d’Île-de-France and the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, as well as regularly invited guest orchestras such as Les Siècles or Concerts Pasdeloup, are active associates and champions of the project.
The Paris Mozart Orchestra has devised a bespoke concert series for the Academy entitled Diversità – a variety of programmes, including one for a young audience, to be performed at the Philharmonie de Paris and during subsequent national and international tours. These concerts will be conducted jointly by PMO music and artistic director Claire Gibault and Fellows of the Academy.
The Orchestre de Paris offers youth concerts preceded by a week of assisting one of their guest conductors, and the Orchestre National d’Île-de-France also offers youth concerts on the same basis.
In addition, the Academy enjoys partnerships with major orchestras, institutions and venues across France, including those in Toulouse, Tours, Montpellier, Metz, Dijon, Lille and Nantes.
As partners of the Academy, the organisers of Victoires de la Musique will invite an Academy Fellow to conduct a short piece with the Orchestre National de Lyon to be broadcast live on National TV as part of their 2021 annual Classical Music Awards ceremony.
Beyond France, the European Concert Hall Organisation ECHO is committed to the project, their network offering a wide range of valuable opportunities either in the form of performances in ECHO venues or through their resident orchestras.
The Orchestre de Paris welcomes Fellows of the Academy to selected rehearsals and performances, entrusting them with the baton as assistant to one of their guest conductors or to their choirmaster Lionel Sow.
The Paris Mozart Orchestra also invites Academy Fellows to assist music director Claire Gibault in demanding and eclectic projects including new commission premieres for larger mixed chamber ensembles and the PMO’s acclaimed education programme Orchestre au Bahut.
In the same spirit, orchestras working regularly with the Philharmonie de Paris such as Les Siècles are committed to opening some of their rehearsals to Academy Fellows.
Fellows will be invited to work in partnership occasionally or regularly with the Academy’s many French and European associate venues and orchestras. Partnerships with venues, particularly those in major European cities, can be key in promoting the careers of young artists.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra hosts Academy Fellows for a week of workshops and mentoring sessions. The Gürzenich Orchestra in Cologne is another partner of the Academy and invites Fellows to its Momentum programme, directed by Barbara Hanningan and François-Xavier Roth.
The Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and its wind ensemble will host a Fellow for a week of rehearsals with both ensembles, alongside study sessions and master classes with Kazushi Ono and Pascual Vilaplana. The Symphonic Choir and Orchestra of the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon will offer a week of similar mentoring to one of the Fellows of the Academy.
Eminent conductors in residence at the Philharmonie de Paris – or invited guests such as Marin Alsop, Claire Gibault, Tugan Sokhiev, Pablo Heras-Casado and Francois-Xavier Roth – will give a series of public master classes in which Academy Fellows can participate. During these master classes music scores will be projected onto a screen so that audiences can grasp the finer points of the composer’s work and the conductor’s craft. Public access to the Pierre Boulez Collection, soon to be available at the Philharmonie de Paris, will enable Academy Fellows to work from scores annotated by Pierre Boulez himself.
Master classes given by Academy Fellows in Parisian and other French music schools will inspire and encourage musical youngsters to consider the possibility of a future career as a conductor.
Academy Fellows are encouraged to take part in master classes or courses organised by other institutions, whether in France or abroad. Partnerships are being set up to this end, notably with Toulouse’s isdaT, the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship and Elizabeth Askren’s Transylvanian Opera Academy.
In-depth contact with experienced and expert music and business professionals is crucial to understanding the artistic, political, social and educational issues at stake in a young conductor’s career. Artists’ agents, orchestral managers, venue directors, programme directors, journalists, press officers, conservatoire directors, orchestra concertmasters, recording company and digital platform executives, marketing and PR specialists, accountants and sponsorship directors – all will be invited to share their wisdom with Academy Fellows.
Topics covered may include personal and professional networking and developing an international network, marketing, choice of repertoire and programming, audience development, public and media relations, sponsorship, the artist’s place in society, contemporary creativity and the relationship of concerts to current educational and social concerns. Google, YouTube and other internet platforms will offer Academy Fellows a raft of adaptive resources, tools and expertise.
The Philharmonie de Paris and the Paris Mozart Orchestra have joined forces with Marin Alsop and the Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship to establish a series of 12 monthly professional online webinar encounters and discussions intended exclusively for Fellows – of La Maestra Academy and Taki Alsop Conducting Fellowship alumni. Topics covered will include How to start your own ensemble, Crisis management, The relationship between conductor and musicians of the orchestra, The role of the leader, and How to play Haydn or Mozart on modern instruments – with guest speakers including world-famous conductors, prestigious orchestra managers and sought-after agents.
The Academy will offer financial support for a first recording with a record label or a concert performance broadcast on the Internet
The Academy will sponsor Fellows’ photography sessions, both studio portrait and in action.
The Education Department of the Philharmonie and the Orchestre de Paris organise numerous activities and projects for children, young people and amateur musicians. These are all opportunities for fellows to participate as conductors in educational and training activities. Fellows may be offered the opportunity to conduct “Family Concerts” as well as to prepare and conduct concerts involving amateur musicians.
Fellows can choose to be involved in the artistic, pedagogic and social work of the DEMOS project (Dispositif d’Education Musicale et Orchestrale à Vocation Sociale), offering under-privileged children throughout France the opportunity to make music in an orchestra. This project has developed exciting and effective new methods of learning and practice. Training in DEMOS educational techniques will be gained through joining dynamic work sessions led by experienced DEMOS conductors. Thus, fellows could be offered to conduct the advanced DEMOS orchestra in partnership with the Orchestre de Paris for a season as well as conduct regional DEMOS orchestras for up to three years.