“This year, La Chambre aux échos has been invited to Novalis not simply as a guest ensemble, but in a spirit of deeper collaboration that suits the vision shared by the artistic directors of both the collective and the festival. We have conceived the programs together, and crafted an ambitious four days packed with challenging art, crossing borders in meanings much deeper than geography. The instrumentalists and the vocal artist we have chosen from our most trusted collaborators embody a generation and a way of making art – with a deep respect for works and audiences, new and old.“Joint statement by the Novalis Festival and La Chambre aux échos
As an ensemble associated with the first edition of the Novalis Festival – launched in 2014 in the Croatian town of Novalja by composer Davor Branimir Vincze – we have participated in the conception of an ambitious program: different approaches, exposed in three concerts/shows (each presented twice), to both the question of making contemporary music accessible to new audiences, and of renewing the traditional concert format. The angle being that these two questions need to help solve each other.
To bring this project to fruition, we called on two of the company’s key collaborators: the ensemble Secession Orchestra (in a light 11-musician format) and singer/performer Marianne Seleskovitch. We were joined by two other Festival guests: Italian percussionist Simone Beneventi, and the German duo Leise Dröhnung.
Dances & Trances
Novalja is a highly touristic town, attracting a young, cosmopolitan summer crowd. Our Dances & Trances program plays with the expectations of an audience who came to dance: the pulsation they’re used to turns into a more subtle rhythmical play, and the nocturnal ritual of clubbing might turn into shamanism.
From Steve Reich’s hypnotic repetitions to Salvatore Sciarrino’s ironic pastiches, from Bernhard Lang’s computations to Howard Shore’s syncretism, and with Kaija Saariaho’s miniatures as leading the way, the audience was provoked with a surprising and explosive set.
The concert, conducted by Clément Mao-Takacs, was shrouded in luminous ambiances designed by Aleksi Barrière: the electric light of diodes and the compulsive beams of Sharpy projectors, materializing a new physical and musical architecture, expanded and completed the experience.
The concert was also performed on Novalja’s Trg Ruža vjetrova square.
Videos conceived as interpretations of musical works (Linda Weinmann’s for Davor Vincze’s Inflection Point), music that provides videos with a soundtrack (Remmy Canedo’s electronic creation for Corinde Durand’s Naufrage), or even organically realized audiovisual works (such as composer Bernd Härpfer and video artist Pascal Fendrich’s Stargate) were intertwined into the Nouvelle(s) Vague(s) program. These revivals were interwoven with new works commissioned for the festival: Mu-Xuan Lin composed an orchestral sound universe to a video by Claudia Joskowicz, while Kim Ashton and Juha T. Koskinen, invited by La Chambre aux échos, wrote works inspired by different theatrical and visual materials, which in turn gave rise to new videos directed by Aleksi Barrière. The collaboration with Juha T. Koskinen later grew into the music theatre piece Ophelia/Tiefsee.
On the occasion of the Festival’s partnership with the open-air cinema “Hollywood”, we imagined with artistic director Davor B. Vincze a program designed exalting the multifaceted relationship between contemporary music and video art, which has recently given rise to a number of fruitful collaborations.
To this ambitious program were added two segues, into the strong visuality of instrumental playing and the cinematic evocative power of orchestral music, respectively: a work by Wojtek Blecharz performed by Simone Beneventi, and a fourth world premiere by our regular collaborator, percussionist and composer Guillaume Le Picard. Musical direction was provided by Clément Mao-Takacs, and video and lighting direction by Aleksi Barrière.
Sequences is a work in progress developed by director Aleksi Barrière and singer Marianne Seleskovitch over the last few years, the gradual addition of further “chapters” slowly but surely expanding an a cappella recital/theatre that is also a genuine vocal tour de force. This process would later culminate in the show Give Me A Few Words.
This time, approaching its final form, Sequences included the world premiere of fragments of Ophelia (Sequences and Songs) by Clément Mao-Takacs, a work written specifically for Marianne Seleskovitch’s voice. This variation on Ophelia’s “mad songs” in Hamlet is also a synthesis of contemporary vocal technique and a culmination of the musical meditation on language, communication and trauma initiated by the collaborators in the other works featured in Sequences, by Berio, Cage, Scelsi, Feldman and Isou.
Lectures & Discussions
Faithful to its desire to accompany the act of performance through verbalization and engaging in dialogue with the audience, La Chambre aux échos took part in the round-table discussions organized and conducted daily by the Festival’s artistic director Davor B. Vincze.
Aleksi Barrière and Clément Mao-Takacs contributed their own experience and thoughts to the round of the composers and performers in attendance, enabling an audience of newcomers to discover what happens behind the scenes of contemporary musical creation, and what questions it tries to answer.
The artists of La Chambre aux échos received the STEP Beyond travel grant from the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) for this project. They also wish to thank Music Sales for the loan of orchestra material.