Laurent Bayle was Managing Director of Cité de la Musique - Philharmonie de Paris from 2001 to October 2021.
Societe Generale, as a patron, and the Cité de la Musique, to which I have devoted myself for twenty years, have a long shared history, marked by parallel developments and a similarity of perspective which has been reaffirmed over time. When the Cité de la Musique took over the Salle Pleyel in the mid-2000s, with Societe Generale as its main sponsor, the notion of a prestigious venue, shining an international spotlight on the groups it hosted, was predominant. When, ten years later, Societe Generale supported us ‒ as one of the very first private patrons ‒ in creating the Philharmonie de Paris and then in ensuring its growth, it was mainly the notions of emergence and transmission that brought us closer together. The emergence of new ensembles in new musical territories, in particular by supporting new generations of artists, as Societe Generale’s patronage has been doing for decades. Transmission to new audiences, which was facilitated by the Philharmonie’s establishment in a working-class district in eastern Paris, which was not at all obvious when the project was launched.
This partnership was further strengthened when it was extended to the Démos children’s orchestras, born in the bosom of the Cité de la Musique and deployed today in many territories in France. The virtue of such approaches is less to train musicians than to help in the training of citizens, knowing that the collective practice of music helps children who did not grow up in a favourable setting to reconnect with their environment: the child who is in a downward spiral sees that, like his friends, he is able to achieve concrete things, in a composite world where he can find his place. An orchestra, when the educator has succeeded in cultivating high standards and a form of elevation, can “reclaim” a child who is removed from all commitments, whereas it is much more difficult in the school environment.
In this regard, I find it valuable to explore, as the Societe Generale Foundation does, the overlaps between education through music and education through sport. Both help cultivate the values of the group while respecting the individual’s space. We can therefore imagine forms of correspondence ‒ as Démos did, for example, with child musicians sponsored by players on the French national handball team, during interactive days co-organised with the French Handball Federation. It just goes to show that the worlds of music and sport are much closer than they appear!
I find it valuable to explore, as the Societe Generale Foundation does, the overlaps between education through music and education through sport. Both help cultivate the values of the group while respecting the individual’s space.