ON 14, 15, 16 AND 17 MAY 2020, ANCENIS DISTRICT

A meeting…

The organisation of the first edition is the result of a partnership between:

  • Ancenis District Council (Communauté de Communes du Pays d’Ancenis – COMPA)

One of the priorities of the region’s project is to organise a major event to animate and publicise the region. COMPA wanted to organise a unique, symbolic, unifying event which would reflect its identity and the region.

  • and a company – Camac Harpes.

CAMAC is the only harp maker in France. The company, based in Mouzeil, designs and supplies harps to many professional and amateur musicians around the world and is highly esteemed. Jakez François, president of Camac, organises and supports festivals in France and abroad dedicated to the instrument which highlights its wealth, its demanding nature and its diversity.

Building on shared values and a commitment to the area, COMPA wanted to develop a partnership with CAMAC and Ancenis to create a unique and innovative occasion for the entire region.
So the idea of the festival was born. The concept – 3 days of original encounters with the sounds and rhythms of the harp, to be reorganised every two years.

The choice to reorganise the festival is backed up by the success of a previous event. In fact, in 2012 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of CAMAC, Ancenis organised a series of concerts. The event showed the potential of such an event to energise the region and increase the pride of the inhabitants.

The objectives

  • Create an event to unify and create a strong image for the region
  • Join forces to create a unique and exceptional project
  • Spread news of the district of Ancenis at a regional, national and international level
  • Help to maintain the economy and tourism in the area through an innovative project
  • Strengthen partnerships between COMPA and other economic players in the area
  • Provide an artistic and cultural education from a young age

A unique resonance

An event dedicated to the harp, both eclectic and demanding, in the home of one of the world’s major harp makers – this is the principle of Harpes aux Max and what gives it its unique resonance. The festival will be the opportunity to discover harps never before seen in France, to welcome foreign amateur groups and to listen to renowned artists playing a wide range of musical genres.

Abroad, several recurring festivals bring harpists together for the enjoyment of the general public:

  • Princeton Harp Festival
  • The World Harp Congress which is held every 3 years in a different country (the next one will be held in Hong Kong in 2017)
  • The Edinbourg Harp Festival, held every year, which is dedicated to the Celtic harp in Scotland
  • The Festival Mundial de Arpa in Paraguay, dedicated to the South American harp
  • The Somerset Festival in New Jersey dedicated to the Celtic harp
  • The Beijing Harp Festival,
  • Harpfest Singapore

In France, there are several harp festivals, all backed by CAMAC, including:

  • The Avesnois festival organised by the association Harpe en Avesnois which brings together ensembles in which the harp is accompanied by other instruments
  • Les rencontres internationales de harpe celtique in Dinan
  • The harp festival that CAMAC organises in a different region of France every year, this year in Nancy
  • Dasson en Delenn « the resonance of the harp », a festival aimed at the young harpists and intended to reveal young talent
  • The Gargilesse classical music festival in Berry

The meaning behind the name…

Harpes au Max :

  • “Harpes” (harps) in the plural form – the harp world is very diverse, both in its form, its practice, the origins of its musicians and the styles of music…
  • “au Max” (to the max): for 3 days, the harp will be the centre of attention, with all eyes and ears on it. It’s now or never if you want to take advantage of this opportunity to discover, enjoy and be amazed

An unifying initiative

The partners :

  • COMPA, the main contributor is managing the project
  • CAMAC is the artistic director of the festival. In close connection with the artists, the company plays an important part in organising the festival.
  • Ancenis-Saint-Géréon brings its technical expertise, its equipment and its network of volunteers from the region to the project. It also brings its experience of the anniversary edition in 2012 to the project.

The partners involved :

  • The inhabitants of Ancenis district following a campaign to involve amateur artists and the general public
  • Businesses in the region that can directly and indirectly benefit from the event (accomodation, catering, shops, service providers etc.)
  • Businesses that want to enhance their image and that of the region through inter-company meetings (customers, suppliers, etc.) and the strengthening of internal links (employees) and external (partners).

An eclectic artistic program

COMPA wants to create an exceptional event conveying the image of a dynamic, welcoming and diverse region. The artistic programme has been entrusted to Jakez François. It aims to combine world music, classical music, pop and electronic music to respond to the public’s taste and to astonish all, no matter their age or taste in music.

Key words: discovery, eclecticism, astonishment, escape, quality, friendliness, proximity, diversity, intergenerational, festive, modernity but also publicity for Ancenis-Saint-Géréon.

For this first edition, the event will light up the region with:

  • Free concerts in public places
  • Educational events for schools in the region
  • Concerts outside the main festival location designed to reach the whole region
  • Events for people who have limited access to cultural events (retirement homes, specialised institutes etc.)
  • A meeting between international artists and amateur musicians

Several professional and amateur artists and ensembles will be welcomed. All the continents will be present and will give concertgoers the opportunity to listen to various harps from around the world including an unprecedented concert in France on the konghou (Chinese harp) or of exotic amateur groups from as far as Tasmania. The arrival of these artists will also give the inhabitants of Ancenis district the opportunity to meet people from other cultures and to foster relationships.