Program

Source: Henry Donovan Motif UK

Presentation of the works

The Symphony of Deep Layers – World premiere by Joséphine Maillefer

The Symphony of Deep Layers is a musical creation lasting around twenty minutes. This hymn to peace is performed by two soloists (soprano and baritone), a choir and an orchestra, complemented by a manual alarm siren and music boxes.

The work is divided into several pieces that reveal different facets of the human being. The music seeks to bring them together, to find the universal links that bind them, in a search for harmony and appeasement.

The soloists are offered a variety of performance options, including free and individual tempos, and thus play an active part in the composition. The sound texture is obtained by adding their solos together, and the random parameters resulting from the performers’ freedom make each performance unique.

Japanese film music

Film music is very popular, not only in Japan but also in the West. The first part of the concert will focus on Japanese film music featuring the themes of the project: peace, war, and in particular the Second World War. A perfect example of this is the music from Isao Takahata’s film Tomb of the Fireflies (Hotaru no Haka) by Studios Ghibli (Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata).

Pie Jesu by Lili Boulanger (1893-1918)

Lili Boulanger’s Pie Jesu, composed for soprano, string quartet, harp and organ, is the composer’s last work. At the age of 24, Lili Boulanger, then suffering from Crohn’s disease, dictated the piece on her deathbed in 1918 to her sister Nadia. Nadia went on to become one of the greatest musical educators of the twentieth century. Indeed, after the death of her younger sister, she gave up composing and devoted herself to teaching and disseminating Lili’s works.

At the end of this short piece, the harp soothes everything in a final ray of sunshine. Could this be the arrival in heaven? 

In its apparent simplicity, Pie Jesu invites us to feel strong emotions as it journeys towards death and aspires to eternal peace.

Music composed by AI

The second part of the concert will consist of around twenty minutes of music composed by artificial intelligence. Music and numbers have a long history together. It began with Pythagoras (around 500 BC), who described musical harmony as fractions of natural numbers. By using mathematical operations such as inversions and mirrors, Bach in turn came close to algorithmic composition. Given this close relationship between music and mathematics, it is hardly surprising that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart devised his Musikalisches Würfelspiel (published posthumously in 1793), a composition game using dice. In so doing, he created one of the first algorithms for composing music. Later, as part of the Second Viennese School, the composer Schönberg used mathematical operations to break free from the classical rules of music.

With the rich combined history of music and mathematics and the creation of our powerful modern computers, the field of algorithmic composition has now come of age. Formally, a melody can be considered as a sample of a potentially very sophisticated probability distribution over sequences of notes. Because of the ease with which these models can be adapted to data and their expressiveness, learning to compose music is now a reality, using artificial neural networks (AI). From now on, computers can generate audio files from a textual description and also compose scores. The aim of this project is to use these creative tools to compose a unique score that puts peace and human-machine collaboration at the forefront.

Requiem de Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)

In the program designed for this Japan tour, Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem represents human sensitivity. The human voice, in what it can express in the face of the brutality of death, gradually tames the pain to turn it into a luminous, tender song to be shared by the living. 

Thus constructed and conceived in opposition to the great requiems of the 19th century, deemed too grandiloquent or vehement, Fauré’s Requiem is presented as a gentle prayer. The Dies Irae sequence, usually found in a requiem mass, is deliberately omitted by Fauré, as its text is considered too violent.

Composed between 1887 and 1901 (from the first church versions to the symphonic version), this Requiem is one of Gabriel Fauré’s best-known and most emblematic works. It is also one of the most frequently performed sacred works in the world, no doubt due to its profound, intimate character, melodic genius, enveloping harmonic colors and delicate half-toned nuances. It was not commissioned, nor composed on the occasion of a particular bereavement (like that of Brahms), but “for pleasure”, as Fauré wrote, adding: “a Requiem as sweet as myself”.

In this intimate journey, Fauré reaches out to the universal. In contrast to terror, he offers us a sense of peace.