Grégoire Pont’s remarkable work avoids easy technical effects and always sticks to the truth of text and music. Never had the meaning of 'spells' been so well embodied. The result is a masterwork where the stage setting shows unexpected details, designed with a great sense of poetry on the screen.
Classique News, L’Enfant et les sortilèges, Opéra National de Lyon, November 2016
An exceptional artistic talent from the tender age of eight, Grégoire Pont attended the Animation Workshop in Paris where he studied Norman McLaren’s techniques of animation dynamics. He graduated from the Penninghen school of Graphic Arts (ESAG) in 1992 and shortly thereafter directed his first animated film Le concerto du chat, with abstract drawings painted on glass or drawn directly on the film.
This short film depicted shapes dancing to the sounds of the instruments in an orchestral rehearsal and was recorded with the Orchestre de Paris at Salle Pleyel. Pont then spent ten years at Ubisoft, the French global software development company, where he worked on a number of educational CD-Rom programmes such as ‘Guitar Lessons’ and ‘Beaux-Arts Lessons’. He also created ‘The Cosmic Family’, a series of interactive cartoon characters. An important stage in Pont’s creative development came in 2000 when he participated in a master class with the great Canadian animation director Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Thief and the Cobbler), allowing him to deepen his knowledge of the fluidity in animation.
A great lover of classical music, especially 20th century composers such as Debussy, Ravel, Koechlin, Poulenc and Strauss, Pont has always been passionate about making classical music more popular and accessible to both children and adults by means of animation. He developed a new performance concept called ‘Cinesthetics’ where he draws and animates live to a musical performance. His refreshing approach, and the wit and insight of his animations, are gaining him plaudits around the world. He has made appearances at London Royal Festival Hall, Paris Philharmonie, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Tokyo Suntory Hall and Gothenburg Concert Hall, collaborating with conductors such as Kent Nagano, Kazushi Ono, Alexandre Bloch and François-Xavier Roth.
Pont has also received great acclaim for bringing his innovative animation techniques to the operatic repertoire. Together with British director James Bonas he conceived productions at Opéra de Lyon of Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges and L’heure espagnole, and will premiere a new production of Orff’s Der Mond in 2020. The dramatic success of L’Enfant resulted in a revival in 2019 with San Francisco Symphony and performances at Oman’s Royal Opera House, Limoges Opera and Cincinnati Symphony. Pont also created
animations for the semi-staging of Bizet’s Carmen for Orchestre National de Lille.
Pont additionally illustrates books for children, most notably Les Excalibrius, and has made numerous animations for TV commercials, educational animated shorts and music video clips. He has been commissioned by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Denmark) to create animations for Guillaume Connesson’s Disco Toccata by and André Dalbavie’s Flute Concerto. For three seasons, Pont worked with the French conductor François-Xavier Roth and his innovative orchestra Les Siècles on Presto! (France Television). This series of short musical excerpts introduced audiences to popular classical music works via animation and video and was seen by over three million viewers on weekly primetime television.