LUMINEUX / ΦΩΤΕΙΝΟ - Feature Esben Holk

Friday, November 24, 2017
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World Premiere of Nicolas Tzorzis' new work, Lumineux

Interdisciplinary Collaborator
Esben Holk

Lumineux - Nicolas Tzortzis
Der Blutige Schaffner - Robin Hoffmann
Reach Out - Dai Fujikura
Pieces - François Sarhan
YUN - Maria-Eugenia Luc
Delineate Light - Improvisatory Moment


Project for a new piece by composer Nicolas Tzortzis
For the saxophone ensemble “Ensemble Du Bout du Monde”
Duration: circa 15 minutes
In 1978, the young Georges Aperghis, already fifteen years in France, wrote “Signaux,” for
“four instruments of the same timbre and register,” a piece that still shows the influence of
John Cage on the composer. According to Aperghis, the work had been inspired by the
lights of modern civilisation. As he says himself, “…I was pretty fascinated by the signal
lights at airports, you see things light up to create visual rhythms… I wanted to shape this
material like a sculpture.” Thanks to the recording by the saxophone quartet XASAX, under
the supervision of Aperghis, we now have a more than successful rendition of his initial
In my new piece, the idea of sculpture will also be present, having the same material of
ascending scales as a starting point. However, in my work, there will not be four identical
instruments, but a “classic” saxophone quartet, where every musician will take up at some
point the role of the soloist, leaving to the others that of the “virtual electronics.” Staying
faithful to the idea of the sound sculpture and the duplication of a source, every part will see
the solo instrument get augmented, treated or extended by the other three, simulating in the
score electronic treatments such as frequency shifting, ring modulation, distortion, granular
synthesis, delay line or spectral delay and feedback loops, among others. The duplication
will therefore not be an identical one, as is the case in the recording of “Signaux,” the point
being in deeply examining the source in order to foresee what I could extract from it, may it
be harmonic or spectral content, melodic contour, playing techniques etc.
The presence of four different saxophones will allow me to surpass the limits of the sole
instrument, virtually expanding its tessitura and virtuosity, aiming to build a mega-
saxophone played by four musicians that form and act as one body. Ideally, at times it will
be hard to distinguish who is the source, where exactly are the treatments and what kind of
treatments they actually are. By simulating the cascade treatments that I enjoy using in my
mixed works, one source’s treatment becomes itself the source for further manipulation,
and the final result will carefully try to hide the “hierarchy” of any given moment, eliminating
certain intermediate steps.
The musicians’ voice will also have its importance, either as a foreign/complementary
element of the instrumental playing, either as text spoken outside the saxophones, like a
“sound file,” an independent layer that detaches itself from the pattern of the live
electronics. This will incorporate the musicians’ physical playing into the work and will
function as another way of extending the quartet, always inspired by the work of Georges
Aperghis and his musical theatre practice of the past forty years and more. The text,
forming a link between this piece and what inspired “Signaux,” will talk about light, travels
and airports, without any emotion, plainly describing from afar. This text will also act as the
summary of the ensembles life, since three of the four members of Ensemble du Bout du
Monde have come to Europe from other continents, on an airplane, two of them from far-
away places such as the United States and Australia.
In 2017, I myself, coming from Greece, will have been in France for fifteen years, a fact that
by itself moves this piece closer to the one of my former teacher and mentor. More than
homage to Aperghis, this new work for the Ensemble Du Bout du Monde hopes to act as a
deeper look into his music, his way of thinking and articulating his musical discourse, but
also an attempt to further push the limits that he has set and to find other possible paths
starting from a common point of departure.

The Ensemble du Bout du Monde is a collective made up of four classically trained saxophonists from Australia, France, Israel, and the United States. As a contemporary ensemble, they are constantly searching to place art in unexpected and truly unique situations. The saxophone quartet, their tool to make art through music, has sought to create a paradigm shift in the contemporary concept of what this already versatile ensemble is.

Interested equally in breaking away from the classic view of a quartet, the ensemble members deem it necessary to collaborate in a cross-cultural way between the arts and other humanities. Formed, developed, and trained in France, EBM brings four disparate people and cultures together to envision a creative and innovative collective for which there exists no boundaries or limitations.  

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