December was another very important moment for my path as an acousmonium performer. I played on the final round of the concourse “L’espace du Son”. This competition happens every second year at the INFLUX festival, which is the festival organized by Annette Vande Gorne in Bruxelles.
My excitement was huge, and it increased even further after I discovered who else was playing: François Bayle and Francis Dhomont were opening the festival on the first night’s concert, Hans Tutschku - who I was very curious to see performing - was also playing.
The first concert was incredibile. I must say that I’ve been arguing in the past that many of the new works of both the French composers might be aesthetically irrelevant today. I’m still of that Idea, the pieces they played didn’t really stand out and were just incomparable to other kinds of masterpieces they got us used to. But the craft, that one can appreciate only through actually an attentive listening in the acousmonium, was incredible. The experience of these two musicians was just so great that the room was singing and the space was alive. I think this concert was one of the best sound experiences of the past two years for me.
The four pieces I got to play at the concerts were the following ones:
- Zone by M.Marcoux, the assigned piece that everyone had to perform. I was not very fond of it but I must admit that it was probably a good piece to show off certain diffusion techniques
- Offshore by David Berezan, I picked this one because I think that the kind of glittery sounds he uses and the big bass presence are features that I can find often again in my own pieces, and it would have felt like playing something that I felt confident with.
- Le vertige inconnu by Gilles Gobeil, this was the first of the two pieces randomly selected from a batch of my choice. I am especially connected to this piece which was the first I ever analyzed at the beginning of my bachelor. I know the piece very well and I like its power.
- Turenas by John Chowning, this is a real classic, also chosen randomly from that batch. It proved itself to be a real challenge. While being aesthetically fitting my set, because it was very different in terms of sounds and felt very refreshing, it was also very long and originally not meant for spatialization. In facts this is a quadriphonic piece of which we had a stereo reduction. I tried to work it out in the best possible way but I must admit it wasn’t easy.
The performance went very well and I was pretty satisfied in the end. After the concert I knew I had been quite unorthodox in my way of playing. I was very loud and I deliberately chose not to accompany every musical gesture. I liked my sounds to act more static too, creating big walls, overwhelming immersive pictures.
I didn’t win - the price was given ex-aequo to Emma Margetson, a PhD student in Birmingham who I met the year before, and to Raphaele Dupire, a pupil of Denis Dufour, whose performance I really liked a lot - but I had the chance to have a quick exchange with François Bayle after my performance, who complimented my verve and personality. This got me high.
But it would not be me if I was completely uncritical, therefore I feel the urge to express how, even here, the stress put on networking was huge. I felt often a bit lost in the movements of the people around me, the way people interacted, who was I supposed to talk to? And why?
I started growing the feeling that this way of behaving in the field does not suit my personality and makes me very uncomfortable. I rarely had any meaningful conversation in any of these situations.