Le Balcon was founded in 2008 by six students from the Paris Conservatoire and brings together an ensemble of instrumentalists and singers trained in various styles. Le Balcon adapts to its projects and concerts, not least the number of members, as well as the visual concept and its interaction with sound design and electronic music. Founding members are : musical director Maxime Pascal, sound engineer Florent Derex, composers Juan-Pablo Carreño, Mathieu Costecalde and Pedro Garcia-Velasquez and pianist and conductor Alphonse Cemin.
The ensemble is named after the 1956 play by Jean Genet, which places the ensemble’s artistic and musical projects, much like the playwright, in the area of narration, language and representation.
The ensemble was initially located at the Église Saint-Merry, followed by the Théâtre de l’Athénée Louis-Jouvet, and gradually became a transdisciplinary collective — an orchestra, a group of singers, composers, video artists, dancers and directors — as well as a record label and music publisher. Le Balcon creates productions from a repertoire spanning all eras of music history, with a particular focus on works from the 20th and 21st centuries. In its seven years at the Athénée Théâtre, Le Balcon produced numerous operas and plays, including Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos, Eötvös’s Le Balcon, Levinas’s La Métamorphose, Rihm’s Jakob Lenz and numerous world premieres.
In 2018 Le Balcon began to turn to larger forms, including a production of Licht, Stockhausen’s cycle of seven operas spanning 29 hours of music. Donnerstag from Licht had its premiere at the Opéra Comique in 2018 and was revived at Southbank Centre in London. This was followed by Samstag from Licht in June 2019 and Dienstag from Licht in October 2020 at the Philharmonie in Paris as part of the Festival d’Automne.
The ensemble has worked with the composer in residence funded by the Singer-Polignac Foundation since 2018 and has commissioned a number of new works.
Future projects include new operas – Freitag aus Licht (Stockhausen, 1995), Jakob Lenz (Rihm, 1978), as well as a new production of Alan Menken’s Little Shop of Horrors (1982) and a new record of Gustav Mahler’s Song of the Earth arranged by Arnold Schönberg.
Le Balcon is supported by the Ministry of Culture, the Société Générale Foundation C’est Vous l’Avenir, the Île-de-France Region, the City of Paris, the Singer-Polignac Foundation, the SACEM and La Copie Privée.