After 41 years at the helm, Michel Levasseur leaves the Festival international de musique contemporaine de Victoriaville. Who can succeed him?
Are you a lit person? Opened ? Versatile? Do you like out-of-the-ordinary music? Freejazz? The experimental? Are you able to manage? To organize? To program? To apply for grants? Could living in the region be an option?
You may have the right profile to take the helm of the Festival international de musique contemporaine de Victoriaville (FIMAV). The avant-garde event is looking for a new Artistic Director and Co-CEO, or Artistic Director and Co-CEO, to succeed Michel Levasseur, who will leave Platform Productions after 41 years of good and loyal services.
The 39th edition, which will take place from May 15 to 21, will therefore be its very last. No regrets, he explains.
“We had been talking about it for a while, but I made the decision at the end of November, after having completed the programming”, launches the main interested party, passing through Montreal on Monday to meet the media.
Age must have played a part in his choice. At 70, Michel Levasseur has theoretically passed the hour of retirement. But he mostly cites a “mix of reasons”, which range from “fatigue” to “difficulty managing stress” related to the annual scaffolding of cutting-edge programming.
“The whole process became less interesting. It was harder to re-energize,” he sums up.
For FIMAV, it is clearly the end of an era. And there is no doubt that the departure of Michel Levasseur leaves a big hole in the organization. A double emptiness, we will add, since his companion Joanne Vézina, in charge of administration and co-director general, also bows out after 35 years.
Two pages turn instead of one.
With this change inevitably comes the time for assessments. On this side, Michel Levasseur can say mission accomplished. He leaves a cultural event in good financial health, with a certain reputation in the international avant-garde circuit.
Since its very first edition in 1983, FIMAV has revealed exceptional musicians in Quebec, who might otherwise not have had a showcase, including guitarist Fred Frith, saxophonist John Zorn and Japanese hacker Ikue Mori, who are back for this 39th edition.
In the mess, we also think of Christian Marclay, Tom Cora, Merzbow, Keiji Heino, Lars Hollmer, Chris Cutler and other brilliant creators from all over the world. Not to mention Quebecers René Lussier, Jean Derome, Martin Tétreault, Johanne Hétu and Klaxon Gueule, who shined thanks to the event.
Considering the extreme marginality of the style and the artists represented, it is surprising that the FIMAV has flourished to such an extent, in a small regional town to boot. But with hindsight, Michel Levasseur believes that Victoriaville was a blessing rather than a disadvantage.
“It served us well,” he said. It created a great environment for quality. »
Levasseur says he is happy, moreover, to have been able to inject new blood into the event, while remaining loyal to the musicians of the first generation. With shining eyes, he evokes the Growlers Choir, a metal vocal ensemble that has just released an album, or No Hay Banda, from the contemporary Montreal scene.
“Of course, when you do this work, you are afraid of not always being on the novelty. There’s the stress of having to stay relevant. But I don’t remember not being successful,” he said.
It remains to be seen how the organization will survive the departure of its partner.
Vézina and Levasseur were the only full-time employees of Platform productions, the rest of the team being made up of about sixty freelancers and seasonal workers. They had the expertise and the knowledge necessary to bring to life and prosper a cutting-edge cultural event.
But the one who was destined to work in forestry does not seem worried about the future of his baby. Half a dozen people have already shown interest in his position, including Europeans. Managing the event remotely is not excluded, but a minimum of physical presence will be needed to forge links with the cultural, social and municipal environment. “It can’t be completely digital,” he says.
For the rest, everything is possible. “We are hopeful that we will find the right people. We will do our interviews in June, after the festival. The only prerequisite is to speak French. If you don’t speak French, you can’t survive Victo. »
Of course there is the renowned John Zorn, who will play twice at the closing of the festival (Sunday May 21). But who else should you see at this 39th edition? Three proposals by Michel Levasseur.