THE HERITAGE SITE
Founded at the beginning of the 9th century by Barnard, a former military officer under Charlemagne, the Abbey of Ambronay was attached to the Rule of St Benedict. Over the centuries the abbey became more and more powerful, its influence extending over a wide area and reaching its apogee in the 15th century. Gradually, the monks began to enjoy certain freedoms, including a move away from communal living. Following the reforms of Louis XIII, the abbey was attached to the Congregation of the Benedictines of Saint-Maur in 1651. The monks returned to a strict monastic life, restoring and transforming the buildings as well as collating the archives and building a school. After the French Revolution, the monks were forced to leave and the abbey became a parish church. The former monastic buildings became in turn barns, a nursing home, barracks, a school and social housing.
The Festival of Early Music was created by the Association Art et Musique in 1980, and over the years the project developed into the Ambronay Centre Culturel de Rencontre. Today, the abbey is still the parish church of Ambronay and along with the cloister belongs to the town. The rest of the abbey buildings are the property of the Ain département.
THE CULTURAL PROJECT
Bringing together a remarkable historic monument and a cultural project based around a music festival, Ambronay is dedicated to artistic creativity, public engagement, research and the development of young talent. Through its renowned early music festival, Ambronay has developed an ambitious programme to support the professional insertion of young creative artists (notably with its eeemerging project ‘European Emerging Ensembles’). The centre encourages participation by amateurs and public engagement with culture in a rich heritage setting. It also forges links between culture, tourism and economy, with the introduction of a business club and a conference centre, and manages its own record label, Ambronay Editions.
Ambronay offers a diverse collection of artistic and cultural activities which take place throughout the year. These include:
- A month-long annual festival which since 1980 has hosted big names and new talent from the worlds of early music and world music. Each year 18,000 tickets are sold for almost 85 events.
- Long-term projects within the Ain département which brings together artists, school groups, associations, amateur musicians and social centres.
- Events open to the public including open rehearsals and professional meetings – even an Easter egg hunt!
- The promotion of a heritage built on history, architecture and music – visits to the abbey for children and adults, a research committee and a record label with international distribution of its four releases each year.
A LOCAL AND REGIONAL PRESENCE
Ambronay’s activities extend over a wide area, from the local to the international.
Cultural activities take place all year round in the local area, and the Ambronay Festival has a national reputation. Ambronay is active on the European scale, and its European Baroque Academy has been awarded the status of EU Cultural Ambassador. The activities of the centre are promoted internationally through its record label, Ambronay Editions.