Brève Retraite Au Couvent Sainte-Marie De La Tourette

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“This recording documents a soundperformance curated by Franck Ancel in tribute to Varese’s Poeme Electronique. This musical milestone was commissioned for the Philips Pavilion created by Le Corbusier and Xenakis on the occasion of Expo’58, the Brussels World’s Fair that was held from 17 April to 19 October 1958. Le Corbusier envisioned an utopian “art total’’ involving space, music and images all at once. As soon as he was hired by the dutch company, he announced his intent to create an “electronic poem in a bottle”. While Xenakis’ piece Concrèt PH could be heard at the entrance and the exit of the Pavilion, Varese’s composition, based on a complex spatialization scheme, was displayed through hundreds of speakers, prefiguring the concept of acousmonium.

Xenakis and Le Corbusier collaborated again on Tourette’s Convent, a dominican community located in the suburbs of Lyon. Both Philips’ Pavilion and Tourette’s Convent opened universal and meditative gates, linking musical composition and architecture with a scientific precision.

From Varese’s audio visual journey through space and time to Xenakis’ architecture of sound build in wave-like glass, those avant-gardist creations were among the first attempts to interlink artistic disciplines within a building specifically designed for this purpose. The sound was considered as a part of the global architecture and as an object of meditation.

At Franck Ancel’s invitation, Vincent Epplay restored the acoustic properties of this one-of-a-kind church. The featured recording is the edit of a 24-hours live session inside the big nave of its chapel. The sound is determined and guided by the whole shape of the building, especially by the pieces of undulatory glass. Those were build specifically under the directive of Xenakis’ “architectural” score.

Epplay’s musical equipment (mixing desk, EMS synthi AKS suitcase synthesizer, effects and electronic filters) was settled in the centre of the nave and “tuned” in order to reveal the specific resonance of this geometrical building made out of glass and concrete. The impressions of space, movement, intensity, vibrations and colours are enriched with the echoes and psychoacoustic effects of the place. The resulting sound material provides a stereophonic enactment of the way electronic sounds resonate, spread and reverberate within this monumental building.

Fifty years after the Philips Pavilion historical achievement and the completion of the Tourette’s Convent, Franck Ancel brings up again the concepts of “inside-outside” and “shape-concept” defined by the Electronic Poem, at stake with the perspectives of 21th century. The record provides at last an experience of meditative immersion that can be shared individually by each listener.

This performance took place on October 25th, 2008, at the Tourette’s Convent, France, with the precious help of Sophie Bin (video release form), and Derrick Giscloux (IT programming).

All sounds were generated and edited by Vincent Epplay.”