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"Prodigies": there is magic in Zahia Ziouani's wand


INTERVIEW – The musical director accompanies the young talents of the classic of the France 2 competition with her Divertimento orchestra.


- You have conducted several national philharmonic orchestras for the

program “Prodiges”

, then for two years, your own Divertimento symphony orchestra to accompany the young instrumentalists, singers and dancers of the

France 2 talent competition


How are you approaching this season 9?



Each season of “Prodiges” is different and each year I am pleasantly surprised and amazed, in a good way, by the commitment of these young people, by their talent and their perseverance.

I am happy to accompany them in a rather diversified program with musicians that I have known for a long time.

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Your orchestra doubles as a Divertimento Academy in Pantin.

Is this taste for transmission close to the DNA of


Yes absolutely, transmitting classical music in all territories is an integral part of my life.

Since the creation of the academy in Seine-Saint-Denis, we have set up residences in Sarthe, Moselle, in the urban areas of Lyon and Grenoble.

I had the opportunity to invite the young singer Roxane Macaudière, winner of season 4 of "Prodiges" and I worked with Marin Chapoutot, clarinetist winner of season 3, for the film telling my life, in which he plays a musician.

But “Prodigies” is a photo at a given moment. For example, Marin, an excellent musician, decided to do other studies.

Sensitizing young people to music, inviting them to practice an instrument opens up new horizons for them.

I come off stage with young people from Seine-Saint-Denis, Sevran and Tremblay-en-France.

“If I manage to make people understand that with work, you always get results, then I want to serve as a model”

Zahia Ziouani

Are you a model?

If as a model I manage to make them understand that with work, we always have results, then yes.

They know my requirement and my attention.

Moreover, women conductors are still rare, so in this respect I am also sending a message.

Read also“Prodigies”: the enchanting talent ball of season 9

On January 25, 2023,


is released at the cinema , your biopic with Oulaya Amamra and Niels Arestrup in particular.

Tell us about the genesis of this project.

The director Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, who loves true stories (

Les Héritiers


Le Ciel Can Wait

), wanted to draw inspiration from my journey to finally tell it.

My twin sister, Fettouma, cellist, coached Oulaya Amamra, the actress who plays my role and herself is played by Lina El Arabi.

I took part in the scenario and in the choice of the important musical pages for me as for my orchestra.

I notably chose

Le Boléro

by Ravel,

La danse bacchanale


Samson and Dalila

by Saint-Saëns,


's New World Symphony or Beethoven's

Symphony No. 7


France Télévisions and Canal+ took part in the production.

Conductor Zahia Ziouani and her sister Fettouma Ziouani (right), cellist, with the two actresses performing their roles in the film


, Oulaya Amamra and Lina El Arabi respectively.


An instrument can make you dream, but conducting an orchestra is rather abstract for a child, unless you want to lead everyone with a baton...

At home, my parents (Kabyle father and Algiers mother) listened to a lot of Mozart, Beethoven and operas.

I started playing classical guitar at the conservatory without knowing that it was not part of the orchestra.

Then I took up the viola because I absolutely wanted to play in an orchestral ensemble.

Once inside, I discovered the different families of instruments and I was fascinated by the conductor, the way he took charge of the rehearsals, the musicians, I felt like find myself in there.

When I was young, I was a class representative and I liked taking charge of groups.

But as a woman, I really had a hard time projecting myself because I didn't see any of them leading an orchestra!

How did you manage to penetrate this orchestral world?

I took a lot of public lessons, master classes, concerts and ended up being spotted by the entourage of Sergiu Celibidache, a great master of orchestral conducting.

I studied with him at the Schola Cantorum in Paris and then in Germany.

In parallel I worked on musical analysis, orchestration and musicology at the Sorbonne.

But I really built myself by creating



"I named my symphony orchestra Divertimento because it's an Italian musical form that embodies both flexibility and dynamism, which suited my state of mind"

Zahia Ziouani

Why did you name your symphony orchestra



Because it's the name of an Italian musical form that embodies both flexibility and dynamism.

It corresponded well to the state of mind that I had.

It is a joyful, light form, in the ethereal sense of music.

Read also“Prodigies”: five good reasons to watch the France 2 competition

How are you going to celebrate 25 years of



On March 31 at the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris, I am going to present a scenic creation with an actor and video, which allows you to fully immerse yourself in Mahler's

Symphony No. 1

because it is a work that is inspired poetry, painting, nature, literature and the personal history of the composer.

In May 2023, I will also be releasing a record on Harmonia Mundi,

Saint-Saëns, le voyageur


Have you achieved all your dreams?

I don't yet have the means of many other orchestras and there are still many artistic challenges to achieve to defend the place of culture and women and to bring young people to classical music.

I am setting up projects for the 2024 Olympics in order to forge links between sport and music.

The video allows this, we can for example bring urban or contemporary dance in a symphonic concert.

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2022-12-29

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