Dear Anne Queffélec,

To repeat the famous pages devoted to Vinteuil’s sonata in Marcel Proust’s Un amour de Swann, an author particularly dear to you, there is an art of conducting the melody “here first, then there, then elsewhere, towards a noble, unintelligible and precise happiness.”

This art is yours. You have perfected it with the greatest pianists, like Alfred Brendel or Paul Badura-Skoda.

An art devoted to a repertoire of the most extensive, from Scarlatti to Dutilleux - for which you have recorded the complete work for piano, and for which you restore, with each interpretation, the right understanding of writing and that mixture of restraint and deep jubilation that can only be offered when music has become a self-experience.

“[Swann] had sought to gather the phrase or harmony (…) that passed and opened his soul more broadly,” Proust writes. The Münchener Zeitung titled on your subject «Anne Queffélec: the discovery of a soul». This seems to be your approach to music, made of fervor, where the role of the artist seems constantly questioned and devoted to the rigor of an ever completed learning, and is an asceticism.

This constant demand and this love for music that has remained intact owes much to an education about which you express deep gratitude to your parents. An education of which you humorously mention the “prehistoric” aspect: no car, no television, no radio, no camera. Yet we are in the middle of the 20th century. Barely a record player. But a piano and books, yes, certainly. Your mother and father, the novelist of Breton lands and waters, Henri Queffélec, passed on to you from childhood the values of art and scholarship.

Naturally, you turn to music after a year of hypokhâgne, and you join the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique where you will study brilliantly, both in piano and chamber music, whose repertoire is equally dear to you. Your entry into the advanced cycle allows you to choose teaching with an internationally renowned artist, and it is with the great Alfred Brendel that you run Vienna and the first international competitions like those of Munich in 1968 or Leeds a year later, and whose success will augur your international career as a pianist.

The sequel is a series of countries, cities, festivals, orchestras and big names that accompany your orchestral performances - like John Eliot Gardiner, Pierre Boulez or Christoph Eschenbach -, all over the world, from Albert Hall to Tokyo or Hong Kong. It is a world tour of the most prestigious concert halls and orchestras, where you play for an audience where the neophytes and the most knowledgeable mingle, all captivated by the generosity of your game and by the hand you extend to plunge into Beethoven, Ravel, Chopin, Haydn, Schubert, or of course Mozart.

Of all, perhaps, Mozart is your favorite, the one you call «the man of your life», the one who according to you knew everything about «love states». You say that you owe him a debt of love which you can never repay; and that even in seemingly gallant works, nothing is gratuitous.

This statement, you take it back to each of its measures, making the piano vibrate in turn of sonorities of string quartet or clarinet, to better reveal its variations and fantasy, Depth and humour – including your participation in the recording of Miloš Forman’s Amadeus, directed by Sir Neville Marriner. You have just returned from filming for a television documentary dedicated to him, in Vienna, Prague and Bologna.

A few days before, you took part in the «Folles Journées de Nantes», paying tribute to the Russian repertoire. Your calendar is still full for this season where you will participate again, and to our delight, at the Festival de La Roque D'Anthéron, or the 10th Musicales de Blanchardeau with more Italian and Hispanic scores.

While you are considered one of the most popular pianists in our country, dedicated «Best Performer of the Year» to the Victoires de la musique classique in 1990, it is impossible to evoke your musical experience without recalling your exceptional qualities as a teacher, for which you play with generosity, during French or Japanese master-classes, during summer classes, or through the innumerable juries of international competitions, to which you so regularly take part, or national competitions such as the piano of Ile-de-France that you have presided since 1999.

You also know how to put your music to good use. For 22 years, you have been president of the association «Ballades», which brings traditional music to all audiences and also works in hospitals. You also give recitals to fund new therapies.

Dear Anne Queffélec, your talent, your discipline, your enchanting charisma at each of your appearances on stage, the subtlety and mastery with which you restore each work, your constant link with the audience, your generosity, are as many components of this aura with which you radiate on the musical world, in France and in the world.

Dear Anne Queffelec, on behalf of the President of the Republic, we make you Commander of the National Order of Merit.

Dear Claire Gibault,

Elias Canetti wrote in Mass and Power: «There is no more concrete expression of power than the activity of the conductor». This expression of authority has long been exclusively dominated by male figures; so I am very happy to honour a personality whose remarkable talent has helped to change this state of affairs.

The arrival of women in the highly prized serail of conductors was a milestone, as this domain was reserved for men. You like to say that France Soir, in July 1969, titled "Un homme a marche sur la lune," in this case, Neil Armstrong, and on the same page at the bottom right, "A woman conducted an orchestra!"  That woman was you.

If today orchestral direction has fortunately become feminized, it is also because you played the role of pioneer in the recognition of artistic talent in the face of sexism prejudices. With you, the music will have contributed to changing customs.

In your career, through music as well as through your political responsibilities, you have never ceased to be committed to both the status of women and the protection of artists.

After a first prize for violin and chamber music at the Le Mans Conservatory before entering the Conservatoire national supérieur de Paris where you get the first prizes for orchestral direction, harmony, fugue and counterpoint, Your beginnings reveal very quickly the great conductor who is recognized today throughout the world.

From 1976 to 1983, you were musical director of the Chambéry Chamber Orchestra, then from 1983 to 1989, assistant to John Eliot Gardiner, then musical director of the Orchestre de l'Opéra national de Lyon. In 1995, you became the first woman to conduct the orchestra of La Scala on the occasion of the creation of the opera La Station Thermale by Fabio Vacchi, on a libretto by Myriam Tanant. You will be in charge of the direction of the Atelier lyrique and the Maîtrise de l'Opéra de Lyon from 1991 to 1998, where you will be in charge of the direction of Pelléas et Mélisande, of the Barber of Seville, of L'Enlèvement au sérail, of Romeo et Juliette de Berlioz, of the Orfeo de Monteverdi, Offenbach’s Brigands, or Iphigenia in Gluck’s Taurid, to name but a few of your striking interpretations.

Comfortable in all the repertoires, from the baroque to Ravel or Bernstein, you nevertheless have a predilection - you too - for Mozart. When from 2000 to 2002 you became musical director of Musica per Roma, where you created Il Laboratorio Voci in Musica, you presented Hänsel and Gretel by Humperdinck, Count Ory by Rossini, or Marie Stuart by Donizetti, while reserving a place of choice for the Mozart operas - The Marriage of Figaro, The Clemency of Titus, Mithridate, Idoménée, Cosi fan tutte - as well as for his Singspiele like Bastien and Bastienne, The Serail Abduction, The Director of Theatre, Zaïde, or The Magic Flute.

Among the meetings that were decisive for you is Claudio Abbado; there is also, both for your personal journey and for your relationship to the orchestra, Father Symeon, an Orthodox monk. Two personalities who will give you different and complementary interpretations of the word “perfection”.

The first will help you develop your musical reflection; you will assist him for Pelléas and Mélisande at the Royal Opera House, La Scala and the Vienna Opera, and become his assistant for the ensemble he founded, the Mozart Orchestra of Bologna, from 2004 to 2007. The second will consolidate the generosity and humility that so characterize you and make you a beloved and respected interpreter.

You conduct prestigious orchestras around the world, such as the Berlin Philarmonic Orchestra, the Copenhagen Philarmonic and the Washington Opera Orchestra, including the great Placido Domingo in the title role of Idomenea.

I cannot sum up your career as it is as rich as it is eclectic; it is, however, out of the way, because apart from being a recognized conductor, you have led your commitment outside the walls of theatres and concert halls: on the stage of the European Parliament.

On the occasion of the European elections in 2004, you are running alongside Michel Mercier for the Modem. You are elected to the European Parliament, where you will also be a member of the Committee on Culture and Education. During your mandate, you work for the intermittent, the rights of women and children. You were rapporteur on a project on the social status of artists in Europe and on equal treatment and access for men and women in the performing arts.

These issues have also been at the heart of your engagement in the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, in the areas of women and poverty, reconciliation of work and family life, and migrant women.

In 2008, conducting in Strasbourg the Closing Concert of the French Presidency of the European Union with the Slovak Philarmonic Orchestra in a program dedicated to Berlioz, with the singer Anna Caterina Antonacci, you have given a very beautiful illustration of this double cap that you wear with so much passion and conviction.

Since December 2010 you have been a member of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, where you are Vice-President of the Culture and Education Section.

When you return to your first profession in 2009, you decide to create your own orchestra, the Paris Mozart Orchestra, which pursues your social commitments in music, performing in prestigious halls as well as in prison or hospitals.
Through your talent, your determination and your altruism, you are among the great names in classical music who have put yourselves at the service of works, artists' rights and women’s rights. «By the power of music we are joyfully going through the dark night of trials», sing Pamina and Tamino in The Magic Flute: it is nourished by these reflections that you have become a voice of progress.

Dear Claire Gibault, on behalf of the French Republic, we make you an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Dear Gaël Darchen,

For more than two decades, you have devoted your passion for children’s voices to musical and stage training projects. At the head of the Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine since your twentieth birthday, you have raised this institution to the rank of the most sought-after and attractive in France. Recognized as a great specialist in children’s voices, your talent as a choir conductor and director has enabled the Master to become a reference in children’s choir.

Trained as a pianist and trumpet player, you very quickly turned to choir direction in the early 1990s; you started by directing groups of adults. Animated by a special sensitivity for children’s voices, in 1999 you became director of the Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine, created in 1985 by the Conseil général des Hauts-de-Seine to train boys and girls aged 8 to 16 in choral singing for free. With 450 children reconciling their schooling and their chorus life, from all social categories, to whom you have joined a female vocal ensemble and a male chorus, you are at the head of a remarkable musical institution, rich in its variety and its many talents.

Your pedagogical approach is based on the consideration of the skills and weaknesses of each, in order to be able to value both the intrinsic qualities of each chorister and the harmony of the ensemble. You deal with the vocal matter of all, without omission. You also know how to play courses and personalities, in order to allow everyone to flourish in the pleasure of singing.

In 1995, the Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine became the children’s choir of the Paris Opera, attracting the most prestigious collaborations: James Conlon, Seiji Ozawa, Valery Gergiev, José van Dam, Roberto Alagna, Nathalie Dessay and Felicity Lott. With your young ambassadors of French vocal music, you have travelled the world, for performances in the high places of the world’s musical and lyrical scene, from Egypt or Costa Rica to the Basilica of Saint-JosephPierre de Rome, the Palais de l'Escurial, the Operas of Bordeaux and Lille, and the ancient sites of Palmyra and Baalbek. There are no more festivals to which you are invited.

You can hear the classical repertoire as well, with Pergolèse, Bach, Mozart, Poulenc, Delibes, from oratorio to opera, also opening you to musicals and music of films, as for Blueberry or video games, with Obscure. A scientist, eclectic and modern, the Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine is as attractive for its virtuosity as for its originality.

This mastery owes its exceptional influence to a trainer, an educator, a chef and an artist of your requirement and your talent. I am very pleased that we will be able to listen to you this evening at the end of this ceremony, and I would like to warmly greet each of the backup singers for this exceptional musical moment that you are going to offer us.

Dear Gaël Darchen, on behalf of the French Republic, we make you a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.