William Christie Honored by the French Ministry of Culture

William Christie Honored by the French Ministry of Culture

With its 2018-2019, 40th-anniversary season on the horizon, Les Arts Florissants begins 2018 celebrating signal achievements for the organization and founder-conductor William Christie. On January 29, 2018, the new Fondation Les Arts Florissants-William Christie held its first board meeting, marking the official launch of the institution that will perpetuate William Christie's life's work in music and the art of gardens. The acclaimed Les Arts Florissants embraces performance, education, audience development, recording, and publishing. Christie's Thiré estate and gardens, and extended projects in the Vendée region of France, were recognized in 2017 as a Centre Culturel de Rencontre (Cultural Center). The Fondation unites all of Les Arts Florissants and Thiré's activities into a vibrant resource for future generations.

The Fondation - incorporating an international music organization and a French heritage site - is the first of its kind in France. Its creation was authorized by the French government in November 2017 and certified the government's recognition of Les Arts' collective endeavors as beneficial to the French public (fondation d'utilité publique). Along with sustaining an important heritage site, the unique legal entity will oversee all of the artistic, educational, and public outreach activities of Les Arts Florissants, and the preservation and management of assets - from Thiré's buildings and acclaimed gardens to Les Arts' numerous recordings and publications. Christie's gift of his entire Thiré estate, as well as several houses and land in the village, was the crucial step to the Fondation's establishment.

Further recognizing Maestro Christie and Les Arts Florissants' contributions to French culture, on February 7, 2018, the French Ministry of Culture honored William Christie, through the auspices of the Bureau d'Export de la Musique Française, as an ambassador for French culture around the world.

Commenting on the official launch of the Fondation, Christie said, "Almost 40 years ago, a group of friends and I founded Les Arts Florissants to rediscover and perform the magnificent French Baroque repertoire. During that time, I've achieved another of my lifetime dreams in the Vendée: creating a unique garden around my 17th-century house, which has become the setting for Dans les Jardins de William Christie and our Spring Festival. It was time to put Les Arts Florissants on a firm footing and secure the future of all these endeavors for new generations of artists and audiences, and the establishment of Fondation Les Arts Florissants-William Christie does exactly that. I thank our wonderful donors and patrons for their visionary support of this new and great adventure."

An initial endowment was required for the creation of the Fondation and it now exceeds €1.7 million thanks to William Christie's gifting of his estate, and to generous donations from supporters including American Friends of Les Arts Florissants, and European Friends. The project also received funding from the Région Pays de la Loire, the Département de la Vendée, and the Commune de Thiré. A major fundraising campaign is underway to further the Fondation's mission, including continuing the restoration and expansion of sites in Thiré to better serve artists, educators, and the public. Support can be made through American Friends of Les Arts Florissants.

The schedule of upcoming Les Arts Florissants performances can be found here. William Christie will lead the Ensemble in Haydn's The Creation at Alice Tully Hall as part of Lincoln Center's Great Performers series, on November 15, 2018.

One of the world's best-known and most respected music ensembles, Les Arts Florissants, founded by William Christie in 1979, has been hailed for its revitalization and performance of Baroque music, in particular French repertoire. It is also recognized for its prestigious training and young artist programs, including its international academy Le Jardin des Voix, Arts Flo Juniors mentorship, youth and adult audience outreach, and extensive published resources, including a free, online, multimedia collection. Under Founding Conductor and Music Director William Christie, and Associate Conductor and Associate Music Director Paul Agnew, Les Arts Florissants performs some 100 concerts annually at home, in France, and abroad. It also has artistic residencies in France at both the prestigious Philharmonie de Paris and in Thiré (Vendée, Pays de la Loire), where Le Jardin des Voix has been in permanent residence since 2017, and internationally through William Christie's long-standing partnership with The Juilliard School.

Directed by William Christie and Paul Agnew, Le Jardin des Voix provides an outstanding opportunity to young classical singers starting their careers. Founded in 2002, the biennial academy has become an exceptional incubator of international talent. After three weeks of intensive training, the finalists perform a concert program that tours the globe. Laureates of Le Jardin des Voix have gone on to prestigious international careers, with many returning regularly as guest artists with Les Arts Florissants.

William Christie's partnership with The Juilliard School began in 2007. He is an artist-in-residence and each year leads master classes and conducts the advanced student performance ensemble Juilliard415. Students of the Juilliard Historical Performance program have been selected to take part in the Dans les Jardins de William Christie summer festival to work alongside the musicians of Les Arts Florissants.

Launched in 2008, Arts Flo Juniors is an annual program offering a first professional experience to students nearing the completion of their conservatory training. Students join the chorus and the orchestra of Les Arts Florissants for the duration of a production, and are mentored by members of the Ensemble.

Les Arts Florissants offers a range of educational and outreach activities for diverse audiences, with a particular emphasis on building future generations of concertgoers. Annual programs include a school outreach program (workshops, class presentations) in the Île-de-France and the Vendée; the Baroque LIVE program, an opportunity for teens with limited exposure to classical music to discover live Baroque music; and workshops and participatory concerts tailored to families.

Since its founding, Les Arts Florissants has published and recorded a unique collection of Baroque music - a rich repository for accessing this newly revitalized repertoire. Materials are available in a variety of formats: scores, CDs and DVDs (the Les Arts Florissants collection on the harmonia mundi label), and a catalogue of online resources.

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