Honorary Mention – Prix Ars Electronica ’97
for processed and spatialized voices (1996 version)
sound diffusion 8.1
sacred text of the Gregorian tradition
Cantores ’96 directed by Giacomo Bonifacio Baroffio
voices: Giacomo Bonifacio Baroffio, Maurizio Verde, Letizia Butterin, Kim Soo Jung, Lee Sun Ah
duration: 17 ‘
1st performance: Rome, Vertical Music Festival, Roman Aquarium – 29 Nov 1996
installation (2007 version)
setting – Vincent Longuemare
recorded voices of the choir: “Kantores 96” directed by Giacomo Baroffio and “Sorores” choir directed by Kim Eun Ju
soloists: Giacomo Baroffio, Kim Eun Ju
duration: 27 ‘
Exsultet originates from the meeting of Luigi Ceccarelli with Bonifacio Baroffio, one of the leading experts in Gregorian music, and from the awareness that the relationship between music and spirituality, beyond any religious belief, has always maintained a profound and unchanged reason.
The first version of Exsultet was released in 1996, and the piece has had several performances in concert halls and churches, and a CD release. But neither the concert hall nor the church proved to be a fully satisfactory container, one because it was too convivial and playful, the other because it conferred a dimension of oriented spirituality and
traditional from which this music wants to detach itself.
Only in 2007, the meeting with Vincent Longuemare allowed the design of a special place that allows music to find the ideal environment by placing the listener at the center of the sound with all the senses.
Everything happens in a neutral box, a black box, an instrument destined to disappear from sight. After a tortuous journey, the public arrives in a dark space.
The music begins and in the absolute darkness we discover that the sound has an infinitely greater detail; the details of the melodic vowels and consonants, precise rhythmic signs coming from various points of space, are distinguished as from a magnifying glass. Reverberation and light build the dimensions of the environment all around.
The black box seems compact but soon one notices thin cracks from which light penetrates, violently or at low intensity, almost as a graphic sign, but not passively projected. Instead of from inside, the light comes in knocking on the door to make its way. Pushes.
Slowly the outdoor space opens up, the chairs are surrounded by slits of light that rotate at a slow or fast pace. The light creeps between them tracing directions on the floor.
The listener is enveloped by the sound that comes from all around. Twelve speakers above, below, in front and behind the audience, each with a different sound are the diffusion points. We are inside the music.
The excursion of light intensities soon gives way to the rhythm that flanks or contradicts the musical themes, it is a single computer that controls music and light commands together.
Signs of light emerge from above and swoop into space, rapid sequences that suddenly open the vertical, the elevation, giving reason to acute tones.
The sources above the audience before touching the ground create other graphic signs in the air. The beams of light come together and intertwine in lines within the space, they are taken to exasperation and then withdraw, sucked into the music itself. Waves break on the outside of the walls, letting the bare minimums pass through narrow bundles. Dark and light divide without the possibility of reunification. In a particular subtle but powerful light the song appears, unfolds and increases, brings fear, brings joy, sometimes consolation.
Will the light appear in the song? Sometimes I feel the light. Sometimes I see music
I lose my senses, and I find them again, in the immense feeling. I find a time, a black time.
Will there be a light of consolation to come? Will there be a “feel-time”? “
Luigi Ceccarelli and Vincent Longuemare
lights plan for the installation
Compact Disc Rai Trade RTC006 (2005)
Gregorian chant and electroacoustic music
Exsultet, In Die Resurrectionis
performers: Giacomo Baroffio, Kim Eun Ju, Kantores 96, Sorores
total duration: 48 ’35 ”
29 Nov 96- Rome, Musica Verticale Festival, Roman Aquarium
07-08 Dec 96 – Brescia, Episcopal Seminary
05 Jul 97 – Revello (To), Collegiate Church of S. Maria Assunta, “Musica Instrumentum Coeli”
20 Apr 98 – Pescara, Festival Variazioni, Accademia Musicale Pescarese
Apr 11, 99 – Santa Fe, USA, Santa Fe International Festival, KUNH 89.9 FM
27 Jun 99 – Ravenna Festival, Basilica of San Vitale
02 Nov 99 – Stockholm (Sweden), Sound Memories, St. johannes Kyrka
04 Nov 99 – Vasteras, (Sweden), Sound Memories, St Thomas Kyrka
30 Jun 00 – Berlin (Germany), “Inventionen” Festival, Parochialkirche
01 Dec 01 – New York (USA), Cathedral, Live on the Web
03 Jun 03 – Brussels (Belgium), Musiques et Recherches Festival, Chapelle de Boondael
16 Oct 03 – Montréal (Canada) Festival “Rien à voir”, Espace Go
11 May 04 – Bologna (Italy), Angelica Festival, Raum
06 Mar 07 – Vienna (Austria), Alte Schmiede, Elektronischer Frühling
29 Sep 09 – Còrdoba (Argentina) Museo de Bellas Artes “Emilio Carafe” XX Jornadas Internationales de Mùsica Electroacùstica
16 May 15 – Bari (Italy), Mediterranean Citadel of Science, Silence 2015 Festival
07 Oct 16 – Avellino, Auditorium of the Conservatory of Music, Weeks of Contemporary Music
30 Oct 18 – Palermo, Season of the Teatro Massimo, A. Scarlatti Conservatory
in form of Installation
21-23 Sep 07 – Rimini (Italy) Sagra Musicale Malatestiana, Theater of acts
28 Oct 07 – Santa Severina (Kr), Avant-garde Week, Halls of the Castle
07 Jul 11 - Ravenna, Ravenna Festival, Voci nella preghiera, Basilica of San Vitale
GREGORIAN SONG and COMPUTERIZED MUSIC
by Giacomo Bonifacio Baroffio
The experience of Gregorian singing in a context of computerized processing of the same liturgical melodies has aroused various reactions. An affirmation that was heard immediately after the execution – almost in defense of an experiment considered valid and interesting but in any case limited to experimentation and inappropriate in a liturgical celebration – was precisely about the vital context of the computerized Gregorian: “Here – that is in the concert hall – it’s also fine; but certainly no one dreams of making this music in the liturgy ”.
This affirmation recalls two series of considerations that must be premised before trying to give an answer.
Compared to the Gregorian of any interpretive school, the computerized version stands out in a notable way from all points of view. It is a real global reworking of the piece that continually resurfaces in filigree through sound flashes that modify the original music in the melodic line, in the scanning of the words, in the timbre, in the rhythm, in a polychoral intertwining where voices and sounds – sometimes unusual – overlap, in a movement that proceeds thanks to a succession of nodal points of extreme intensity, points that constitute the source and culmination of strong melodic and harmonic tensions.
What is heard during a performance of Gregorian chant – either during the liturgy, or elsewhere – is the final result of a spiritual and cultural journey. The cantor, in fact, many and many times shuttles back and forth:
1) between the word of the liturgical text and its emotional perception and its rational understanding; 2) between the written melody and what it gradually manages to bring to life in the heart and in the intelligence in a slow process of appropriation and re-creation.
In my opinion, no cultural and spiritual reality is able to reveal this laborious creative process – thanks to which Gregorian chant comes to life in the person of the cantor even before being sung – how much it is able to do so, in an extremely significant and expressive way, the computerized processing. We are too used to considering Gregorian as a simple melody that unfolds through an obvious succession of notes. Everything feels so natural and easy. And isn’t a linear interpretation required of the singer, consistent with a certain style?
Yet those who sing know that the Gregorian melody, perhaps precisely because it is essentially prayer, under its sober linearity and flow of notes hides the stammering of the person who is before God, when the voice is strangled, alters, disappears and amplifies suddenly to take again, immediately, new colors.
Paradoxically, the computerized Gregorian, built on performances of liturgical melodies, almost reflects their inner genesis, the pain of a prayer that only gradually manages to free itself, which never tires of incessantly repeating a melodic micro passage until only one note, or only a couple of them manage to welcome the prayerful content to sing it in faith in God or in trust in men.
Because, beyond its origin and its privileged destination, Gregorian is a language of the human person which in any case carries a message from heart to heart, from intelligence to intelligence.
Due to the prevailing cultural illiteracy and banal ecclesiastical pre-occupations (time denied, idolatrous efficiency, the multiple exploitation of liturgical celebrations for purposes quite different from the worship of God and the sanctification of the faithful …) the liturgies suffer greatly crisis. Music is an eloquent indication of this squalid and chaotic situation, poor Cinderella marginalized and mocked.
Before responding to the initial affirmation, I would consider it necessary that we seriously ask ourselves what music is for in the liturgy, because it is solicited, tolerated, denied, because gross stupid and improvisations of the lowest quality are too often admitted. It is music as such that finds it hard to find a dignified space in the celebration, beyond compositional and interpretative styles.
To the extent that music is an opportunity for spiritual experience and is not limited only to an epidermal aesthetic solicitation, it will also be possible to insert pieces of computerized compositions within the liturgical celebration. I think above all in particular moments of profound spiritual attention such as the spaces of silence after listening to the Word of God and after Communion. Here computerized music – combined with Gregorian or born from an autonomous but authentic artistic experience – hardly finds “competitors”.
Exsultet – Text
cerei huius laudem implere perficiat.
Resp. Et cum spiritu tuo.
Resp. Dignum et iustum est.
et curvat imperia.