A Heritage site for Culture (CCR) since 2013, the former convent of Les Dominicains de Haute-Alsace focuses on interdisciplinarity in music and the digital arts.
THE HERITAGE SITE
The former convent of Les Dominicains de Haute-Alsace, classed as a historic monument, is an important centre of Alsatian heritage. Constructed in the 14th century and comprising a church and cloister, it survived several wars before being abandoned by the Dominican fathers during the French Revolution and sold off as a national asset. The Conseil Départemental du Haut-Rhin has owned the site since 1991 and has made a significant investment in its restoration. The nave retains several remarkable murals from the 14th, 16th and 18th centuries, and also houses one of the region’s rare rood screens. The church has an exceptional acoustic in which the sound resonates without echo, absorbed by its 24 metre high wooden ceiling. The first concert took place there on 22 December 1838 on the initiative of owner and patron Jean-Jacques Bourcart, who wished to ‘use music to ennoble the heart and the soul, to unite in brotherhood our fellow citizens, to bring music to life all around us’. The musical vocation of the site developed during the 19th century, with the Guebwiller Music Society enlisting prestigious performers such as Clara Schumann, who gave four concerts there in 1862. Artist residencies began in the 19th century, including that of Sigismond Neukomm, a student of Joseph Haydn who composed several of his works at the convent.
THE CULTURAL PROJECT
Classical, world, baroque, contemporary, crossover and early music – all types of music are embraced at the former convent, which aims to encourage new ways to listen and to reinvent the concert. Audiences can therefore recline on a deckchair or mattress, and listen to ensembles under a geodesic dome. In this spirit of openness, new audiences are welcomed, and they can socialise together at the post-concert Séraphin bar.
The digital arts are represented by video murals produced by specialist artists and projected directly onto the walls during a concert, or under a dome. Digital installations produced by artists in residence are also exhibited in the rooms of the former convent. Coming from all around the world, these artists are the lifeblood of the cultural project and regularly meet with the public.
The centre’s activities, whether aimed at children or adults, all have the same objective – to reveal and share the creativity hidden inside us all, and which makes us human. The Audiovisual Centre gives the artists in residence a unique creative space, a haven of peace where they have total freedom and individual support. The projects selected are those which demonstrate an independent voice and a strong desire to share, as the artist has a true social role to play. Artists from across the globe benefit from technical assistance and support, and direct contact with their audiences. This international approach makes the Dominicains de Haute-Alsace a true purveyor of culture and a centre which is open to the world.