Clément Mao – Takacs is one of the young rising stars of the new generation of conductors.
He graduated from the Conservatoire Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and the Accademia Chigiana in Sienna, is a laureate of the Bayreuth Festival and in 2008 he was awarded the Prix « Jeune Talent » by the Fondation del Duca (Institut de France / Académie des Beaux-Arts). In 2013, he was the first conductor laureate of the Fondation Cziffra.
He started his career as conductor at a very early age –quite literally a calling– as he conducted his first concert at only 15 in Salle Gaveau (Paris). After completing his studies, he became Janos Komives’s assistant at the National Opera of Budapest (2002) and for several productions and recordings in France (2001-2003). He was then signed in by Gianluigi Gelmetti, musical director of the Roma Opera, and became his assistant for five years (2003-2008). In the same years he also became the musical director (2004-2010) of Orchestre Sérénade. He has been invited as a guest conductor by the Camerata Strumentale “Città di Pratro”, the Wind Ensemble of the CNSMDP, the Festival Orchestra of Sofia, the ensembles Aquilon and Initium. He recently started collaborating with Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. In late 2016, he will conduct the Orchestre de Bretagne and make his American debut in New York City with ICE Ensemble.
In 2011 he founded Secession Orchestra, in which he serves as both artistic and musical director. Immediately receiving critical accolades for its excellence and cohesion, Secession Orchestra has played several concerts in France and in Europe. Apart from its season of symphonic concerts in Paris, Secession Orchestra has also performed with actors Charles Berling, Didier Sandre, Antoine Duléry, Claude Jamain, Laurence Cordier, Julie Depardieu and Brigitte Fossey. In 2013/2014, Secession Orchestra premiered and toured in Europe the chamber version of La Passion de Simone (Kaija Saariaho) in the production of the collective La Chambre aux échos. Clément Mao – Takacs opened with his ensemble the 2015 edition of the Festival de Deauville with a critically acclaimed Webern/Wagner/Mahler triple-bill, and they will perform together in 2017 at the Auditorium du Louvre and the Festival Présences in Radio-France. Since 2014, they enjoy artistic residencies in both Fondation Singer-Polignac and Festival de Saint-Denis.
Clément Mao – Takacs’s technical craftsmanship, broad knowledge of the repertoire and artistic standards are unanimously acknowledged and appreciated, in both the classical and the contemporary repertoires, especially in the pivotal 1850-1950 period to which he has given much focus. He is the dedicatee and first performer of many works (Bargielski, Ballereau, Komives, Feldman, Sikorski, Svensson, Letouvet, Adams, Saariaho, Tarnanen, Stubbe-Tejbjaerg, Mu-Xuan Lin, Vincze, Ashton, Lang, Sciarrino, Koskinen…).
As a specialist of Kaija Saariaho’s music, he has conducted the world premiere and many national premieres of La Passion de Simone’s chamber version, in festivals such as Melos-Ethos (Bratislava – Slovakia), Codes (Lublin – Poland), the Festival de Saint-Denis and at the National Theatre of Clermont-Ferrand in France. He conducted it also in Copenhagen in 2016, alongside the iconic masterpiece Lichtbogen and the Danish premiere of the concerto Notes on Light, also programming on a regular basis other works by the same composer (Novalis Festival, BOZAR Opening Night). In 2016/2017, he will conduct her music in New York City and for Radio-France.
He conducts as enthusiastically and fondly the classical repertoire (Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms…) and his favourite period running from the end of the 19th century to the heart of the 20th (Mahler, Debussy, Ravel, Bartók, Strawinsky…). In all types and genres of music, he is most devoted to musical architecture, to the clarity of orchestral textures and to serving each composers’ musical world and style.
He also has a particular interest in cross-disciplinary encounters: with Noh dancer Claude Jamain, he has created a segment of his cycle THE MAHLER EXPERIENCE; with Korean visual artist Nam-Hong he crafted a performance blending contemporary art with shamanistic rituals as an event of the France-Korea Year. Always looking for new artistic forms, he likes bringing music in unprecedented frameworks and formats, such as the OPENING NIGHT of BOZAR in Brussels, for which he created a series of six concerts performed without interruption during a five-hour period and culminating in Transgressions, a concert thought of as a dialogue between an orchestra and electronic remixes that faded into a clubbing party.
The operatic repertoire is of utmost importance for this lover of literature and drama, who thinks of opera as a privileged setting for intense collaborations. His encounter with Peter Sellars was decisive, and he enjoys friendly collaborations with many actors and directors who operate in various aesthetics (Olivier Py, Michel Fau…), first and foremost Aleksi Barrière with whom he founded and runs the collective La Chambre aux échos.
Clément Mao-Takacs recently recorded Stockhausen’s Adieu (Crystal Classics) and a disc of Jacques Ibert’s music (Timpani) which was awarded ‘5 diapasons’ by DIAPASON magazine. He is currently preparing the creation of a new label that will allow radical and new recording projects…
Also a pianist (as a soloist and a chamber-music performer), he played in many festivals: Voix d’Automne (Fontainebleau, 2006), Archipel (Geneva, 2005), Passages (Warsaw, 2005), Exposer la musique vivante (Grand Palais, 2006), in Lower Navarre (2011), at the Villa Médicis (Rome), at La Péniche Opéra (Nuit de la Mélodie), at the Musée de Pont-Aven (Nuit des Musées 2007, 2008, 2011), at the Château de la Roche-Jagu (2009, 2010), in Saint Céré (2010), Nohant (2013), Étampes (2008, 2009, 2014)… In 2015 he performed alongside soprano Omo Bello for the “Rising Star” European Tour of recitals (Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Musikverein in Wien, Barbican Centre in Londres, Sage Gateshead in Newcastle, Cologne Philharmonie, Baden-Baden Philharmonie, Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, Konzerthus in Stockholm, Philharmonie de Paris, Town Hall of Brimingham, Gulbenkian Fondation in Lisbon, Casa de Musica in Porto…).
During the Liszt Year in France, he played many concerts (Bougival, Vincennes, Paris, Lille, Pont-Aven…) of this composer’s works and participated in the closing concert of the national celebration at the Hungarian Institute of Paris. Especially devoted to the defence and the recognition of musics termed ‘degenerate’ by the Nazi regime, he performed at the Lower Navarre Festival a recital titled “Voix étouffées” and a recital centred on Jewish mysticism (Carpentras, Cour de la Charité, 2010), reprised in 2012 in the Synagogue of Carpentras. As a recital performer, his broad repertory spans from virginal music to new works. A loving performer of Haydn, Liszt, Schumann, Wagner, Grieg and Debussy, he also aims at giving an audience to lesser known and performed works such as those of Hindemith, Schönberg, Webern, Sibelius, Milhaud, Bloch, Piriou, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Respighi…
As a composer, he writes for the orchestra and for the voice, especially song cycles for voice and one accompanying instrument, and works for choir. In the past few years he has composed many works for orchestra and ensemble and a chamber opera based on a play by Lorca; he recently finished a commission for solo viola. He has also developed his gift for orchestration by writing for very various instrumentations.
He considers the act of writing music as an on-going dialogue with figures that build up the ‘spiritual legacy’ with which each artist invents his personality, and this movement between past and present impels and nourishes his compositional work. He is fascinated by the riches and expressive multiplicity of folk music traditions, and is particularly inspired by poetry and visual arts, these many sources often providing a starting point to his fanciful imagination.
His most recent work, conceived as an evening-long recital for solo voice, OPHELIA / sequences & songs, was partly premiered in August 2015 by mezzo-soprano Marianne Seleskovitch. His upcoming premieres include two series of orchestra pieces, one of them written for Secession Orchestra.
Clément Mao – Takacs is the founder of many festivals: he started the student festival “Ici et Demain” which was later developed by the Mairie de Paris; he conceived and started in Chantilly the musical seasons of the Théâtre de la Faisanderie (“Musique au Potager des Princes”; the “Blé en herbe” Festival) and of the Grandes Écuries (“Les Concerts du Dôme”). He participates in such French national events as Le Printemps des Poètes and La Fête de la Musique, which he was acclaimed for renewing with his original projects. He programmed and performed five seasons of chamber music and many Nuits de la Poésie at the Sorbonne’s Amphithéâtre Richelieu.
In order to bring music into all places and spaces, he has organized many cultural events in working places, prisons and hospitals; being extremely active within the network of Parisian hospitals, he performed four seasons of chamber music at the Hôpital Vaugirard, and founded in 2009 a season of concerts, Les Musicales, at the Hôpital Bretonneau, all the concerts of which have been sold out for the past eight years.
As an active member of the Commémorations Nationales program, he performed in 2012 at the Ministère de la Culture; and as an expert in visual arts, he has worked with many museums, including in the framework of the Parisian Nuit des Musées. He has also commissioned various texts for concerts with recitation: these include Via Crucis, an aphoristic dramaturgy authored by Jean-Yves Clément to complement Franz Liszt’s music. He has also worked with many festivals as an artistic advisor and was the coordinator and programmer of the Université populaire devoted to classical and contemporary music at the Mairie du 18e arrondissement de Paris.
Since 2014 he is a resident musician and music programmer at the Mairie du 8e arrondissement with Secession Orchestra, and has recently been appointed artistic director of the festival which he has created for this Parisian district as a collaboration with elected representatives.
In 2016, he founded a new festival in Bretagne, in the city of Carnac, as a “paradigm” for the arts and their economy and an experimental endeavour on a regional scale, which will also allow the creation of a new hall for both symphonic and operatic performances.
Being particularly devoted to the renewal of the classical concert format, Clément Mao – Takacs has developed many projects based on cultural mediation and relocating music in all possible venues –hospitals, factories, prisons. His didactic abilities when presenting works during concerts have received accolades from such specialists of the field of musical pedagogy as Gilles Cantagrel, Brigitte François-Sappey and Emmanuel Rebeil, and are always warmly welcomed for their ability at filling the traditional gap between classical music and new audiences.
He was the instigator of the first Université populaire de la musique of the Mairie du 18e arrondissement, a cycle of concerts and conferences constructed on three themes (“Women in the realm of music”, “Folklores and cultural identities”, “A musical history of the 18e arrondissement”), committed to gathering specialists from various academic and artistic backgrounds in order to share knowledge by new means.
During each of his residencies, Clément Mao – Takacs has developed educational projects, mostly with musicians of Secession Orchestra: at the Festival de Saint-Denis (presenting in nearly 30 classes the life and work of philosopher Simone Weil in 2014; performing pedagogical concerts at the Philharmonie de Paris and the Légion d’Honneur in Saint-Denis in the framework of the MÉTIS Festival in 2016; the MICACO program in 2015 about folk and art music in the district of Seine-Saint-Denis), at the Fondation Singer-Polignac (educational projects at Lycée Montaigne, concerts for audiences with mental handicaps), at the Hôpital Vaugirard, at the Hôpital Bretonneau and at the Mairie du 8e arrondissement (workshops about the crafts of the orchestra and the conductor for primary school students)…
Through numerous workshops in educational contexts spanning from primary schools to universities, Clément Mao – Takacs stays in contact with the younger generation, its concerns and its expectations, and those of their teachers. These dialogues are an input to his on-going action to reinforce the links between education and culture –which he thinks of as both natural and fundamental– which he also promotes to political representatives in order to take new measures and secure the future of both musicians and new audiences. He has inspired many actions that have been supported by the French Parliament, the City of Paris, the Ministers of Culture and Educations and the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs: Opéra pour et par des enfants (a year-long project), Plaire et Instruire (a project for cultural awareness, adjustable to various contexts and teachers), Ateliers en musique (a rethinking of the codes of classical music in order to wipe out the clichés that surround it)…
Next to his musical activities, Clément Mao – Takacs has a M. Phil in comparative literature and is finishing a double doctorate in comparative literature and performing arts. He has authored various theses during his studies. He has conceived, revised and published with historian Michèle Friange (and with the support of the Archives de France / Mission Commémorations Nationales) the proceedings of the conference Pauline Viardot, une voix féminine dans l’Europe des Arts.
At the University of Lille, he was a teacher of History of Opera from 2010 to 2012 and lead a stage directing workshop. He participates in various conferences and seminars (INALCO, Sorbonne, ENS), debates (Académie de Meudon), performs concert-lectures and has taught for many years a class of comparative arts at the Association Philotechnique.
He wrote many articles for reviews such as Arts-Scènes and Tempus Perfectum, exhibition catalogues, introductory texts and program notes; his text Glenn Gould Variations was published by Éditions Momentum, and he is currently preparing two essays. He recently authored articles for the Dictionnaire du Bonheur, an upcoming publication of the CNRS (about Wagner, Mozart, Messiaen, Schumann and a synthetic text on ‘music and happiness’). He was commissioned a book about the music and life of Alban Berg by the Éditions Actes Sud.
Clément Mao – Takacs is a regular guest of radio broadcast programs and journalists of the printed musical press, and has developed a substantial network in the field of classical music media.