Created in 1985, the Orchestre de Picardie (Picardie Orchestra) is unique in its class in France. After Alexandre Myrat, Patrick Fournillier, Louis Langrée, Edmon Colomer and Pascal Verrot, Arie van Beek became its artistic and musical director in January 2011.
As part of its public service mission, this Mannheim-type orchestra of 37 musicians performs more than 100 concerts each year, together with some 50-odd other activities. From classical and romantic symphonies to contemporary music, from chamber pieces to concertos, the Orchestre de Picardie plays a variety of repertoires. It also invites young talents and well-known soloists to participate.
The Orchestra’s identity is anchored in its region, and it sets great store by its neighbourhood relationships with all of its different audiences throughout Picardie. It therefore implements novel programmes, including residences at specific sites, or in special areas, cities, or groups of villages. It offers middle- and high-school students a discovery-tour through the “Four Days with the Orchestra” programme, and “Music on Campus” introduces students to the basic milestones of chamber music. A new partnership with the regional conservatory of Amiens has begun a cycle entitled “Meet the …”, where instrumental students discover the soloist’s work with the orchestra.
In 2003, the Orchestre de Picardie created a European orchestra network, called ONE, an Orchestra Network for Europe®, which supports projects throughout the European Union. Since 2005, the European Commission Culture Programme has provided funding for this network, which is coordinated by the Orchestra. ONE’s principal objectives are intercultural dialogue, the mobility of artists and their works, the promotion of young artists, and their integration in the world of professional musicians. Its work in this network, its foreign tours and its participation in well-known festivals (La Folle Journée de Nantes, the Festival des Forêts de Compiègne, Saint-Riquier, Classique au vert) help make the Orchestre de Picardie a special ambassador of the region.
The Orchestra has made numerous recordings, most for the Calliope label. It received the Académie du Disque Lyrique’s Orphée d’Or for its rare recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti. In 2012, the Orchestre de Picardie will record Nathaniel Mechaly’s original music for the Théâtre de Chaillot’s production of the ballet Peau d’Âne (Donkey-skin), choreographed by Emilio Calcagno.
The Orchestra’s operatic activity has become increasingly important. Since 1994, a collaboration with the Royaumont Foundation has helped young professionals gain experience and exposure. In this framework, they recently presented Charles Gounod’s Médecin malgré lui at the Royal Opera House of Versailles, conducted by Pascal Verrot. Since 2004, a fruitful partnership has linked the Orchestre de Picardie with the Lille Opera. After Don Giovanni, Madame Butterfly, the Magic Flute, l’Italiana in Algeri, Mahagonny, Eugene Onegin, and l’Élixir d’Amour, the Orchestra participated in October, 2011, in a new production of Stravinsky’s Rake’s Progress in Lille, conducted by Arie van Beek.