Princeton Harp Festival
a new festival experience.
Education: Lyon Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et Danse
Teacher: Fabrice Pierre
Occupation: Instructor at Lyon Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique
Sylvain Blassel has always felt that it was his destiny to become a harpist and conductor. His studies at the National Conservatory of Music in Lyon with Fabrice Pierre and Gilbert Amy instilled a love of orchestral and contemporary repertoire. Upon graduation from the Conservatory of Lyon in 1998 with the highest honors, Sylvain was hired by the Ensemble InterContemporain as head assistant for two years. He primarily works for David Robertson and Pierre Boulez, but has also collaborated with other conductors such as Peter Eötvös, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Hans Zender. Through his work with the Ensemble, he worked with several contemporary composers such as György Kurtag, György Ligeti, Pierre Boulez, Brian Ferneyhough, Pascal Dusapin, Emmanuel Nunes, and Helmut Lachenmann.
At the harp, he has played in various orchestras such as the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre National de Lyon Opera, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, Togetherness Klangforum Wien, Route Ensemble under the direction of conductors such as Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Michel Plasson, Emmanuel Krivine, Alain Lombard, Marek Janowski, Kent Nagano, Tugan Sokiev. More recently, he worked under the baton of Claudio Abbado, Sir Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel, Alan Guilbert, and Vladimir Jurowski in the Berliner Philharmoniker.
A strong advocate of contemporary music, Sylvain has led or played the creations of works by Jacques Lenot, Francesco Filidei Peter Jodlowski, Vincent Carinola Erik Oña, or Oliver Schneller. His passion for early music led him to regularly adapt lute and harpsichord music of Bach, Weiss, Aimed Dowland, Scarlatti, Froberger, Narvaez for harp. Anxious to enrich his repertoire, he has more than fifty transcriptions or orchestrations for different ensemble combinations.
His CD Warner / Lontano Goldberg Variations by JS Bach premiered at the harp, was unanimously praised by the press, "the gentle sound of S. Blassel reveals an introspective and intimate interpretation and the Goldberg seemed very well suited to harp " (New York Times, August 2009).
Fascinated by ancient harps, Sylvain restores and adjusts his own instruments under the watchful eye of luthier Alexandre Budin.
Sylvain Blassel teaches harp alongside Fabrice Pierre at the Conservatoire National de Lyon, and analysis at the CNR of Rennes. He is regularly invited to present master classes in major universities including Universität der Künste Berlin, Trinity College of London, Hamburg University of Music, and the Royal Conservatory of Toronto.