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Music floats in the air

Built by Bouygues Construction and operated by TF1, this magnificent vessel of culture on Île Seguin opened its doors to the public
in April 2017. We embark for a musical tour.
Ludmilla Intravaia
We’re going exploring!” Like a good many people whose curiosity has been piqued, on this sunny afternoon in April, Daniel and Danielle are going to have a closer look at La Seine Musicale, whose construction they have been following for two and a half years from the banks of Issy-les-Moulineaux. Looking across at the Île Seguin, just southwest of the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, this retired couple has watched as the imposing boat-shaped structure emerged on the Seine. Created at the instigation of the Council of the Hauts-de-Seine department, this extraordinary entertainment venue was inaugurated just two years and three months after the Philharmonie de Paris, also built by Bouygues Construction, in north-eastern Paris. Two days from its official inauguration on April 23, which will feature a concert by the resident ensemble, the Insula Orchestra, the teams are adding the final touches to the preparations, peeling the protective plastic off the brushed stainless steel of the exterior doorway, applying a final coat of anti-slip surfacing on the monumental staircase that leads to the garden and its superb view of Meudon’s wooded hillsides.
Did you know?
Some 300 construction workers, 55,000 hours of studies, 8 cranes, 45,000 m3 of concrete, 5,500 tons of steel and 18 months were needed to complete this project.
Sitting beneath the giant screen on the esplanade, the students in an orchestral class from Rueil-Malmaison enjoy a snack with their teachers after performing for visitors. Today is open house for the conservatories in the area. The 230-meter-long interior street – the building’s backbone, which will soon be lined with shops, cafés, and restaurants – echoes with the sounds of theater and musical performances. A meeting place for the public, it connects the six main units of La Seine Musicale: the Grand Seine (a concert hall with a seating capacity of 6,000), the 1,150-seat Auditorium, the event spaces, the Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine (the children’s choir of the Paris Opera), the recording and rehearsal studios, and the facilities for the resident orchestra.
Did you know?
Like an egg enveloped in a wooden and glass latticework, the Auditorium is covered with an 800 m2 sail constructed of photovoltaic panels. This rotating shell follows the path of the sun to supply the building with energy. “The sail of our ship, which catches the sun rather than the wind, is the symbol of our concern about the environment – a crucial issue of the twenty-first century,” says Shigeru Ban, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2014 and the project’s Japanese architect, who was assisted by Jean de Gastines.
In the Grande Seine, where concerts and musical comedies will be performed, a news team from TF1 is interviewing one of the project’s architects, the Frenchman Jean de Gastines. Meanwhile, the cleaning staff is busy going up and down the rows of seats, making sure everything is ready for the Bob Dylan concert on the following day. The jewel of this vessel, the Auditorium lined with mosaics and wood paneling, has been designed for the performance of all kinds of unamplified music, from string quartets and large choirs to solo voices and symphonic orchestras. For a few moments, the room leaves Maxime, who has come for the dress rehearsal of the Insula Orchestra, speechless. The musicians feel the same amazement as they board this ship for the first of many musical voyages.
A venue open to the public 5 days a week since April 2017
events per year
5 recording studios and 2 musical formations in residence: Insula Orchestra and La Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine
1 auditorium with 1,150 seats and 1 concert hall with 4,000 to 6,000 seats