Premiere: December 14, 2021, 55e anniversaire de la SMCQ: Aujourd’hui et demain…, Salle Pierre-Mercure — Centre Pierre-Péladeau, Montréal (Québec)

In 1986, a few months after the founding of the Société des concerts alternatifs du Québec (now Codes d’Accès), Jean-Jacques Nattiez, then music director of the Orchestre Joliette-Lanaudière, had the idea of commissioning works from three composers who were members of the organization, including me. Although this project was long in coming, it allowed me to obtain my first grants as a composer.

While I was writing it, I was reading Albert Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus,” which had a profound effect on me and inspired the title of my piece. Ironically, this title was predestined if we consider that, 33 years later, tonight, we are witnessing the premiere of the work. Indeed, although a few years after its composition (1997), L’absurde travail won a jury mention at the sixth edition of the prestigious Goffredo Petrassi International Composition Competition (Arturo Toscanini Foundation, Parma, Italy), it has never been performed. And it’s not for lack of trying.

The work is dedicated to the memory of Serge Garant, with whom I had the good fortune to study analysis and composition for two years, hence the omnipresence of the B flat, the missing note of the theme of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Musical Offering,” both of which (the missing note and the theme) were of great importance in the structure of Garant’s Offrandes I, II et III.

L’absurde travail was written at a time when simulation software were not available and our only choice was to try, as best as we could, to mentally picture the result of the compositional work. I will therefore discover the work in all its richness along with the audience.