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Y160922©StudioPONANT-Adrien MORLENT

Renaud Capuçon and Alain Duault

When music and cruising strike the perfect harmony

PONANT cruises always offer plenty of surprises and unexpected discoveries. Sometimes, those surprises are of the musical variety thanks to the concerts organised by musicologist Alain Duault. These experiences feature prestigious guests, who join travellers on their journey. Let’s meet Alain and violinist Renaud Capuçon to get a sense of how these special occasions have felt for them, with the sound of the sea providing a beautiful accompaniment to some outstanding music.

Renaud Capuçon, is playing music out at sea a different experience?

RC: It’s pretty amazing! It’s the first time I’ve been on this absolutely magical ship and obviously the inspiration is very different from when you play in a traditional concert hall. We’re lucky to be way out at sea and have an absolutely stunning environment all around us. And we artists and musicians are extremely sensitive to this kind of thing.

AD: On board the ship, the music has a distinct flavour to it – a kind of personal connection. The audience feels like they are experiencing it with the artists, because we have a small, intimate auditorium with barely 200 seats. Because the artists are right in front of the audience, it feels like they’re playing just for them!

Alain, you regularly come aboard our ships. What do you particularly like about the experience?

AD: Meeting the passengers. I work in the media, but here we get to see who we’re working for, so the connection is much more personal. It’s an exciting kind of dialogue that gives you a chance to listen to the audience. Someone asked me three years ago about holding a festival exclusively for singers. That’s how the first lyrical festival at sea came about, which is due to take place in October.

croisière musicale et musique en mer avec Ponant

RC: I had never been on a musical cruise or a cruise of any kind in fact, and I was a bit apprehensive about mixing in with a crowd of people. As it turned out, it was a very rewarding experience! It was truly enjoyable and there was a really welcoming audience, who were very attentive during the concerts and very respectful when we had to concentrate and rehearse. There was a lot of respect and friendliness on both sides. 

AD: Ponant ships are also outstanding in terms of hospitality and destinations. You can sail around the world, including to places where other cruise ships don’t go. That flexibility is a big plus!

What is your most memorable career experience?

RC: So many things have left their mark on me during my time as a musician and continue to fascinate me to this day! The various things I’ve discovered along the way would be a key experience including, for instance, being on this ship for days at a time, sailing on the sea while playing Brahms, Schubert and Fauré. It’s just incredible. But some of the musicians I’ve met have also been an important part of my career and something I’ll continue to seek out, as well as some of the truly wonderful concert halls I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. When you’re a musician, you’re constantly looking for the ultimate experience. I think the more you look, the more you get. And I hope there’s still plenty more to come!

croisière musicale et musique en mer avec Ponant

AD: Personally, I remember my very first piano festival at sea, which featured the brilliant Russian pianist Nicolai Lugansky. I’d managed to secure him his first television appearance in France and was able to maintain a good connection with him. I called him in Moscow to tell him that I was launching this festival and that I wanted him to come. We worked on finding the right dates, he showed up and his wife thanked me when we were all on the ship. It turned out that she hadn’t spent a full week with her husband for five years! He’s constantly travelling the world! So that’s a great memory. Another was when we had the Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire on board, who was the world’s greatest international pianist at the time. The negotiations were complicated and went on for three or four years, but eventually Nelson put on a concert that thrilled not just the audience but also himself, even though he’d been slightly reluctant to participate. He was absolutely delighted. He even wanted to come back. Very sadly, he was killed in an accident in Rio not long after. So he gave his final concert on board Bougainville.

Photos credits : ©StudioPONANT-Adrien MORLENT

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