After completing his studies in business administration management and music (percussion, history of music, composition, harmony, electroacoustic music), René Martin founded the Centre de Réalisations et d’Études Artistiques in Nantes.
He has been the artistic director of the centre since 1979 and every year organises a series of chamber music concerts, the CMC, and spiritual concerts in Nantes and the wider Loire region.
In 1981, René Martin collaborated with Paul Onoratini, who was a village mayor at that time, to found the Festival International de piano de La Roque d’Anthéron, which quickly became the biggest piano festival in the world and regularly features the big names of today and tomorrow on its programme: Radu Lupu, Martha Argerich, Nelson Freire, Nikolaï Lugansky, Boris Berezovsky, Nicholas Angelich, Daniil Trifonov…
1986 saw the creation of Moments Musicaux de l’Hermitage à la Baule, an opportunity for well-known contemporary chamber musicians to come together: the Ysaÿe and Modigliani quartets, Régis Pasquier, Jean-Claude Pennetier, Anne Queffélec, Claire Désert, Renaud and Gautier Capuçon...
Then, in 1988, the famous Russian pianist, Sviatoslav Richter, asked him to manage his Festival de la Grange de Meslay en Touraine, which marked the beginning of a great friendship between the two men. René Martin has organised more than 100 concerts with S.Richter, manages his festival and is involved with the December Nights at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.
René Martin has also managed the artistic direction of the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, the largest abbey in the Christian western world, for more than 25 years. The abbey boasts ten concert halls and hosts major sacred music training courses, such as those led by Philippe Herrewaghe, William Christie, Paul van Nevel, and Christoph Spering…
In addition to all of this, René Martin has also developed a range of overseas artistic activities under the name Label Nantes, organising concert tours in Japan, Brazil and the UK.
The vast experience accumulated through the management of these festivals encouraged him to take his mission to spread music to greater heights with the creation of La Folle Journée in 1995, a unique event that revolutionised the perception of classical music concerts in France and across the world. With his innovative approach to programming, whereby no performance exceeds 45 minutes, La Folle Journée has an unconventional approach, which encourages new audiences to access classical music - young people, of course, but all people of all ages - by turning the traditional concert concept on its head.
Since 2003, La Folle Journée has expanded to 11 towns in the Loire region and its resounding success guarantees its place amongst the world’s greatest international festivals. In 2014 the festival celebrated its twentieth anniversary in Nantes and its tenth anniversary in Tokyo.
Its international presence has evolved over the years, with performances in Lisbon from 2000 to 2006, Bilbao since 2002, Rio de Janeiro in 20à7, Warsaw since 2010 and five cities in Japan ((Tokyo, Niigata, Kanazawa, Biwako, Tosu), attracting more than a million music lovers every year since 2005.
Ekaterinburg, in Russia, has just been added to the list with a first edition in 2015, on the theme of “Passion”, featuring 80 concerts attracting a public of 35,000 over 3 days.
Other innovative and significant events include “Folles Nuits”, events that are similar to La Folle Journée in spirit and enable the public to focus a specific composer or major influence in the history of music over the course of a weekend. Under the guidance of artistic director, René Martin, the cities of Nîmes, Blois, Noirmoutier and more recently Grenoble, are now aiming to revolutionize the traditional concert ritual by organising high-quality, reasonably priced concerts in a single site that attract some of the most eminent musicians on the contemporary international scene to perform in a warm and convivial atmosphere.
A well-known and recognised artistic director, during the 2005 edition of the festival, René Martin was decorated with the insignia of the French National Order of Merit by Mr. Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, French Minister for Culture and Communication.
In March 2005, during the La Folle Journée in Lisbon, the Portuguese president, Yorge Sampaio, awarded him the Commander of the Order of Prince Henry medal, the highest honorary title that the government can award to a foreigner.
In 2011, he was named Commander of the Order of Arts and Literature.
In September of the same year, during the La Folle Journée festival in Warsaw, René Martin received the “Gloria Artis” gold medal from the Polish Minister of Culture, the highest award possible for people distinguishing themselves in the world of artistic creation and the promotion and protection of culture of Polish culture and heritage.
In April 2013, René Martin was named Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour.
In May 2013, the Japanese Ministry of Culture, represented by Mr Seiichi Kondo, awarded him the prestigious Commissioner for Cultural Affairs of Japan prize in recognition of his collaboration with Japan, a country in which René Martin organises more than 700 concert each year.
LE CREA - CENTRE DE RÉALISATIONS ET D'ETUDES ARTISTIQUES (Centre for Artistic Development and Study)
Based in Nantes, le CRÉA organised some of the most dynamic concerts that take place in the Loire region. In order to make music accessible to as many people as possible, CRÉA has developed new concepts that underpin a new approach to the traditional classical concert, thereby opening up new horizons to a huge public. Its activity is centred around the Loire region: the CRÉA manages the artistic directorship of the concerts at the Abbaye de Fontevraud (concerts which are subject to CRÉA’s recording policy), the Moments Musicaux de L’Hermitage (La Baule), the CMC (Chamber Music Concerts, Nantes), the Spiritual Concerts (Nantes) and La Folle Journée.
Its influence is felt beyond the borders of the Loire region with the Festival International de piano in La Roque d’Anthéron, the concerts in La Grange de Meslay, the concert seasons at the Théâtre de Nîmes, in Orléans (Fortissimo), as well as international events.
Under René Martin’s directorship, CRÉA now has about ten employees who collaborate in the management of these events: programming (René Martin), logistics and production, administration and dramaturgy.