Ina Donna (2019) Quince Vocal Ensemble, Hertz Hall, Berkeley, April 2019
Après tel février (2013)
text: Elke de Rijcke
Après tel février – After a certain February is in a way a study of the human voice and it’s manipulation with the means of electronics. The piece was a final work of Cursus 1 – an eight month course at the research center for electro-acoustic music IRCAM. Together with Mezzo-soprano Anaïs Bertrand we found a natural way for her to produce a broken, multiphonique tone. The poems of Elke de Rijcke, with the physical sensation they give, possessed the right kind of atmosphere and structure for this powerful, ripping yet beautiful timbre.
One main goals was to try to find a flexible way of handling time in the performance situation. That the performer would feel comfortable and free while performing with the electronics. This was achieved by using live electronics that follow the performer rather than the performer following the electronics. Another goal was to find very natural sounding ways to manipulate the human voice. The electronic part multiplies the singer into a small group of singers which are then set into dialogue with each other.
The poem by Rijcke Après tel février – Piliers de béton is painting a portrait of a woman during the last months of pregnancy, when the badly slept nights start to govern the days. She doesn’t go out, but paces restlessly small circles inside her flat. The solemn but strong atmosphere of the poem is reflected in the fragile breaths and strong expressiveness in the music.
Freedom from Fear (2017)
for oboe, electronics and lights
Freedom from Fear reflects the thoughts of Aung San Suu Kyi (b. 1945), Burmese politician and freedom fighter. She spent 15 years in house arrest under the Burmese military dictatorship until she was released in 2010. During and after the house arrest Kyi gained international acclaim and received many honours including the Nobel Peace Prize.
After listening and watching many interviews by Kyi, I became fascinated with her thought how “in any country, if the majority is determined to follow a certain path, they will be able to do it, sooner or later”. It seems almost a miracle that the Burmese military dictatorship has finally turned into democracy in the 2010’s. The majority of Burmese people had joined forces. Together they had also overcome fear that is related to the fact that most protests in Burma were brutally interrupted by military action.
“Freedom from Fear” – one of the most famous Aung San Suu Kyi quotes as well as other direct quotes taken from her interviews are transcribed for oboe and woven into the oboe textures. These delicate keyclicks and airy sounds share the stage with powerful and noisy multiphonics and glissandi that represent the strength and power of the thought over brutal violence. Two loudspeaker arrays – the small home-made ones on stage and the large ones placed around the audience – create two different spaces. The intimate on-stage space is illuminated by lights that are built into these small speakers. Following the loudness of the keyclicks and airy sounds of the oboe, each of the speakers flickers at its own pace. The lights changing from white to blue and then towards orange and red portray the political climate change from serenity into a state of uncertainty. The electronics culminate through the peaceful demonstrations of 2016-17 in the US into the chaos of the Burmese Saffron Revolution of 2007.
It is always today (2015)
2ch acousmatic piece for radioplay
Dreamlike radiophonic piece It is always today (2015) is an inner journey from conflict and isolation towards resolution and opening up again. What has happened remains for the listener to interpret. In the beginning of the piece, the narrator wraps inside their thoughts, is on an island and is an island at the same time. The piece begins with the first poem by Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen from collection Saari – The Island: ‘All days begin from a single day, As I walk I clutch a stone in my hand, From words an island, from the Island boundaries’. The storyline of the piece is carried out by Huotarinen’s aphoristic poems and it leads inevitably towards the resolution, being free and stepping out again and embracing the world. The poems by Elke de Rijcke in French bring flashes from another world, a busy airport, into to piece. However, passing through an airport, where all emotions die and are ‘torn to pieces in the agonising cold’ is also lonely. The narrator leaves everything behind with one aggressive take-off of an ‘enormous red aircraft’. ‘The wing runs diagonally through the terminal corridor […] and the gash is bathed in blood.’ It is always today rotates around the thoughts of the narrator and all days seem to be alike. The name reflects to the piece also in another way. Every single moment there’s a chance, a possibility to start over and build into a different kind of ending. After the dramatic resolution the narrative of the piece changes its direction and day changes into evening ‘a hot breeze caresses my face, my hair lifts up but my body remains immobile’. Icy shell has flaked away and coldness has changed into a warm breeze on a Parisian balcony.
for ensemble and electronics
Earthship is a house that is designed to be in harmony with the surrounding nature. The building materials are natural and recycled – used tires, soda cans, bottles, clay, stones. The energy efficient building is designed to run mostly on solar power. The building collects its own water and food is grown in its greenhouse. Rather than resisting the forces of nature, this building is nurtured by them.
The destruction of nature leads to extinction, the most fragile animals and insects have already started to disappear. As the destruction spreads the diversity of our surrounding world will start to fade. Like the building, Earthship (2015) builds on natural and recycled material. It travels through rich natural habitats and draws portraits of its residents. The electronic part is built of the sounds of endangered species of insects and animals.
Earthship is composed for the final round of Feeding Music International Composition Contest 2015 hosted by Divertimento Ensemble.