The French Ensemble Variances and Thierry Pécou at the Gaudeamus Music Week in Utrecht, September 7, 2018

The French composer and pianist Thierry Pécou and the Ensemble Variances, which he founded, will be guests at the Gaudeamus Music week in Utrecht (NL) on the 7thof September performing "Transcendent or Immanent". The ensemble compiles a programme featuring composers who have found inspiration in nature, the universe, ancient Indian practices and religious images.

The program hopes to address age old questions which are now hot topics: What is our position on the cosmos at a time mankind is putting his own existence at stake by destroying the ecosystem? As we are threatened more and more by the changing climate, can spirituality somehow help us to apprehend the danger of those disturbances? In this program, Thierry Pécou is setting the transcendental Christian approach against the immanent spirituality of the Native Americans, who believe a deep respect for nature and identification with the animal world are essential conditions to maintain harmony. This dialogue is not about who is right or wrong. Merely about exploring the different perceptions of the world we live in and wondering whether a change of spiritual perspective might help solve environmental issues that affect all of us. The programme is built up around two pieces: Raphaël Languillat’s "Crucifixion (d’après Le Pérugin)" and Thierry Pécou’s "Méditation sur la fin de l’espèce". Pécou uses recordings of nature sounds, in particular the fascinating songs of the whales, to sketch the fragility of human existence in comparison to the immensity of the cosmos from a more scientific approach, while Languillat is taking an ancient painting of the crucifixion as his source of inspiration. John Luther Adams created "The Light Within" following a ‘revelation of light’ during a visit to an installation by James Turrell. The programme also features a new work by the promising French composer Jonathan Bell which Ensemble Variances has commissioned him to write.

Thierry Pécou founded Ensemble Variances in search of new ways to draw the listeners into the concert. By enfolding the audience musically and sometimes even theatrically, each Ensemble Variances concert becomes a story of its own, binding the sequence of works together. These stories, inspired by Amerindian, Afro-American and Indian cultures, being told by this close-knitted group of musicians, give the performances a sense of ritual enactment. Thierry Pécou impressed the international press and audiences alike with his composition "Outre-mémoire", which commemorates the exploitive era of the slave trade. The ensemble has been invited to festivals and institutions such as the Cité de la Musique Paris, le Festival Présences de Radio France, the Auditorium de Lyon, the Musikfestspiele Potsdam, the Lux Aeterna Festival of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg (Germany), the Wigmore Hall London (UK), the Bourgie Hall Montréal and the Ottawa Chamber Fest (Canada). In the upcoming seasons it will be performing at the Rouen Opera, Gaudeamus Muziekweek Utrecht (the Netherlands), the Festival Heidelberger Frühling (Germany) and will be touring in North-America (Detroit Institute of Arts, Gamble Auditorium Cleveland, Music on Main Vacouver). Both Ensemble Variances and Thierry Pécou are based in the heart of Normandy, Rouen.

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