Following his training at the Parisian Conservatoire (1980-86), where he obtained several premiers prix, Marc-André Dalbavie spent five years engaged in research at Ircam, and a year studying conducting with Pierre Boulez (1987-88). He currently serves as professor of orchestration at the Conservatoire, and composer-in-residence for the Cleveland Orchestra.
As early as 1982, and along with a few other composers of his generation, Dalbavie took an interest in the artistic potential of spectral music in the areas of timbre and through the process itself. It was during this period that he developed his polyphonic and rhythmic techniques and procedures, as well as his formal principals of recurrence. He learned to integrate heterogeneous and spatial phenomena electronically, and exploit computer music applications and acoustics.
While the 1980s came to represent a decade of fascination with timbre and colour for Dalbavie (e.g., Miroirs transparents and Diadèmes), the 1990s led him to a greater exploration of the idea of space and site. The composer set himself the task of creating the musical equivalent of a work in situ, as well as classifying the possibilities offered by the spatiality associated with orchestral writing. In Seuils, electronic equipment is arranged around the audience, and the poetic text refers back to the space in which it is voiced. The use of baroque instruments binds the Concertino to a piece from the seventeenth century (Locke’s Curtain Tune). L’Offertoire for male chorus and orchestra suggests virtual spaces simulated in the writing for the choir. With part of the orchestra seated around the audience, Dalbavie’s violin concerto breaks the barriers of the traditional concert, and in so doing, redefines the very idea of the concerto. Finally, in Non-Lieu (text by Guy Lelong), the stage is completely emptied: four female choirs and an instrumental ensemble are spread out in the hall amongst the audience.