Premiere: February 28, 2013, Montréal / Nouvelles Musiques 2013: Étal mixte et autres contres, Église Sainte-Brigide, Montréal (Québec)

Since the very beginnings of l’Ensemble Mruta Mertsi in 1993, I have worked at developing a technique of controlled improvisation for vocal ensemble; this method effectively turns each singer into a creator and each passing moment of the piece into an act of creation, in the absence of which the piece could not exist. With time, I came to ask that each singer invent a short solo, an autonomous composition inspired by the form of the japanese haïku. In Étal mixte, these sung “haïkus” formed the starting point and the inspiration for much of the musical material of the work. I met with each chorister individually to help them develop a “contemporary” aspect to their compositions, all the while striving to achieve a certain consistency of style between the various solos. These short pieces, which I went on to create arrangements for, are now an integral part of the overall work, vital to and strongly informing its essential character.

The presence of the Chœur Bref and the theatricality of its vocalisations, as well as that of Sarah Williams’ choreography, magnify for me the emotions and the sense of human history that I feel emanates from the empty church. This ephemeral choir also allows us a spatialisation of the vocal sounds, which gives us the impression that we are, in some way, honoring the space, with its echoes, its history—underscoring the human, emotional dimension of the work.

André Pappathomas [English translation: Rachel Burman, iv-13]