Maïwenn Ekoué

Maïwenn was born on 19 June 1983 in Paris. She grew up in the Paris suburb of Sceaux. At the age of seven, she was admitted at Bourg-la-Reine Music Conservatory under the instruction of Ghislaine PETIT VOLTA. After 10 years of study in classical music, she obtained a gold medal for harp and a degree in music studies. Maïwenn achieved multiple experiences during the course of her studies.

She has taken part in contemporary creations within the orchestra of the conservatory, a tour in France as a choral singer with the famous actor Michael LONSDALE, and in musical tales incorporating theatre, music and dance.

In 1998, she participated in her first harp Master Class, enrolling in summer courses at the renowned Academy of Harp Pierre JAMET in Gargilesse. She continues being a student of Corinne LEDU. It is with great pride and emotion that she goes back, 14 years later, and this time to play on the main stage with her jazz quintet.

In 1999, Maïwenn participated in the International Congress in Prague to play the harp.

In 2001, she was an Artist in Residence, for two weeks, at the Colombier Theater in Saint Leonerd de Noblat, with Annick GAUTHIER on the cello and Nicole MANDEMENT at the piano. At the end of this twoo week sojourn, a concert was given by the three musicians, playing works by Planel, Pierné, Rousseau, Vivaldi and Saint Saëns. Maïwenn also volunteered her talent and played for the telethon at a recital at the Eglise de Vineuil (in the Loir et Cher region).

In 2002, Maïwenn played with the Naccara group, which was composed of 6 harps, a double bass and percussion. At the same time she was preparing for the entrance exam for the Paris Conservatory of Music by doing 2 summers internships. She passed the exam in first place. So she continued her music studies at the Paris Conservatory under the guidance of Brigitte SYLVESTRE.

In 2005 she received her first prize for harp. While still in school, she became the first harpist in the Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestra of the Paris Conservatory with which she participated in several events: The Solemn Ceremony of the Institute of France, a concert on the steps of the City of Paris, a concert at the Mogador Theatre.

She also performs with The Symphony Orchestra of Yvelines, the Orchestra of the Music Education Department, the Ensemble Vocal of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, in prestigious venues such as the Salle Cortot, the Pavillon Dauphine in Paris, Prism in Elancourt, the Cultural Space André Malraux in Kremlin-Bicêtre…

From 2004 to 2005 she was the harpist at the grand Royal Monceau Palace Hotel, playing 2-3 nights a week.

In 2005 Maïwenn becomes a professor of harp studies at the Bourg-la-Reine Conservatory of Music.

With her class of over 40 participants, she produces and directs a show about movie scores. In the same year she gives a concert with her jazz trio which comprises of Frederick HOCHAIN on the flute and Julien LESSELIER on the drums, an event organized by the Rotary Club of Paris for the International Rotary celebrations.

Maïwenn is always seeking new ways to explore the practice of her instrument. She is very interested in contemporary music and musical theatre which she knows will broaden her knowledge. She works on contemporary creations with composers like Marie-Hélène FOURNIER, Ton-Thât TIET and Georges APERGHIS.

Her interest in various types of music makes her want to continue her studies in a jazz school, Edim in Cachan in 2005. This is where, for 3 years, she follows the classes with Laurent COQ, Vincent JACQ, Patrick FRADET and Daniel BEAUSSIER.

She meets Willy EKOUE, a saxophonist, with whom she forms a classical duo. They release their first album, “Sonates en Duo” This unusual alliance between a soprano saxophone and a harp, demands arrangements especially for this work. They record Debussy, Spohr, Handel and Bach. They also decide to combine their music with sculpture with the help of the artist Bernard THIMONNIER. Through their works, the music of Sonates en Duo reflects sound colors and rhythms.

They tour France for 2 years, giving a series of concerts, mostly in chapels and cathedrals, where the acoustics fit perfectly to their music.

In 2008, they signed a contract with the prestigious brand of crystal Swarovski, in France, giving concerts for the launch of their new collection to their exclusive clients.

“Sonates en Duo” has played in several private events: Americans celebrating their weddings in France (At the Rodin museum in Paris, the Expiatory Chapel in Paris, Castles in Normandy, the George V Palace Hotel in Paris, the American Church in Paris...), for corporate events (Thermor Company Batimat for the annual congress of architects of France), private weddings, inaugurations (The Matisse museum in Cateau-Cambresis).

In 2009, Maïwenn records the original musical soundtrack of the movie 24-42, composed by pianist Macha GHARIBIAN. The film was presented at the Cannes Film Festival the same year and was produced by “Les Films d’Arthyane Productions”.

In 2010, she played in the album “Il était une voix” of the Congolese singer, Helmie BELLINI, which was recorded in the studios of the famous jazz pianist Laurent DE WILDE, sponsor and artistic director of this project.

In 2011, Maïwenn sets up “Twinkel Quintet”, an electro-acoustic experimental jazz band with singer Anissa BENSALAH, saxophonist Willy EKOUE, double-bass player Guillaume DUVIGNAU and drummer Julien VERDIER. Twinkel Quintet explores an unlimited repertory where freedom of expression and experimentation are revealed through Maïwenn compositions and arrangements of jazz standards, original acoustic browsing with stamps and appliances. For Maïwenn, the Twinkel Quintet represents, above all, a desire to access and develop a musical project based on her instrument, the harp, - an instrument that is little known in this kind of music, and which provides great scope for creativity. Indeed, the music of the Twinkel Quintet is music that is at the crossroads of jazz and contemporary music, full of moods and colors that awaken and challenge our curiosity.

Twinkel Quintet has performed in famous Parisian Jazz Clubs including the Sunset-Sunside, “Jazz pas grave” (Jazz festival), in Gargilesse and Maubeuge Harp festivals, for the General Council of the Doubs and in Parisian venues such as the Golden Age, aux lumières, the Belleviloise, the Gibus, the Entrepôt, the Manufacture 111, the Petit Bain…

In 2012, Maïwenn becomes a teacher for the harp class of Isabelle OLIVIER. She teaches harp to about 30 students at the School of Arts in Marcoussis. She even organizes the first course for harp in the Paris suburb of Cachan.

In 2013, she played in the album “Matriz” of the Algerian-Brazilian singer, Anissa BENSALAH. Between Afro-Brazilian rhythms and North Africa, Bossa-jazz harmonies and oriental melodies, Anissa explores new musical language, which overcomes the prejudices and questions of identity.

In February, 2014, Maïwenn organized a workshop for the harp, at the Ecole des Arts de Marcoussis (the School of the Arts in Marcoussis). This project focused on the music of West Africa, and collaborating on this were two percussionists from Burkina Faso: Lassina ZOUON and Salif DRAME. Several actors and dancers also collaborated on this project, as well as around thirty children.  A concert to mark the end of the workshop was presented at the Salle Jean-Montaru, in Marcoussis.

On April 1, 2014, Maïwenn was part of the panel of jury members, evaluating the students at the end of their first cycle of musical studies from the music schools of Buc, Jouy-en-Josas, and Viroflay, and also the examination of the mastery of the harp, at the Chateau de Buc.

From 2014 to 2016, tour with MaaSanké Band created by Maïwenn EKOUE with saxophone Willy EKOUE and balafon Sory DIABATE (CMG in Paris in France, Baiser Salé in Paris in France, Musical center FGO Barbara in Paris in France, Etoile du Nord in Paris in France, Periscope in Lyon in France, Castle of sans soucis in Lyon in France, Le caveau les Lyonnais in Lyon in France, Théâtre de la Mackellerie in Roubaix in France, Atelier culture in Dunkerque in France, Cultural Center in Conakry in Guinea).

From 2015 to 2016, many concerts with her classical formation “Sonates en Duo”:

  • Expiatory Chapel in Paris in France

  • American Church in Paris in France

  • Mona Bismark American Center in Paris in France

  • Castle of Esclimont in France

  • Castle of Reignac in Indre in France

  • Castle in Dordogne in France

  • Town Hall in Paris in France

  • Castle of La Bourdaisière in Montlouis-sur-Loire in France…

 

She participates in the album of the Guinean artist Mohammed CAMARA duet with the kora player Kandia CISSOKO.

In 2016, Maïwenn performed with the flutist Camille MAROUANI, at the American Cathedral of Paris, in a series of concerts that were dedicated to French music of the 20th century.

She also gave solo performances at several gala evenings and at very prestigious venues such as the famous Lapérouse restaurant in Paris, on a Parisian river boat, at some of the Castles in the Loir et Cher region, at the 7-star Shangri-La hotel in Paris, and at the ‘Chapelle Expiatoire’, also in Paris.

In June 2016, Maïwenn was contacted by the Ivoirian choreographer and dancer Papson SYLLA, who had been impressed by her playing at one of her concerts in Paris.  Papson SYLLA is now working with Maïwenn on a major show that will focus on her harp, with other artists also performing, among them the soprano saxophonist Willy EKOUÉ, the percussionist Alhassane Dartagnan CAMARA, and two dancers from the Papson Company.  The production is called ‘We Are All Guilty’. This project, currently in progress, will bring the whole company of performers together in August 2016, to work together on the creation of this show, and to go into rehearsals for it.

 

Maïwenn is currently busy writing and composing a new project:

A production called ‘MaaSanké’, composed and directed by her, based on the ‘electro harp’. This project will be performed by seven musicians (the electro harp, balafon, vocals, saxophone, trombone, percussion instruments and double bass), and two dancers.

‘MaaSanké’ brings together several artists from the African continent (Guinea, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Togo), from France and the overseas territories such as Ile de la Reunion and Martinique, and from Columbia.  And thanks to her electro harp - a symbol of a new generation of musical instruments, – Maïwenn extends her musical persona to an aural field that she renders even more creative by the use of a special effects pedal.

 

In March 2017, she got an artist Visa the o-1 to settle in Los Angeles. She now teaches the harp at the French Conservatory of Music in Beverly Hills.

She also plays with the female band Adaawee.

 

Playing for Swarovski's VIP Customer in Saint-Germain-Des-Près - Paris, France