soprano and amplified chamber ensemble

Premiere: February 23, 2019, Montréal / Nouvelles Musiques 2019: mouvance, Studio-théâtre Alfred-Laliberté — UQAM, Montréal (Québec)

mouvance… always further you say… until the end of the world… and the end of the world is blue…

These words, by the Acadian poet Gérald Leblanc are at the basis of the multimedia show that you are about to experience with us tonight. They express the feelings that Suzie and I have been cherishing for a long time and that have led to a very intense artistic collaboration.

Suzie is Acadian, originally from Moncton and currently living in Montréal. I am from Quebec and living in Halifax for nearly fifteen years. Although we migrated within the same country, we both felt detached nonetheless as Canada is such a large and diverse country, linguistically and culturally. We each had the opportunity to reflect extensively on the matter according to our relative experience.

I made this reflection, among others, while writing a piece for voice and bass clarinet in 2009, based on the poem mouvance by Gérald Leblanc. Personally, I think that this long text contains the essence of the Acadian drama: detachment and migration without ever referring to it directly, without suffering nor regrets. I was immediately tempted by the power of those words that make you travel in time and space, by the pictures that they evoke and by their modernism.

Suzie, on the other hand, uses the recording Tout Passe (ATMA 2008) as her guide enabling her to explore the migration (uprooting) of her ancestors through Acadian songs. These migrations include the Great Upheaval (1755), relocation for employment purposes or moving away to find land to clear. It is easier to talk about something when we have experienced it ourselves and Suzie walked hundreds of kilometers in search of songs. On her way, she met women who taught her local songs as well as historian and researcher Georges Arseneault from Prince Edward Island. In 2006, she took this heritage with her on the way to Compostela and she chose the directory of Tout Passe in her wake. “My occupation as a professional singer brings me closer to a more nomadic existence and this symbolic and universal exploration of human migration touches me in a very personal way. The sociological, political, economic and artistic climate has always been nourished by migration but today we see an acceleration of these free or imposed movements. At the same time we are also going through a physical and societal mobility that is slowly moving us away from our being and our natural environment.”

In the fall of 2015, Suzie interpreted my musical setting of the poem mouvance in concert in Halifax. From then on we decided to use this as a starting point for the elaboration of a complete show on the universal theme of mobility, migration and uprooting. The words of Sarah Marylou Brideau, Herménégilde Chiasson, France Daigle, Léonard Forest, Céleste Godin, Georgette LeBlanc, Gabriel Robichaud, Serge Patrice Thibodeau and Roméo Savoie were added to Gérald Leblanc’s text.

Our project was given a new dimension with the help of the following people: Phil Comeau who provided us with his marvelous poetry of images. François Racine projected our vision in space and time and Karen Track utilises techniques from here and elsewhere to transform words into objects. Finally the following musicians joined us: Norman Adams, D’Arcy Gray, Jeff Torbert and Eileen Walsh. We would also like to thank DJ Jonah Haché, lighting designer Vicky Williams and a wonderful group of Fountain School of Performing Arts students.

Tonight, we invite you to travel with us until the end of the world

[i-19]

Performance