Pianist Tal Walker graduated from the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp in 2016. He also studied at the Conservatorium Maastricht (the Netherlands), and at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris (France). Born in Israel, he lives in Antwerp since 2014. This is how this story goes.
“Coming-up with the concept was a long process. Having done two years ago a similar project around Chopin for my “creative final master project” at the conservatory of Antwerp, I felt the need to try something new in a larger scale. After my graduation, I took the standard path of teaching, participating in competitions, and continuing my piano studies in Paris. I decided that in order to do something out of the “normal” path I would like to engage in a project that I am really passionate about – French music.
After consulting with my former and current teachers (Avi Schönfeld, Eliane Rodrigues and Françoise Thinat) I eventually came up with my own idea that was somewhat similar to the final program. In order to choose the right artists for the concerts, it had to be a combination of high quality artists who perform and specialize in French music, but also people who share my enthusiasm for the concept and personally give me the comfort and support in experimenting with a unique idea. I was very happy to find out that the overall programming, which consists of top artists, also turned out to be very diverse (gender, nationality, age etc.).”
The concept was born: ‘Monsieur Croche’
“Monsieur Croche is a new concert series in Antwerp. It's dedicated to French music, as an homage to the 100th year anniversary of Debussy's death. The title “Monsieur Croche” is in fact Debussy's pseudonym at the time when he was writing music critique. The concerts aim to take the audience on a journey through French music of the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. It focuses on four composers. Next to Debussy, we will present Fauré, Ravel, and Poulenc. Composers who preceded him, who was his contemporary and who followed him.
The audience's journey is not only metaphorical, but also literally a journey through the old city of Antwerp. Each concert is taking place in a different unique location in the city: Art Gallery - De Zwarte Panter; Maagdenhuis Museum; Art Gallery – Valerie Traan; and the Sint Joriskerk Cathedral. The idea was to give the concert an interdisciplinary feeling by placing them in special artistic locations throughout the city. The concerts' presentation will also be interdisciplinary since the narrator (Sam Verlinden) will guide the audience through Debussy's writings, literature, poetry and other biographical anecdotes.”
A few more challenges to overcome
“Now came the tricky part. How to make it happen? I was lucky enough to have a good friend who also specializes in cultural management and production (Gabriel Nahoum). We decided to collaborate in order to execute my idea: him as the producer, me as the artistic director. Together we opened a non-profit organization, and everything which it involves (bank account, applications for subsidies, setting a budget, etc).
Finding the right locations was also not easy. It had to be locations that fit to our concept, who have a space which is big enough to fit a small concert, and that would agree to host a concert. It started going door to door to understand what is the mood. There were not few rejections to the idea of hosting a concert in an art gallery. Luckily, there were some that found the idea appealing and from one to another, as a domino effect, eventually we found the perfect locations.”
Finding new audience means to enter new paths
“We decided that this project should have a social impact. We want to attract a young audience, which means using all of the tools in social networks to promote ourselves and keeping the ticket price relatively low. Another idea was to allow young students the opportunity to participate in free master classes, without having to pay. In order to achieve these goals we have decided to open a crowd-funding campaign. The campaign was eventually successful with some luck and after a lot of hard work – many emails, many phone calls, meetings and endless of posts in social network.”
The future is ours
“We, from Monsieur Croche, are hoping to have four successful and enjoyable concerts with artistically high quality. We are already having in mind ideas for the second edition, hopefully establishing Monsieur Croche as a festival for classical music in Antwerp. We want to keep it young, relevant, and actual while continuing a long and respectful tradition of music making.”
Follow us on the social networks