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Germany: Michel Gosselin, General Manager of Mercure Fürth, talks to us about his Foundation’s project

Michel Gosselin, General Manager of Mercure Fürth (Germany) presented to the Accor Foundation a solidarity project targeting the reinsertion of disabled youngsters through music. Approved by the Board of Directors on 14 February 2011, the “Berufung Musiker” project (Musician by vocation) receives €62,000 worth of support from the Accor Foundation for the years 2011 and 2012.

The Vollgas group, made up of 8 young disabled, will complete its training at the Fürth Music school in September 2011. A second group, already partly made up, will be formed thanks to the funding provided by the Accor Foundation. It is not just this group, but the entire “Berufung Musiker” (Musician by vocation) concept that receives the Accor Foundation’s support.

What will be the Vollgas group’s activity once they have completed their learning?

Michel Gosselin_ The Vollgas group will remain together and will continue to attend workshops in the school of music. The machine is up and running but requires maintenance. They continue to organise tours every year. They recently played with another group of the Fürth Music school, and thus obtained financial aid from the regional savings bank. This means they are becoming autonomous.

The Vollgas group played with the renowned Quadro Nuevo quartet. What did the quartet think of the musical abilities of the young members of the Vollgas group?

Michel Gosselin_ The Quadro Nuevo musicians said: “For us professional musicians, this experience has been one of the strongest in our lives as musicians. It has been incredibly enriching for us.”
The young people of the Vollgas group progress differently but the Quadro Nuevo musicians were bowled over by their musical abilities. It’s amazing to see how far they’ve advanced in such a short time.

This programme was designed to contribute to make young disabled persons autonomous, to help their insertion in society. Do you see any change in the development, the personal evolution in the young members of the Vollgas group?

Michel Gosselin_  Absolutely. I have known them for 2 years. At the time, they were shy, they barely spoke up, they were scared. Now they have broken out. This programme has opened them up to the outside world, given them a feeling of security. The Vollgas accordionist saw me from the stage one day and waved at me. He would never have done that a year or six months ago.
What is so amazing is that this also helps others to open up. The Fürth Music school has one hundred mentally challenged students. They know what the Vollgas group has done and that helps them gain confidence in themselves.

The Fürth Music school seems “special”. Do other schools apply the same model in Germany, or around the world?

Michel Gosselin_  Yes, this school is special, it is extraordinary. It was founded by Robert Wagner 25 years ago. The musicians of the Quadro Nuevo quartet who have taught in music schools told me that this school is an uncharacteristic.
The model of the Vollgas group starts to be an inspiration internationally. During a concert at an integrative music festival, there were groups of disabled children and young people from Fürth, from elsewhere in Germany, from Austria… Switzerland is also very interested and is starting to implement actions.

As the project holder, what is your role regarding the group and the project?

Michel Gosselin_  My role is obviously to monitor it and liaise between the Fürth Music school and the Accor Foundation. And whenever I can, I also help promote and make the group known. In particular, I introduced them to the Quadro Nuevo quartet, who wants to invite them to play at a charity concert next year.