Hailed as “virtuosic (WBUR Radio) for its “creative, sympathetic players…and cornucopia of unusual, extended-technique sounds (The Boston Globe),” the Ecce ensemble continues its 11th season with a one-night only concert spotlighting the innovative French composer Phillipe Leroux. Program includes the American premiere of Leroux’s triptych for chamber ensemble, L’épais, as well as a special performance of Anima (2012) for quintet in tribute to Swiss composer Dominique Schafer.
Considered to be one of the leading “post-spectralist” composers of the early 21st century, Phillipe Leroux (b.1959) is among the most respected French contemporary artists of his generation. Leroux is a widely performed and commissioned composer, as well as one of the most sought-out composition teachers in France and abroad. (He currently serves as Director of McGill University’s Schulich School of Music’s Digital Composition Studios in Montreal, Canada.) “French composers like Phillipe Leroux, who came from the spectral school, have had a strong and resonant impact internationally, especially in America,” says John Aylward, Artistic Director of Ecce. “A new generation of American composers is now responding to these French advancements. So, there is a lot to explore between the influences across these generations.”
Ecce presents the American premiere of Leroux’s L’épais, a cycle of three works: Prelude à l’épais (2017), L’épais (2018), and Postlude à l’épais (2016). The work is based on the model of oceanic subduction—an exploration of progressive transformations of five layers of different sound dimensions undergoing the action of the force field. “The score seeks to offer the listener to penetrate the thickness of the sonorities and enter in immersion by plunging into the sound,” explains Leroux. “Just as one would penetrate the underwater world and there discover characters and sound landscapes as well as itineraries and the idiosyncratic laws governing this particular world.”
According to Domini que Druhen, “Leroux’s approach to colour and harmonic organization owes something to Spectral Music. But in its instrumental writing and its emphasis on rhythmic movement his music owes more to Ligeti. The works of his later period have shown a greater playfulness in their exploration of musical procedures, together with an ongoing concern for clarity and elegance in the presentation of ideas.”
The evening also includes music by Swiss composer Dominique Schafer (1967-2019), who recently passed away. Schafer was a founding member of Etchings Festival, Ecce’s annual summer music festival in France. Schafer’s Anima (2012) was written for Ecce, and involves the idea of capturing and integrating an inner vitality, inspired by Jung’s idea of “anima” archetype that expresses the feminine inner personality of a man.