Meylan budget cuts threaten orchestra

Wade McIntyre

The Harmony-Meylan orchestra which played in Gonzales and Baton Rouge last year may be close to breaking up, according to Patrick Boullier, president of the orchestra association.

Boullier told Gonzales Committee on Cultural Affairs Committee President John Hebert by email that the global economic crisis threatening world economies could also bring an end to the Harmony-Meylan.

The orchestra utilizes an old Capuchin Monastery which Meylan purchased as a recital hall, but now the city is studying whether it should close the hall due to falling tax revenues.

Supported by the Gonzales Tourist Commission under the committee on cultural affairs, Harmony-Meylan last year received wide publicity and critical recognition for its performances while strengthening ties between France and Louisiana

Many orchestra members were hosted in private homes and received tours of Gonzales and surrounding areas during the visit.

The orchestra performed to a very enthusiastic crowds at St. Theresa Catholic Church, the Household of Faith Church in Gonzales and Shiloh Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.

Negotiations are currently underway between the orchestra and Meylan to keep the musicians together, but Boullier expressed concern that the arts are one of the first areas to be hit by cutbacks in times of economic distress.

“The orchestra is funded by the city of Meylan,” Hebert said. “Most French cities do have an orchestra which they support with funding,” he said.

During the Harmony-Meylan trip last year, the orchestra received contributions from the City of Gonzales, Household of Faith  and St. Theresa to help defray costs of the trip.

The Mayor of Meylan and a small cultural exchange delegation will visit Gonzales April 5-10, marking 23 years of unbroken exchanges between the two cities.

The 7-delegation group is considerably smaller than those in years past, Hebert said. The Meylan group initially advised Gonzales that it might not be able to make the trip this year, due to the French financial situation, but eventually decided to come with a smaller group.

Meylan is located in the French Alps and is part of the greater Grenoble metropolitan area. It is home to the ZIRST Zone for innovative Technological Research and Development, and the area is noted for research in micro-processors, robotics and other technical research fields.