Ooh lá lá! Everything’s coming up French Festival this month at Orchestra Hall (and The Cube) as the Detroit Symphony Orchestra kicks off almost three weeks of magnifique programming that will celebrate Gallic art, music and culture.
The DSO’s French Festival, running February 6-25, marks a thematic expansion of the organization’s previous winter events, which have, for the past four years, been focused on a single composer each year (Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and Mozart).
“I decided I wanted to do a country this year, and one that is not so well known for its symphonic repertoire,” DSO music director and conductor Leonard Slatkin said in a past interview. “The French didn’t write so many symphonies. For the most part, they wrote other kinds of music.”
But Slatkin knows from French classical music, having formerly worked as music director of the Orchestre National de Lyon for six seasons. And the esteemed conductor will take the podium for six different French Festival events: a concert showcasing the music of Maurice Ravel (February 8-9, with Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano) and another featuring Camille Saint-Saëns (February 10-11, with George Li, piano); a show titled “An American in Paris,” which will not only include George Gershwin’s seminal work, but also what could be viewed as its inverse, Darius Milhaud’s “A Frenchman in New York” (February 16, with Michelle and Christina Naughton, piano); “Carnival of the Animals,” which highlights Paul Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and more (Februrary 17-18, with Michelle and Christina Naughton, piano); Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique” (February 23-24, with Renaud Capuçon, violin); and Claude Debussy’s “Le Mer & Faun” (February 22-23, with Renaud Capuçon, violin).