IN C // 20 PIPERS
For my last solo programme, Goebbels/Glass/Radigue, I adapted Two Pages by Philip Glass. It was the first time I had tackled a piece of minimalist or repetitive music. This type of music requires the sustained repetition of short musical patterns. The bagpipes lend themselves particularly well to the exercise, thanks to the continuous breath provided by the bag. What’s more, this music is based on a sort of enchantment generated by continuity, and is the very reason for the existence of the bagpipes’ drone. So, the pipes are the ideal platform for this type of music, as long as a piece can be found that they’re capable of playing.
Terry Riley is one of the leading figures of American minimalist music. In C is considered by some to be the starting point of American minimalism. When it comes to In C, we can think of it as repertoire, given how well known it is and how regularly it is performed. At any rate, that’s one reason for my interest in staging this production: because of how well known it is, and how often it is performed, it should be performed by pipers.
In C is composed of 53 patterns which the musicians link together by repeating each element the desired number of times. My intention is to allow a degree of freedom to each player whilst arranging “meet-ups” which will allow me to link the ensemble together – a sort of ordering from me on its interpretation. This ordering will allow movement between the instruments to unfold around the audience, creating tension or release, enveloping or breaking apart.
The programme will be able to be staged outside (in urban or natural spaces) in daylight, but also in indoor venues or at night. We will commission lighting design by Yves Godin, with whom I’ve already collaborated on the lighting for the Goebbels/Glass/Radigue programme.
It was this week at 104-Paris, we were going up the halls as if magnetized by theMarie Richeux – Par les Temps qui Courent – France Culture (radio)
sound. Arrived in the great nave, we put down the bag and we discover 20 musicians,
musicians in a circle, we are beckoned to enter the space. The sound that we had first
followed like a magic rumor, turns out to be very strong and literally comes to dress
us. The music revolves around us, imparts an involuntary swing that is difficult to
repress. We hear strings and we know there are none. We hear light while we have
our eyes closed. Can't say how long we've been here. But possible to say that we
would not want it to stop.
The interpretation of the piece In C by Terry Riley at 104-Paris by twenty pipers underJean-Jacques Birgé – Mediapart blog (web media)
the leadership of Erwan Keravec was absolutely dizzying. The musicians perched on
platforms surrounded the dumbfounded audience. Some ended up sitting cross-
legged, others circled around, inside or outside the circle, as if the nave were a stupa. It indeed housed a relic, since In C, composed in 1964, is considered the first work of
the American minimalist current that we then called repetitive. I knew about twenty
interpretations of it, but this one was particularly magical, a sort of telluric monster
where the high-pitched bombards, the bagpipes, the baritone bombards created for
the occasion, the Varesian sirens enveloped the spectators hypnotized by this bagad
(large Breton pipe band) with contemporary accents... Erwan Keravec manages to
take the bagpipes and the bagad out of their traditional environment without betraying
the sources, roots that never stop growing until they reach the future.