Valentine Michaud is a saxophonist of extraordinary depth and versatility, with a technique that perfectly blends musical finesse and compelling artistry. A recipient of numerous awards, including the Credit Suisse Jeunes Solistes (2017), and Jurjans Andrejs VI Woodwind International Competition, in 2020 Valentine was the first wind player to be awarded the prestigious Credit Suisse Young Artist Award.

The first ever saxophone soloist to perform with the Vienna Philharmonic, the 2022-23 season will see Valentine debut with the orchestra under the baton of Esa-Pekka Salonen at the Lucerne Festival, where she will perform the world premiere of the saxophone and orchestra version of Anders Hillborg’s Peacock Tales. This season will also see Valentine debut at the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Philharmonie Zuidnederlands with conductor Duncan Ward (recording of the Peacock Tales for Outhere Music), the Folle Journée de Nantes as well as with the Orchestra Wellington performing John Psathas’ saxophone concerto Zahara.

Recent highlights include debuts with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vasily Petrenko performing the Glaznuov saxophone concerto, the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande with conductor Maxim Pascal performing John Adams Saxophone Concerto, as well as Valentine’s debut in the Lucerne Symphony’s recital series.

Valentine has appeared as a soloist, recitalist and in chamber music groups on many of the world’s leading stages, including KKL Luzern, London’s Wigmore Hall, Grand Philharmonic Hall St Petersburg, Wiener Konzerthaus, Tonhalle Zurich, Geneva’s Victoria Hall and the Great Guild Hall in Riga, amongst others.

Transdisciplinarity and collaborations

Convinced of the richness of collaborations with other artistic forms and seeking to develop new concert formats, Valentine Michaud co-founded the SIBJA collective with his brother Emmanuel Michaud, visual artist and performer. Together, they created the trilogy of performances WAITING FOR AMON, awarded in 2018 by the Nico Kaufmann Foundation Award, which brings together dancers, musicians and visual artists. In 2020, the collective directed the film «BOTH-Le Dialogue de l’Ombre Double». They also collaborated on Ugo Bottachiari’s previously unpublished opera «L’Ombra» at Operatic in 2022, as a set designer and costume designer. Eager to contribute to the renewal of the repertoire for her instrument, she collaborates with composers of her generation, and with composers such as Alvin Lucier in the Ever Present Orchestra.

Chamber Music

Her duo Akmi, with pianist partner Akvilé Sileikaité, received the Swiss Ambassador Award 2019, as well as 1st Prize in the renowned Orpheus Swiss Chamber Music Competition in 2016 and 2nd Prize in the Salieri Zinetti International Chamber Music Competition in 2018. Together, the two musicians have performed at the Lucerne Festival, Festival Radio France Montpellier, London’s Wigmore Hall and St Petersburg Cappella, among others. Keen to renew the instrument’s repertoire, they regularly commission works from composers, and are about to release their first duo album for Avie Records in November 2023, “Beyond the Wall”.
Since 2002, Valentine has also been performing as a duo with her brother Gabriel Michaud on percussion. They made their debut at La Folle Journée de Nantes in February 2023.

An eclectic education

Valentine began her studies in Nantes following the French school of saxophone with Joël Hérissé, before moving to Switzerland at the age of 16 to study with Pierre-Stéphane Meugé at the Haute Ecole de Musique in Lausanne. She is interested in both contemporary repertoire and works from older periods such as baroque and renaissance. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in saxophone in 2013, while simultaneously studying for a Bachelor’s degree in musicology at Sorbonne University in Paris. After completing her first Master’s degree in instrumental pedagogy, she continued her training from 2015 to 2018 with a second Master’s degree specialising in solo performance with Lars Mlekusch at the Zurich University of the Arts, where she became assistent of Prof. Lars Mlekusch until 2018. 

The daughter of two graphic designers, Valentine chose the saxophone at eight years of age and began learning with Slava Kazykin, who introduced her to klezmer music at a very early stage, as well as to ensemble practice and to appearing on stage (concerts in Kiev in 2006). Two years later, Valentine started studying piano with Ludmila Zvaitseva, and then with Colette Musquer at the Nantes Conservatoire, before completing her studies with Marja-Liisa Marosi at the conservatoire in Lausanne. While she was a member of Jean-Marie Bellec’s jazz class in Nantes, she co-founded the jazz quintet Penta Tonik, which performed at several venues in France between 2006 and 2010 (including Europa Jazz, Rendez-vous de l’Erdre and Jazz in Marciac). These experiences confirmed her taste for performing in groups and her love of the stage.