A gentle conversation with Matthieu Sachot – French Tenor and soloist
Dear readers, do you have a habit of reading a ‘quote of the day’? Inspiring quotes can come across to anyone of us every single day, from social media to the over-head board above the café cashier when lining up to get a cup of morning latté; in one of a chilly Monday morning, I came across a quote when I was getting my morning hot drink, it said ‘Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life’, a quote by Ludwig van Beethoven, and just like that, it instantly reminded me of something: I haven’t been writing about music for some time! Perhaps it’s the chemistry in between the words ‘sensual’ and ‘spiritual’ which made me think of power of music, in a way, this quote did resonate to me that a great tune can lift our spirit up in an intangible way, especially the soothing and relaxing ones, the beauty of a good music can be relatively therapeutic, for this, I believe the French musician, Mr. Matthieu Sachot, can tell you more from his experience.
Hailed from Lyon, France and currently based in Hong Kong, as a professional French tenor, Matthieu was a former soloist of the Cathedral of Lyon, acquired rich experience on performing baroque and classical opera masterpieces, his talent and career opportunity that worked with renowned choir and orchestra conductor, which takes Matthieu to perform not only within Europe but internationally, from the US to Asia, his mesmerizing voice and striking performance included the Millennium evening on the Vatican’s San Pietro piazza, 9/11 ceremonies at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, numerous charity concerts and Christmas evening choirs in Europe, his recent venture in Asia, Japan in particular, opened up an opportunity for this French gentleman to share his passion and dedication to classical music to the audience in Asia, since his arrival in Hong Kong in 2013, Matthieu has joined force with several musician groups, such as Tallis Vocalis (baroque ensemble) and performed in both Hong Kong Cultural Centre and Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall. On top of the passion of classical music, Matthieu is also enthusiastic on involving charity causes across Asia, showing his concern and attention to children and people without a voice. With this wonderful opportunity, I am gladly to have a conversation with this French gentleman to talk about his life as a musician and more.
My Modern Darcy: Hi Matthieu, a pleasure to have you with us. First thing first, did you ever imagine yourself to be a musician, a tenor to be specific, when you were young? And how’s the journey looks like?
Matthieu Sachot: It has been an unexpected journey. I was 7 when my parents asked me if I wanted to join a class with dedicated time for music. After 4 years as Soprano in the St Jean Cathedral in Lyon, France, my voice started changing; we decided to put it on hold to prevent from hurting the vocal string. I rejoined at 13 years old then motivated to be part of a group, join back my friends, travel and get on stage in the world and meet people from different culture, and hopefully become a soloist one day. I worked daily on my voice to get it in shape, practicing also languages and learning about masterpieces, meeting some great singers along the way.It made me also realise that I had enough time to study and do music at the same time. I am now doing regular concerts and charity events in Hong Kong and Tokyo, and I know that daily work is key to help my voice mature.
MMD: What makes you so intrigue and passionate about classical music but not other genre? Did you have any influence from the people around you (e.g. family or mentor at school, etc.)
MS: I am listening to all types of music, including jazz, hip hop, rock, alternative and even hard rock. All is inspiring as they take harmonics, rhythm and emotions into different dimensions. But baroque and classical music are my preferred area, for both my voice and inspiration work well in it. In addition, this is a rather niche music when you think of it. I value it as a good way to meditate also to help other get inspired when listening to my performances. Key influencers for me in music: the passion and tenacity from my mother, the creativity from my grand-mother, the constructive critics from my wife, the quality and richness of the voice of Luciano Pavarotti, the techniques of my voice teachers Cecile De Boever and Leyna Gabriele, and of course my Choir Master, Jean-Francois Duchamp, who has been a father to me.
MMD: You have been working with some remarkable orchestra conductor and professionals in the past, can you tell us about the experience and how do you work yourself up to reach the standard of these experts, and eventually, takes your work internationally?
MS: Working with such experts and fine artists like Peter Phillips requires preparation, listening, learning constantly and applying fast to tune in with their expectations. It is generally within a short time frame, but this is when you move up! Then all your responsibility is to take everything you do from then on to that new level, and look for the next one to walk up to. Your responsibility becomes also to share what you have learned to help other go up.
MMD: Do you have any classical musician or composer that you specifically like? Who is that and why?
MS: in classical singers, here is my secret list: for Opera voices: Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Vittorio Grigolo, Jonas Kaufman, Michael Fabiano, and the bass Bryan Terfel. For Baroque voices: Christophe Pregardien and Cecilia Bartoli among others. I had the chance to visit the house of maestro Pavarotti near Modena recently, and the opportunity to be invited to sing with the pianist of the Pavarotti Association who was rehearsing there; a moving moment. One of my favorite composers is Johann Sebastian Bach, for both the mathematical structure and hidden emotions in it.
MMD: Given your performance around the world, can you share with us how’s the response of the audience towards classical music in between Europe, US, and even to Asia?
MS: In Europe people are looking for the extra emotion; France will sound maybe a bit more academic, while Italy will emphasize on Bel Canto. The UK loves the play in addition to the music itself. The US are all ears and support very much classical music. The western world overall likes the master pieces but is quite interested in rediscovery of little know pieces from major or minor composers. Asia tends to prefer the major hits, though we see a growing audience for high-quality singers and wider scope of music – The efforts of Hong Kong Premiere Performances, to bring international artists to Hong Kong, shows indeed the appetite for more of this western approach. Some other people in Hong Kong are at the heart of this push, especially towards local artists, including Warren Mok, Dong Jian Gong, a former professional bass of the NY City Opera, and associations like Musica Del Cuore.
MMD: Apart from your classical concerts and performance, you have been very enthusiastic on charity causes as well, can you share about your latest work / project? And what motivates you to do so? Also, how did you manage your time to be such multi-tasking yet without burning yourself out, nor, interrupt your practice to keep your tip-top performance?
MS: My most recent work has been for children of Nepal and of Cambodia. I like to work for charities that I can follow, and see the real impacts of our efforts for the next generation. It is important as human beings to give a hand to those in need.
You always have all the time you need, my wife keeps on reminding me – and she is a strong supporter of my work in Finance, as well as my development in music, in addition to our upcoming first child. You generally always have 1-2 hours you can use for yourself every day; I generally take it to exercise my body or practice my voice. My instrument being my body, it is important you keep a healthy lifestyle and limit late parties for example; those are sacrifices for greater good, especially when you are on stage and you know the work you did brought you there.
MMD: As a life of a musician, an artist, can you share with us what makes a good musician (artist)?
MS: That is a tough question! One recipe fits all is unlikely to work, as we have different bodies, minds, people around us and aspirations. For me, what makes me think I am working in the right direction as an artist is the balance I give myself between work, music and my family. It is also the effort, every day, to think and prove that our potential is always at a reach; you just need to do it (like the slogan of Nike). Let’s remember that being a singer is being an athlete. You need a diet, a target, a meaningful training and people to support you, and the spirit that you should give all you have without expecting anything in return.
MMD: How did you see the association of classical music to a gentleman’s lifestyle?
MS: Essential, as part of one’s culture. Not only the local culture, but a worldwide culture that nurtures all the emotions, as well as beauty. And classical music is an important vibration that you should be sensitive to, as it helps you being more careful, attentioned, and supportive to others. Listening or performing does not matter. What matters is your genuine interest and capacity to share and build relations thanks to it.
MMD: In your opinion, how’s a modern day gentleman should look like? What are the qualities should he has?
MS: Another tricky question; my sense is someone with elegance of mind, sharpness in any type of work and commitment to a simple life with healthy relations with others. When I go to the alps, I always remember this phrase “The conquerors of uselessness”, when climbing a mountain (title of a book by the alpinist Lionel Terray) – It is useless to the eyes of some, but invaluable to others, as it is purely a relation to yourself, and how your best competition is yourself.
MMD: Can you share with us your upcoming projects?
MS: some recitals by September 2018 – Also, but I cannot mention yet much: a new project I am working on for Fall 2018 in Hong Kong. You can get updates on my website (www.matthieusachot.com), and Instagram account (@mattsachot). You can also subscribe to my facebook group page “Concert-Matthieu Sachot”.
Special thanks to Mr. Matthieu Sachot, image courtesy of Voice Workshop Management by Alice Lopez