Culture | Baroque Music Festival returns for third edition

The Baroque Music Festival will return this year for its third edition, organizer Alliance Française de Macao (AF) said at a press conference yesterday, inviting three ensembles to play four dates between November 26 and December 2.

The free admission festival aims to integrate Baroque classical music with Chinese and Western architectural heritage in Macau, while also fulfilling the AF’s mission statement of bringing French language and culture abroad.

Macau is home to a number of Baroque-style, including St. Joseph’s Seminary and St. Dominic’s Church, and the Macau Military Club.

“Macau is very unique in Asia with all of its 18th century [architectural] heritage,” said AF board member David Rouault. “It is probably the place in Asia with the biggest [signs] of 17th and 18th century [European] architecture.”

Organizers had wanted to stage the concerts in Macau’s Baroque-style churches in line with the festival’s theme and purpose. However, a change of plan was warranted after Typhoon Hato damaged some of the properties and temporarily closed them to such events.

“Most of the concerts were supposed to be in churches [of the Baroque style], but since Typhoon Hato hit, some of them needed to be fixed and we couldn’t use those spaces,” said Rouault. “Most Baroque music was composed for religious purposes and so to have it [performed] in a church gives it a special flavor. It also makes sense because of the acoustics” and because of the meaning behind it.

For Rouault, appreciating culture should be a delight for all the senses.

As a musician, wine columnist and awarded sommelier, Rouault said yesterday that restricting the input to a single sense – sight or sound or taste – was detrimental to the overall experience.

“They are all related: the music, the art, the architecture and even the food,” he explained. “It is like having good food with good wine. If both pair well, it [accentuates] the flavors of both.”

With this in mind, Rouault also said that the festival inevitably promotes other aspects of Macau culture, with a particular reference to the city’s recent confirmation as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy.

The three performing groups at this year’s festival are Les Sacqueboutiers (Toulouse early brass ensemble), Stradivaria (Baroque Ensemble of Nantes), and the Women’s Choir of the Nice Opera with the String Quartet of the Nice Philharmonic Orchestra.

The primary sponsor of the event is the Macao Foundation, but the Baroque Music Festival also receives support from the Cultural Affairs Bureau and Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16. All four of the events are free for to the public to attend.

New AF director coming from Shanghai

THE NEW director of Alliance Française de Macao (AF) is likely to be William Bascaule from the Shanghai affiliate, a board member of the local association disclosed at a press conference yesterday for an upcoming Baroque Music Festival. Quizzed on who was set to take over the leadership position after Xavier Garnier stepped down in May, board member David Rouault confirmed Bascaule is currently the frontrunner, but is still waiting on a bluecard permit from the government. “We are very keen [on Bascaule] because he is very experienced, staying a long time in Shanghai,” said Rouault. “He sounds very promising.” Rouault said that there had been another candidate to become director, but that they had to pull out from the position in August for personal reasons. The former director, Garnier, stepped down in the summer after serving in the role for three years, citing “personal and family” reasons.

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