VC NEW MUSIC TUESDAY | Composer Keiko Devaux talks about “Arras”


“Arras” made its world premiere on October 22, 2020, during last year’s Azrieli Music Awards gala concert at Bourgie Hall in Montreal, Canada. The work was carried out by The New Modern Ensemble and conductor Lorraine Vaillancourt.

“Arras is a play about auditory memory and cultural identity”, Keiko Devaux Recount The violin chain. “I imagined creating a piece about my history, my culture and my geography through individual and shared sound memories. Being half Canadian-Japanese and half French, the piece evolved into a dialogue between these two contrasting but complementary identities. .

“I’m very interested in episodic memories and the idea of ​​how the act of remembering is also an act of creation. In a way, the more we hold onto a memory, the more we distort it. is reflected in the way I have worked with simple melodic and harmonic ideas and have reintroduced them repeatedly throughout the work through different distorted variations.

“There are sacred and secular musical references, environmental and mechanical sounds, and rhythmic patterns. These elements are woven together like a tapestry. The word ‘Arras’ is the wall tapestry, of Flemish origin, and also the name from a town in northern France, which is known for its production of fine tapestries. The sound of a power loom itself is heard in the room, but also the act of weaving is very much how these melodic, rhythmic and harmonic fragments are brought together from work.

“This work is the first Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music awarded by the Azrieli Foundation,” they continued. “The commission asks to answer the question / prompt” what is Canadian music? ” While there are many ways to answer this question, I decided to take a more personal and memory-based approach. Canada is such a diverse country that it made sense to me that the repertoire containing Canadian music aims to be diverse and very contrasting. .

“After choosing the theme, I spent a long process listening to recordings, from both sides of my family history. I spoke with family members about their memories of the records we played and famous singers we listened to. It was a lovely time and very personal experience. I also pushed further not only into my own memories but also into those of my grandparents, listening to Buddhist chanting and chanting Gregorian, and analyzing the spectra of Buddhist bowls and the rhythmic patterns of Jacquard looms. and a long process consisting mainly of studying and immersing myself in the sounds of objects and music from my family memory. Analyzed and distilled all of these, I began to experiment with how these parameters can interact together. The overall formal idea was conceived from the start and helped to shape the use and importance of these parameters. be throughout the work.

“I hope the listener can experience, on a macro level, an engagement of very familiar and traditional sounds with more contemporary gestures. I think that when very particular sound elements are abstract, it becomes easier to relate them. It can create nice sonic pivot points between clear and strong identities which then diffuse into something more neutral and emerge at the other end into another sonic world, ”she concluded.

the Azrieli Music Prize, created in 2014 by the Azrieli Foundation, presents three categories, the Azrieli Commission for Canadian Music, the Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music and the Azrieli Prize for Jewish Music. The winners of the 2022 Azrieli Music Prize were recently announced.


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