Geneva – The president of the Cité de la Musique resigns to save “his” project

Geneva – The president of the Cité de la Musique resigns to save “his” project
Geneva – The president of the Cité de la Musique resigns to save “his” project

The president of the Cité de la Musique resigns to save “his” project

Bruno Mégevand is leaving the Foundation Board, which should welcome new members from current music. The architectural project could also be modified.

Théo Allegrezza

Updated 11 hours ago

The eyes are red, the voice slightly hoarse. In the offices of his law firm, Bruno Mégevand expresses his emotion: “I am 64 years old, and it is the most difficult decision of my life.” The one who has embodied the Cité de la musique project for eight years, the one in whose spirit it sprouted, has decided to step back. “I left the presidency of the foundation board with effect from September 30,” he says.

At the same time, this Wednesday afternoon, a press release was broadcast in various media in the place. He announces a “change in governance” of the project. The number of representatives from the Orchester de la Suisse romande (OSR) and the Haute École de musique (HEM) will be reduced to two for each institution, compared to four so far for the OSR (out of eight members in total. ). New members, from public authorities and current music, will be appointed, in order to “take into account the popular will”, explains Bruno Mégevand. From these ranks will emerge a new president. In the meantime, David Lachat, also chairman of the foundation board of the HEM, will take over the interim.

The role of Hans Wilsdorf

On June 13, the inhabitants of the City of Geneva had refused – by a small majority – to validate the development plans to allow the Cité de la Musique to be erected on the Feuillantines estate, in the Nations district. The division of the cultural world and the ecological arguments (130 tree felling were necessary) particularly weighed in the rejection of the project. This vote, however, only amounts to negative notice to the Township, which has the final say in planning. Bruno Mégevand hopes that the decisions announced, coupled with a possible resizing of the project, will make it possible to “facilitate” the choice of the Council of State. Clearly, to override the Town’s notice and maintain the project in Feuillantines. “If we have the ambition to make the City of Music and to do so within six or seven years, then we can only do it in Feuillantines.”

Bruno Mégevand took his decision during the summer. Storm under a skull. The lawyer confides the heartbreak that it represents for him to leave a ship to which he devoted – “I counted” – nearly 5000 hours of his time. He explains that the informal discussions he has had in recent months, both with the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, which is to finance the construction of the building to the tune of 200 million francs, and with the head of cantonal culture, Thierry Apothéloz, led him to the conclusion that to ensure the sustainability of the project, it should be redesigned. And embodied differently. “My departure is a necessary condition, but not sufficient,” he said.

The consultation continues

The press release also announces “an artistic and cultural overhaul” of the project. Between the lines, we understand that in order to survive the City of Music must transform itself into the City of Music. Architecturally, the Pierre-Alain Dupraz office “worked to see if we could further reduce the sails and the number of tree felling,” said Bruno Mégevand. But no question of separating the two components. “Hans Wilsdorf would not want a philharmonic that would be dissociated from a school. This is the concept he supports, ”says Bruno Mégevand. It is also said that the foundation, already scalded by the harshness of the countryside, would not wish either to be associated with a possible non-respect of the will expressed by the citizens of the City. And that without these arrangements, it would have withdrawn its support.

A consultation of the various protagonists, launched by Thierry Apothéloz, is underway. Last week, the City Executive confirmed to City Council that it would submit negative notice. On the other hand, the Administrative Council will not position itself in favor of a buyout of the Feuillantines estate, as Alfonso Gomez aspired. In the coming weeks, it will be the turn of opponents of the Cité de la Musique to be consulted. The Council of State is expected to take a decision by the end of the year.

Théo Allegrezza is a journalist for the Geneva column. It covers in particular the political news of the city of Geneva. Previously, he was correspondent in Ticino for the Tribune de Genève and 24 heures.


Posted: 10/13/2021, 5:36 p.m.

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