3 singers, 3 percussions and 9 instruments

Premiere: February 27, 2013, Montréal / Nouvelles Musiques 2013: Chants du Nord, Théâtre Rouge — Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, Montréal (Québec)

The student uproar against the hike in tuition fees in Québec during the spring of 2012, as well as the timely reading of Margaret Atwood’s lectures Payback. Debt or the shadow Side of Wealth convinced me thoroughly that the vocal work commissioned to me by the Victoria-based Aventa Ensemble should be based on a treatment of this theme of Debt. My daughter Laurie immediately embraced the subject and presented me with a very inspiring storyline and text that, along the few musical guidelines I initially had in mind, was to become a dramatic cantata. And so came the Voyages of a woman (the soprano) and her Visits, first walking to a man (the barytone) impersonating a Father, a Teacher and a Politician, then flying to a foreign country to a woman (the mezzo-soprano), successively an immigration Agent, an Employer and a Lover. After fleeing from the weighty heritage of the first three characters, she then tries to be worthy of the gifts of her adoptive land. The trip back home conveys a slow “introflection”. Both efforts, fleeing and obligingness, are useless in the face of a societal system of interpersonal, intergenerational and international debt, perpetual and never to be redeemed. The final solo and chorus recognize this simple fact, suggested by a will to maintain communication between debtor and creditor, forever mutually dependent. In addition to acknowledging my debt to all those who helped build my musical sensitivity and my artistic personality, I wish to thank my daughter, the interpreters, all sponsor and its artistic director, the producers of this concert and tour that will follow, as well as the Canada Council for the Arts.