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They reinvent the Breton tradition: the Bagad de Vannes has an incredible collective – They reinvent the Breton tradition


The magic potion cauldron of the bagad from Vannes is as mundane as the platforms at King’s Cross Station for those unaware of the existence of Hogwarts: a small rehearsal room with blue walls from another age, mismatched tables and chairs, snare drums neatly stored on shelves . But that’s where the musical commission meets. The “comus” for the initiated. Above all, do not imagine a circle as secret as it is closed. “It is the locomotive of the association”, explains Jeanne Billard, the president. “It is a marker of the bagad of Vannes, a pledge of democracy, a strength. “

“We built another model, telling ourselves that we are stronger collectively”

“For a long time in the first category, a bagad was first and foremost a charismatic leader: the penn-sonneur”, says Youenn Le Ret, current president of the comus. Soon to be 70 years old and more than half a century in the elite, the Bagad de Vannes had its leading personalities, like the Poupard brothers in the 1970s to 90s. But at the turn of the millennium, the Mélinerion have had their wings cut off by the departure of the leaders of the moment. “So we built another model, telling ourselves that we are stronger collectively. “

No magic wand for this rebirth, but a bet: confidence in youth. “There were lots of skills in our kids. Rather than “dinosaurize” the musical commission, we gave them the reins. This was in 2003. When it was created, the vast majority of comus members were not 16 years old.

Motivated, motivated

“The comus? This is what allows the composer not to exhaust himself! ” Explain Ewen Couriaut. Penn blower of the bombards, the young man of 27 years sits there for… 13 years. We meet the president and the heads of the desks (bagpipes, bombarde and snare drum), the volunteer responsible for logistics. All ringers are welcome. The only condition: you have to stay motivated. We talk about outings, numbers and especially music and artistic projects.

Ewen is one of the “repertoire hunters”, along with his brother Ylan and Yvonnick Le Mestre. “For each continuation of the Brest competition, we find the person who will help us humanely and musically in the writing. Then the rest is orchestrated and harmonized by another team. We rework the phrasing of the bombards and still others put the ornaments of the snare drums, ”explains Ewen. “Even if we don’t always all agree, in the end, we all play back with pleasure. “

Enthusiasm and benevolence

For Etienne Chouzier, president of the association and penn ringer of the bagad during ” France has an unbelievable talent “ (2015) and Olympia (2017), this collective alchemy can be heard in the music of Les Meuniers. “We are recognized for harmony and orchestration, but our functioning gives us an identity… multiple and variable”, appreciates the professional composer, fed on comus.

He has always been passionate about film music. Ewen ventures towards jazz and electro while learning Breton to approach the musicality of the language. The bagad made them grow, today they feed it with their journey. As Kevin Hass or Antoine Guillet do, while the next generation is maturing. Swan Le Ret, 20, begins to compose for bombard ensembles. Student in musicology, he experiments. “If someone has a project, it’s great, we are there to help them”, summarizes Youenn. The key to their success is therefore nothing musical. It can be summed up in one word: benevolence.

The magic of projects

That Saturday in the blue room, the comus validates the latest summer concert proposals and sets the repertoire. “Nothing should be added because we integrate a lot of young people”, argues Pierre Thibault, penn bagpipe. Beyond technical performance, here we cultivate team spirit, attention to others. These grouped arrivals are precisely a new formula to continue to raise the mayonnaise. A choice which therefore influences the artistic. “There is an educational dimension in what we compose,” recalls Étienne Chouzier. So much so that at the comus, we can get lost on the choice of “B flat” or “C” for the next piece. Even if for Étienne, the only ingredient that is still lacking in the music of the Melinerions is the “begon” (pronounced beudjon). This extra thing that makes you dance.

“We can only be optimistic,” concludes the president of the association.

Despite the covid, the bagad kept its 200 members, its hundred young people in training and its taste for projects that delight. That Saturday, the virtuous circle of bagad was enthusiastic about the creation of a pipeband for the world championship in Glasgow in 2023. To unite and inspire talents, it’s not rocket science: you need projects.

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