piano and chamber orchestra (22 musicians)

“At about fifteen years of age, some of the young people left in search of a vision. They went deep into the forest for about a fortnight, without provisions, and waited for the spirit to show itself to them and to foretell their future. It is also at this age that the young men received their personal chant (Adonwe in Iroquois), which would henceforth identify them in case of danger.”

— Bruce Trigger, The Children of Aataentsic.

Reading this passage from Bruce Trigger’s book at a crucial moment in the working out of this composition served as a focus toward which all previous musical and non-musical ideas could converge.

The young Indian (the piano) does not have the easy part—as in all initiatic trials of identity and belonging. In his rapport with the orchestra (which represents in some way the real environment as he interiorizes it—forest, fauna, humans of his tribe), he passes through great confusion (1st and 2nd parts: counterpoint in four layers), and then a confrontation, perceived by bits and pieces (3rd part: counterpoint piano/orchestra), a dialogue (4th and 5th parts: the music becoming progressively more antiphonal, questions/answers moving towards overlapping, rapid alternation, the “hocket”), some “focusing” attempts (6th part: heterophony) followed by inspiriting unanimity (7th part: homorythm developed at length in successive accelerandi). At the end of this exploration, when the adonwe is revealed (8th part: a long ornamented monody played by the piano and its doublings, the orchestra becoming deeply spacious and abundant), it is a little like the onset of conscious awareness.

Besides being a metaphor for the discovery or the invention of the self, Adonwe — the concerto — can also be “understood” as a metaphor for the creative pro-cess in any realm, including the artistic. Self-portrait of the composer as a young Huron… It is based on material which I had been developing since 1989 and which was latent even in my earliest pieces. The melodic form of this material is something like my own adonwe.

Michel Gonneville [ii-07]