All for music
More and more employees are getting together to make music as part of company life. In France, the Organisation de la Musique en Entreprise (OME) now has more than 300 increasingly successful corporate choirs among its membership. Amateur choirs and orchestras are springing up right across the business spectrum, from major corporate groups to SMEs. Some employees are returning to playing music after some time off, while others are complete beginners.
But everyone agrees that singing and making music together is a sharing experience that reaffirms the importance of collective effort and pleasure. Hierarchical barriers and differences fall away as music soothes the senses and brings people together. It also encourages listening and paying attention to others, mutual support, concentration, creativity and emotional release... All essential qualities for successful corporate life. At Societe Generale, healthy competition in musical performance is as intense as ever.
Since the first concert at the Salle Pleyel in 2013, the Playing for Philharmonie de Paris initiative launched by Group Head of Human Resources and Communication, Caroline Guillaumin, has enabled more than a thousand employees to express their passion for music alongside professional musicians. For the fourth concert last December, 350 amateur instrumentalists and choral singers — all employees of the bank in France, Romania and Senegal — gave three concerts, including a public performance at the Philharmonie de Paris. So who were their on-stage partners? Musicians from the orchestra Les Siècles, singers from professional choir Les Métaboles and a group of 22 young musicians from the Démos orchestras*! Under the baton of conductor François-Xavier Roth, one of the most talented conductors of his generation (see opposite), they played music by Rossini, Berlioz, Enescu and others.
(*) Mécénat Musical Societe Generale is the lead patron of Les Siècles and les Métaboles, and the founding patron of Démos (Dispositif d'éducation musicale et orchestrale à vocation sociale), a cultural access project for children built around orchestral music performance initiated and coordinated by the Cité de a Musique-Philharmonie de Paris.
The initiative has proved so successful that an annual selection process is now needed to cope with the volume of applications. Hopefuls must succeed in a vocal range test to establish where in the choir singers will be placed for particular programmes, and submit a cover letter. Successful applicants can then look forward to a marathon effort of fourteen to fifteen months of rehearsals from noon to 2pm once a fortnight, ramped up to include full weekends as the concert date approaches, plus — of course — practicing at home. The dynamic generated by Playing for Philharmonie de Paris continues to spread throughout the company, both regionally and internationally. And preparations for the fifth concert are already underway!
François-Xavier Roth founded Les Siècles, the first French orchestra to play works from the 17th to the 21st century on appropriate historical and modern instruments.
He is also the Generalmusikdirektor for the City of Cologne and Artistic Director of its Gürzenich Orchestra and Opera (Oper Köln), and Principal Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO).