«All the world’s a stage.» Valentine Michaud, Winner of the Prix Credit Suisse Jeunes Solistes, on Music and Fashion

Valentine Michaud: Winner of the 2017 Prix Credit Suisse Jeunes Solistes

I’m very fascinated by the fact that you make your own clothes! I can imagine that there’s a link between music and fashion. Am I right?
In my opinion, fashion is just another way to express your character and feelings. The stage is probably the strongest link between the two of them. I think the concert is a special moment between the musician and the audience. People come all the way to my concert, and indeed I must offer them an elegant presentation! How I dress can be very classic, or more crazy, I would wear anything as long as it reflects myself and the music at the moment. Beyond the concert situation, as Shakespeare once said, «All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.» Therefore, your costume is an integral part of your life’s score!

I am fascinated by those theatrical productions. Like opera, drama theatre, or dance, fields in which the players take care of their appearance. It is part of the whole artistic result. To me the musician, as soon as he steps on stage, becomes an actor – of course, in a more abstract way, as plot and role playing don’t usually play a part in a concert (except in the case of singers of course). I would like to dig into this concept by creating an integrated, less traditional kind of performance. Multidisciplinary performances is a big field to be explored, maybe even more nowadays and especially as a saxophonist, as our «classical» recital repertoire is not so big.

Valentine Michaud © Gabrielle Besenval | This long fitted coat with wide fold-down collar is made by Valentine Michaud, a famous saxophonist.

I believe collaborating with dancers, actors, costume makers, or visual artists gives a different dimension to my work as a musician. It will definitely enrich my perception of performing on the stage. As a tailor, making costumes for stage is a transformation of expression. Not really so different from musicians expressing themselves through their instruments. It is to transcribe through your own creativity the music, ideas, characters, and drama into fabric.

Is there a common ground between the saxophone and a sewing machine?
It’s hard to say… I am far from being a professional tailor. It is more like a favorite hobby to me. I actually learnt it by myself so I’ve never really «played my scales» on the sewing machine… My audience so far has only been my family and friends! I guess the common ground between the saxophone and the sewing machine is patience, and the fact that both require good technique and good taste! (Actually, this applies to all kinds of art forms…). In any case, my saxophone and my sewing machine are equally capricious!

Have you ever thought about taking your sewing machine on stage and composing a piece with it and the saxophone? Maybe a «Duo for Saxophone and Sewing Machine»?
Up until now I haven’t… but since you mention it, I might start to think about this!

How does it feel to wear your own dresses during a concert? Do you feel more comfortable? Maybe it even helps against stage fright?
How I dress on stage definitely changes me mentally. Although I think the best medicine for curing stage fright is probably to be well prepared, wearing my own dress definitely makes me more confident! But until now I didn’t dare to challenge myself to make a long evening gown… I often come up with crazy ideas, but it is a huge effort to actually make one. I haven’t found time for that yet, but I am really looking forward to it. It is a unique feeling to wear your own clothes in daily life!

Interview conducted by Lea Arnet | Marketing Department, LUCERNE FESTIVAL

The French saxophonist Valentine Michaud is the winner of the 2017 Prix Credit Suisse Jeunes Solistes. The award includes not only a cash prize of 25,000 CHF but also the opportunity to perform in the Debut series at LUCERNE FESTIVAL: on 17 August Valentine Michaud will introduce Festival audiences to her artistry with a program of works for saxophone and piano by composers from Hindemith to Edison Denisov.

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