Antoine Riboud and Patrick Bouchain envisioned the Grange au Lac as a completely new kind of concert hall, dreamed up by the imagination of the great Mstislav Rostropovich, whose performances would later bring it the space to life as part of the concert series Rencontres Musicales.
In 2014, the Quartet Modigliani ushered in a second incarnation of the Rencontres concert series, and the Grange au Lac quickly regained its audience and attracted brilliant artists once again. Much more than just a concert venue, the hall has become a veritable musical institution.
That the Victoires de la Musique Classique should come to this place to celebrate their 25th anniversary is highly symbolic, as it coincides with the Grange au Lac’s own 25th anniversary celebration. The exciting event also inaugurates the Grange au Lac’s annual programming, previewing the upcoming 2018/2019 season. Four times over the course of the year, a festival will take place that features concerts (in particular those presented by Léman’s Maison des Arts), recordings, artist residencies, and musical projects.
The Grange au Lac was born of a strong friendship between Antoine Riboud, then CEO of BSN (later Dannon) and the legendary cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. In Evian, the music-loving businessman created a classical music festival and offered its direction to his friend. Rostropovich transformed it into a major event in the musical life of France, and later of Europe. The Rencontres Musicales d’Évian thrived, becoming a not-to-be-missed meeting point for great artists.
25 years ago, Antoine Riboud decided to give the festival a new concert hall. Rostropovich had seen Menuhin’s tent concert hall at Gstaad, and dreamed of building one out of wood. It is this architectural and acoustical challenge that Riboud gave to the iconocalistic architect Patrick Bouchain…
With the help of acoustician Yaying Xu, Patrick Bouchain rose to the challenge of constructing this "wooden tent" of 1120 seats. He completed it in record timing (8 months), and despite considerable limitations (they were not allowed to dig into the rock protecting Evian’s spring or to cut down any trees), difficult conditions (a slanted plot of ground, winter months), and a small budget (10 million francs).
Inaugurated on May 20, 1993 by the Minister of Culture Jacques Toubon, the hall is almost entirely constructed out of cedar and pine, with an immense aluminum shell as a ceiling to ensure a perfect acoustic. La Grange resonates as beautifully as the inside of a cello, and behind the stage, birch panelling recalls the heritage of the cellist to whom the hall is dedicated. Mixing, luxurious crystal chandeliers with wooden risers, this ostensibly simple grange ("barn") is without a doubt one of the world’s most beautiful concert halls!
The closing concert of the 2018 edition also marks a new beginning with the establishment of the Grange au Lac's new orchestra! Over three days of rehearsals, the world-class musicians have come together under the baton of the great Esa-Pekka Salonen to tackle a program celebrating Europe at peace, from the horrors of war to the ideals of the Enlightenment.