Bruno Mantovani on his commission for the Louvre Abu Dhabi pre-opening

Bruno Mantovani, one of France’s renowned contemporary composers and current head of the Paris Conservatory, talks us through his commission for the Louvre Abu Dhabi pre-opening.

Bruno Mantovani, one of France’s renowned contemporary composers and current head of the Paris Conservatory, talks us through his commission for the Louvre Abu Dhabi pre-opening.

Titled Once Upon a Time, the performance will feature cellist Gautier Capuçon as soloist.

“I have often composed works inspired by architectural masterpieces, but it is the first time in my life that I have written for the opening of a building – one that I have been able to see models of only, which was unfinished at the moment I have been composing, and moreover a building located in a country where I have never been. It is thus a unique experience for me, that stimulates my imagination, since music becomes the metaphor of a project, not of an object.

“I have always been very attracted to eastern music, most of all to its ornaments and melodies. It is not about quoting or copying excerpts, but about giving my personal interpretation and vision of this repertoire.

"Besides this geographical and musical colour, what is at stake here is composing for a museum – a place that concentrates and scrambles temporalities. "There, works of the past are exhibited for visitors of the present who experience impressions and emotions for the future. This feeling of permanency and continuity inspired me for this piece called Once Upon a Time.

“In a single tempo, something new for me, the music evolves by uniting more than opposing – a cello and an orchestra that are both telling a story made of flashbacks and memory games. It aims at finding a compromise between an ensemble with strong historical connotations and such an unusual place of performance.

“This project is thus quite experimental for me. It does not endeavour to match a particular audience – but tries to unite two musical worlds, two inspirations, in the same creative breath.”

rgarratt@thenational.ae