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IRCAM Autumn Program

David Britain writing for VINGT Paris

Place Igor Stravinsky2 Art has always had an interesting relationship with technology. When Edison invented the phonograph and made the first sound recording he envisaged it being used primarily for recording dictation in offices but inadvertently spawned a musical and creative revolution. Today the mecca for the development of this relationship between technology and music is found in Paris.

IRCAM, a stones throw away from the Centre Pompidou, on the aptly named Place Igor Stravinsky, takes its position as educator very seriously. It holds numerous talks throughout the year, runs prestigious post-graduate courses and offers training in computer assisted composition, real time processing and sound design. 

Since its opening in 1977 IRCAM has provided technical support to many big names of contemporary music such as John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Terry Riley. Its multimedia library contains almost 1,000 hours of recorded music and over 2,000 online scientific articles, in addition to its physical collections of sheet music and books.

Saint-eustache-paris-f1804 IRCAM’s 2024/10 concert season kicks off this month and is a rare opportunity for anyone in Paris to hear the latest marriages between cutting edge technology and music. First up is Jacques Lenot’s mammoth work Il y a, which promises to ‘suspend 84 virtual musicians from the heights of St Eustache church’. It begins on the 21st of September with a final symphonic rendering in four movements on Tuesday 29th at 9pm. 

The scope of Il y a combined with the grand dimensions of St Eustache, and Lenot’s reputation for fierce artistic independence, promises to make his first electro-acoustic work with IRCAM a fascinating spectacle.

In October the action moves to the Centre Pompidou’s Grande Salle, where there is an opportunity to hear the institute's young composers taking up electronics. The work of graduates from IRCAM’s distinguished Cursus course will be presented on October 10th and 15th. 

The following month offers an evening devoted to the sonic extension and transformation of that well loved instrument the saxophone, taking place in IRCAM’s ‘Espace de projection’. Looking like a set from Terminator, this concert hall, which also doubles as a large recording studio, is unique for its ability to radically change its acoustics to suit the music through the use of an adjustable roof and angled panels of either acoustically dampening or reflective material.

Espace de projection The concert on November 20th features some avant guard favourites by French born (turned New Yorker) Edgard Varèse and 20th century colossus Stockhausen. Their works, Octandre and Kreuzspiel, utilize traditional acoustic instruments and is pitched against the French premier of Raphaël Cendo’s Introduction aux ténèbres for solo bass, solo baritone, orchestra and electronics.
Be warned, this ‘Run up to Darkness’ programme with its themes of apocalypse in Introduction aux ténèbres and the gloomy timbres of the Varèse and Stockhausen's works will probably leave you colder than the French winter. Having said this, of all the concerts IRCAM is organising this side of Christmas, the ‘Run up to Darkness’ provides the greatest variety for those looking for a brief survey of the 20th century avant guard while also looking to the future.

For those interested in seeing behind the scenes of IRCAM, both discovery and architectural tours are offered in English for €5 per person. For more information and to book tickets for either a tour or a concert visit http://www.ircam.fr

The Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), designed by architects Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Patrick and Daniel Rubin.

Bonapart Paris apartments



"on the aptly named Place Igor Stravinsk" (Stravinsky?) - 'under' the place I think you'll find!

To be honest, a lot of pretentious rubbish goes one here!

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