Fayçal Karoui

Born in Paris in 1971, Fayçal Karoui obtained his first prize in orchestral conducting at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris and joined the advanced class. Winner of the “Aida” scholarship, he became Michel Plasson’s assistant at the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, a position he held until 2002. This collaboration led him to direct a large symphonic and lyrical repertoire. Musical Director of the Orchestre de Pau Pays de Béarn since 2002, he is unanimously praised for his remarkable work with this group. As soon as he arrived, he instilled a musical policy aimed at everyone and established demanding programs where new music systematically rubbed shoulders with the pillars of the repertoire. He gave this orchestra an ambition, brought the greatest soloists to Pau and responded to numerous invitations to festivals in France including Festival Présence, Festival de la côte Basque, International Festival of Sacred Music of Lourdes, La Folle Journée de Nantes and Tokyo, then in Spain, Italy, Morocco, Japan, Brazil and Tunisia. With the Orchestre de Pau Pays de Béarn, he has commissioned numerous works from the great composers of our time. He is thus dedicatee of many works by Guillaume Connesson, Pascal Zavaro and Nicolas Bacri.

He sets up a unique cultural policy aimed at audiences far from cultural systems by inventing with his team innovative concepts such as “the Orchestra takes its quarters”, “There’s a concert at the neighbour’s house”, or even the “Concert nightclub”. These projects were the subject of a documentary broadcast by France Télévisions in 2012. “What bridges must be invented to show that ‘music is not reserved for the rich, the elderly, the intellectuals and the urbanites’? Faycal Karoui plays with the wind. Only a prodigious artist’s generosity carries music beyond the walls” (Christian Seguin).

In 2006, Fayçal Karoui was appointed Musical Director of the prestigious New York City Ballet founded by George Balanchine, which he directed until 2012. His work has been hailed by the New York press, which is unanimously grateful to him for placing music at the centre of this prestigious ballet company. (A dedicated article in the New York Times lets it be known that the New York doors will always remain open to him.) He left the NYCB in 2012 to devote himself fully to his two French orchestras and his career as a conductor.

From 2012 to 2014, Fayçal Karoui succeeded the excellent Yutaka Sado at the head of the legendary Lamoureux Orchestra. From its first concert at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, the orchestra and its new musical director caused a sensation. Release title “Orchestre Lamoureux, happy music lovers”. Fayçal Karoui will decide to give back to the orchestra the identity that it had during its prestigious past by orienting its programming towards a specialization in the French repertoire. It programs all the great works that have been created by the orchestra throughout the 20th century, while renewing the tradition of commissions from French composers. With Fayçal Karoui at the helm, the orchestra is invited to the Folle Journée in Nantes and the Folle Journée in Tokyo. The management of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées also entrusted Fayçal Karoui with the musical direction of his production of Pénélope de Fauré in June 2013 with Roberto Alagna, Anna- Caterina Antonacci, Vincent Le Texier and Edwin Crossley-Mercer.

In March 2013, he was elevated to the rank of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres by the Minister of Culture and Communication. In July 2013, he conducted the Orchester National de Bordeaux Aquitaine and the Carmina Burana in front of more than 8,000 spectators at the prestigious Chorégies d’Orange Festival, which invited him back from the start for a Bernstein-Gershwin program in July 2016. In 2015, he won the prestigious artistic prize of the Simone and Cino del Duca Foundation, awarded by the Académie des Beaux-Arts of the Académie Française.

Fayçal Karoui has accompanied many soloists including Nicholas Angelich, Philippe Collard, Steven Hough, Paul Meyer, Alexandre Tharaud, Bertrand Chamayou, Frank Braley, Xavier Philips, Alexander Ghindin, Natalia Gutman, Nemanja Radulovic, Daishin Kashimoto, Nelson Freire, Gautier Capuçon, and lyrical artists like Françoise Pollet, Nora Gubisch, Patricia Petibon, Roberto Alagna.

He has been invited to conduct many orchestras such as the Orchestre de Paris, the Orchestre de l’Opéra National de Paris with which he frequently collaborates, the Orchestre National de France, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio-France, L’Orchestra Giuseppe Verdi of Milan, the Orchestra Accademia Santa Cecilia of Rome, the Chamber Orchestra of Lausanne, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège, the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hong-Kong Sinfonietta, the New Japan Philharmonic, the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra and the prestigious Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

In the continuity of its action of cultural democratization on the territory of Pau, he creates and develops an orchestra of young people mainly issued from neighbourhoods at the beginning. This program, entitled El Camino Pau, is a real success with families and children and today welcomes nearly 300 children from all the city, with the aim of collective learning of music and instrumental practice in an orchestra. This project, unique in the region and identified nationally, is the subject of a partnership with the Philharmonie de Paris.

In 2017, he celebrated his 15th year as musical director of the Orchestre de Pau Pays de Béarn, where he was unanimously praised for his remarkable work, which in particular quadrupled the number of subscribers to 2,167. Regularly conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra for ballets at the Staatsoper, he distinguished himself in 2019 in Amsterdam by conducting the Dutch Ballet Orchestra in a program entitled “Best of Balanchine”, and in Hong Kong where he conducted Le Swan lake as part of a anniversary program jointly celebrating 20 years of Sinfonietta and 40 years of Hong Kong ballet.

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