Contemporary creation in Royan

From 1964 to 1977, Royan chose the way of contemporary artistic creation, winning the attention of the French and international music world, the French television, the media and the public for a week each year, with the support of André Malraux and his Ministry. From Xenakis to Messiaen, via Boulez, Cage, Méfano, Stockhausen, Berio, Ferrari, Parmegiani and many others, a number of composers, as well as performers, dancers and choreographers, have made the Royan International Festival of Contemporary Art one of the world’s leading venues for musical creation over the last fourteen years.


© Souchard (Ville de Royan)

In addition to the Casino municipal which hosted most of the concerts and events, the Notre-Dame church, just rebuilt after the war by the architect Guillaume Gillet and which nothing predisposed to a musical function, constituted a high place of creation of the Festival, marking the history of major events.

In the manner of Messiaen, whose piano competition propelled many talents (Michel Béroff to name but one, and not the least!), the idea of a composition competition in such a place is not entirely coincidental.

And if the Ars Nova ensemble has performed in three editions of the Festival under the direction of its founder and composer Marius Constant, would it not be a fitting return to its roots to entrust the necessary creations of the competition to this instrumental ensemble, as a sort of da capo, rather than a coda? Forty-five years later, the Boisseau organ, freshly renovated, is ready to make its concrete case vibrate again to the sounds of the musical creation of our time.

Emmanuelle Piaud, titular of the instrument, and the Association des amis des Orgues de Notre-Dame de Royan (ADOR), after having created a season of concerts called ROYAN-ORGUES in 2020, wish that this instrument continues to inspire composers and support contemporary creation.

This challenge needs to be led by an open-minded and talented conductor, able to unite and share his passion for contemporary creation with the public.

Jérôme Pillement, conductor of the Festival Un Violon sur le Sable, who conducted, among others, the creation of the opera Teresa by a certain… Marius Constant (!) will conduct the instrumental ensemble of the competition.


@ Jérôme Pillement

Great Boisseau organ of Notre-Dame

The great organ of the church of Notre-Dame de Royan, built from 1962 to 1964 and completed from 1964 to 1984, is without doubt the masterpiece of the organ builder Robert Boisseau.

Classified as a historical monument in January 2006, it was the first instrument built in the 20th century based on the fundamental criteria of classical organ building. It is one of the triggers of an aesthetic turning point, witnessing the renewal of organ building in France.

The most important instrument in the Charente-Maritime department, it is considered one of the most beautiful organs in France.

In 1964 the instrument took part in the first edition of what was to become the International Festival of Contemporary Art, which contributed greatly to its fame.

After a major restoration by the organ-building workshop “Béthines les orgues” (Jean-Baptiste Boisseau and Jean-Marie Gaborit) from 2014 to 2018, it has regained its place as a flagship instrument of local cultural life. Since 2019, it has been played by many concert artists, including Thierry Escaich, François Espinasse, Sophie Véronique Cauchefer-Choplin, Yves Castagnet, Jean-Pierre Leguay, etc. All praise the quality of the restoration and the great potential of such an instrument in the contemporary cultural landscape.


© Stéfanie Molter – ensemble Ars Nova