Interview: Olivier Calmel’s residency with Paris Brass Band

As announced for the first concert of the season, the Paris Brass Band will be lucky to work during all the season with a famous composer: Olivier Calmel. The Com department contacted him to have an interview to know him better and have some details on the brand new sponsorship.

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Com : Hello Olivier. For those that wouldn’t know you, can you describe yourself in few words?

Olivier Calmel : I was born in a family full of musicians. So, early in my life, I tried to create a musical identity. I started to develop my aesthetic as a self-educated passionate before joining classes in harmony, counterpoint, fugue and orchestration in Paris. I am a composer and a pianist, and I try to split my time between composing and orchestrating movie soundtracks, pieces for contemporary orchestras, jazz …

Com : How would you describe your work, your aesthetic as composer?

Olivier Calmel : Well, I shouldn’t be the one to talk about that but to be short, I would say that I get influenced by jazz music, from the 50’s to our days, and by popular music in general, with artists such as Prince, Maceo Parker, Groove Collective, Maze, LEvel 42 and much more, as well as by essential works from Ravel, Debussy, Bartok, Stravinsky, Krzysztof Penderecki, Reich, Adams or Herrmann and Williams…

Com: What do you think about Brass Band, and the movement in France that started to really grow few years ago?

Olivier Calmel : Brass band is an extremely rich and bright style, with specificities that are not yet renowned or exploited yet in France. The movement is clearly in development and the interest comes from musicians as well as from the public. But there are still few composers that seem interested in working for this type of orchestra. The reason for this situation seems complex but I think that it’s mainly because the specificities of brass band sound is quite unknown and even underestimated. In harmony or orchestration classes, it is still taught that the main type of orchestra, the only one a composer could fully express his music is the symphonic orchestra. We study string quartet, work on the orchestration of main compositions but sadly, we learn a little about composing for wind and even less for brass. I think there are beautiful colors and many possibilities for brass bands. I personally started to write for wind orchestras before getting interested in brass bands, initially with Brassage Brass Band.

Com: How did you find out about PBB?

Olivier Calmel : I have known the PBB for a long time now, since I started to compose for brass bands so I’d say for a couple of years. This year, I received an order from Bastien Baumet, principal euphonium for the PBB, for a Concerto. He asked for a first version for euphonium solo and brass band to play it with Paris Brass Band.

Com : So what does it mean for this season to be in a residency with Paris Brass Band?

Olivier Calmel : At the beginning, I proposed to the director of music some pieces: the concerto for euphonium and brass band for Bastien Baumet, a choral to develop the warm colors of brass bands sound, and a symphony in two movements. I was also asked to compose an opening and a final piece exploiting both solo and collective virtuosity. Obviously, there are also some other projects but we will keep it a secret as for now!

Com : What can we wish for you and us now?

Olivier Calmel : I think the residency is a great opportunity to start to know each other, to try to push our personal and collective limits and widen our perspectives. It’s mainly about sharing, discover and create new repertoire for brass. So we can wish each other to spend some beautiful moments together, as humans as well as musicians!

We can consider that the year will be full of great moments, for us PBB as well as for the French community of brass band. Thank you Olivier!

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