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Valentine Michaud — John Williams’ “Escapades” with the City Light Symphony Orchestra (Prospero Classical, 2021)


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ISSN: 2792-8349

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International Journal of Music

You recently released a double CD set with the City Light Symphony Orchestra. Tell us about the project. Where did the idea come from, and what pieces can people hear you performing?

This is a very nice CD, and working with the City Light Symphony Orchestra was really terrific. They are based in Luzern and specialise in doing a lot of film music concerts. I got to know them because I played in one of their concerts previously. They asked me to play on this piece called Escapades (from Catch Me If You Can), which appears on their double CD set of John Williams music. It’s made up of pieces that are a little bit less well-known than Harry Potter or E.T., for example. The original sax player for this soundtrack was a jazz guy, so I went back and forth on whether I wanted to try to go for a jazz sound or something more classical. It didn’t feel authentic to do something that wasn’t me, so I think we kept its spirit but with a different sound. I also play on a track from the movie The Adventures of Tintin. It was actually my first experience doing a studio recording with an orchestra. I thought it would be very stressful, but it turned out to be more of a relaxed atmosphere.

What types of projects are you looking at for the future? If money or time were not a barrier, what would you most like to pursue?

Well, I don’t know if time or money can ever really be a barrier if you want something enough. You will find the time and the money! Right now, since I’m also teaching at the conservatory in Geneva, I have a comfortable income that helps to support my personal projects. Any time I have invested money into these things, I never regret it. It always pays off, and usually, it even pays back more. Even if I don’t make all the money back, I am paid back in artistic satisfaction. I plan to keep going with what I have been doing and trying my luck.

I do have a future project coming up with Emmanuel that will be even bigger than the last. It will be similar to a small opera, but this is a long-term project. We have to secure a commission, talk to a librettist, find the musicians, and find a venue. The idea is still forming, so once we nail down the concrete details, we will be able to take more steps forward. It will likely have lots of electronics and percussion. We also want to work with some augmented reality and video game designers. This would be a first for us. Of course, with the pandemic, we have discussed the possibility of live streaming, even though I prefer live performance. We want to do something more for the audience than just taking a video. We want to somehow involve the viewers and be interactive. This is a big topic and will take a lot of research and coordination. A lot of things are possible, but we need to consult some experts before we take any more steps forward.

I’m also working with my pianist now on pushing for commissions. We didn’t used to do this, but now we are focusing on this a lot. Right now, we are working on a cycle of lieder but for saxophone based around themes from a book by Mikhail Bulgakov called The Master and Margarita. The idea is to have a kaleidoscope of styles represented through different composers united by the themes from the book. It would be for any sax and keyboard and could even be expanded to some sort of stage work because of its connection to the text. We have three commissions already, but I think we will continue working on this for at least another two years.


Full Interview: “Classical Saxophone Is a Very Special Entity. You Have to Make It Interesting for Your Audience in Order to Be Successful”

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