Fifth annual winter music festival will celebrate the music and culture of France, including six Orchestra Hall concerts conducted by Music Director Leonard Slatkin

“Le Max” (Midtown Detroit’s Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center) will buzz with additional special events, unique food and drink options, and Gallic spirit

French Festival is sponsored by Varnum LLP

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) is très excité to present a French Festival from February 6-25. For three weeks, the orchestra will celebrate French music and culture through 22 concerts and events, anchored by six DSO programs in Orchestra Hall led by Music Director Leonard Slatkin. This is the DSO’s fifth annual winter music festival and the first to focus on a country and culture rather than a specific composer. Previous festivals have celebrated the music of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, and Mozart.

DSO concerts in Orchestra Hall—rich with French classical music highlights—include an all-Ravel program (featuring the Pavane for a Dead Princess, Daphnis and Chloe suite, and more), an all-Saint-Saëns program (featuring the Danse Macabre, Piano Concerto No. 2, and more), and a program pairing Gershwin’s An American in Paris with Milhaud’s A Frenchman in New York, as well as performances of Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Debussy’s La Mer, and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. Guest soloists throughout the three weeks will be violinist Renaud Capuçon and pianists Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, George Li, and Christina and Michelle Naughton.

Across from Orchestra Hall, the Peter D. and Julie F. Cummings Cube will offer curated, urban, boundless experiences in a French style—including Om @ Le Max (a yoga session set to live music), Le Ciné Cube (free screenings of French film shorts with live musical accompaniment, plus the1986 American-French jazz drama Round Midnight), and more. Intimate performances by cabaret singer Cyrille Aimée (on Valentine’s Day), accordion and bandoneón wizard Julien Labro, and French Afropop phenoms Les Nubians with DJ Cambeaux bring genre-bending twists to the Festival schedule.

There’s also a scholar-in-residence (Steven Whiting, Professor of Musicology at the University of Michigan), a wine tasting event featuring rare French wines paired with live music, a chamber music performance at the Steinway Piano Gallery in Commerce Township, and food and drink specials in the Salon du Paradis (formerly the Paradise Lounge). The festival will close with a special Wu Family Academy Showcase featuring performances of French music by the DSO’s Civic Youth Ensembles, including the Detroit Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Six French Festival concerts (one performance of each Orchestra Hall program) will be webcast for free at dso.org/live and via Facebook Live, as part of the DSO’s groundbreaking Live from Orchestra Hall series. The series is presented by Ford Motor Company Fund and made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.


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