Maurin Auxéméry: New Guard for the Francos and the FIJM
The new Director of Programming for the Francos and the Festival international de jazz de Montréal—appointed in March 2022—says this is his dream job.
Maurin Auxéméry was born and raised in Marciac, a small town in Gers, west of Toulouse—a town perhaps best known for its… internationally famous jazz festival.
“Yes, I was born in a jazz town,” he confirms. “So, my roots are in this genre of music. My father loved it. The festival was a place my friends and family would get together. I saw major stars there, like Wynton Marsalis, Nina Simone, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Michel Petrucciani, and Ray Charles. It left its mark on me. My personal journey is somewhat defined by my involvement with jazz.”
That being the case, he almost has to pinch himself when he realizes he’s been given the opportunity to head up the programming for the biggest jazz festival in the world. “Yes, it is my dream job,” he says. “I’ve worked in this field since my 20s, including 10 years in the programming team at Spectra.”
Maurin Auxéméry also considers the other major Spectra-produced event, the Francos, to be an achievement. He’s delighted that this language—so rich, complex, and creative—remains so alive despite being under constant threat. “There are concerns about the protection of French, which is an important struggle,” he continues. “But there are encouraging signs that show the richness and vitality of our culture. There’s something completely crazy about organizing a festival consisting of 300 shows, in French, in North America.” He feels that programming the Francos offers a fantastic playing field. All styles, all genres are represented.
But the bread and butter of any festival programmer is the discovery or promotion of emerging talent.
“Both for the jazz fest and for the Francos, even though they are two different worlds, we aim to be discoverers and even trend accelerators,” he says. “Our greatest source of pride is introducing an artist before anyone else does. We’re satisfied when someone who makes a debut—more or less—in Montreal becomes a world-renowned star. And that has happened often!”
Maurin Auxéméry works with a team of seven people, all of whom have worked in the music industry, technology, management, public relations, or in performing arts agencies.
“To do this job, you’ve got to have your eyes, ears, and hands in music,” says Auxéméry, who, prior to Spectra, worked for a record company and for a few festivals, as well as putting artists out on tour. “You become a programmer after having gone through the school of life and the music industry.”
Working with his sensibilities, Auxéméry continually gauges styles, genres, artists, and trends. “It’s the work of a tightrope walker. You want artists and their communities to meet in front of and on the stage,” he says. “I’ve noticed that the Francos hold a special place for artists, some of whom give the show of their lives at the event.”
A Reflection of Society
Maurin Auxéméry must also avoid having free shows and ticketed shows interfere with one another, presenting a Pat Metheny outdoors and a Herbie Hancock indoors on the same night, for example. And he needs to strike a balance between big names and unknowns.
So, in terms of the Francos, certain artists may be true celebrities in their field or their culture but are just not heard on the radio here. “Nevertheless, we know they’ll draw 100,000 people because their musical aesthetic hits close to home. We therefore try to be representative of Montreal, which is an incredibly diverse city.”
Music reflects society, he continues. “It is increasingly fluid, just like people.” Artists travel, exploring different cultures and genres. In Auxéméry’s opinion, jazz is no longer elitist or obsessed with tradition. It is an essential genre. “It has a strong history in taking a stand, in liberation. It is protean music. People who say they don’t like jazz have simply not yet come across the jazz that best suits them.”