Thierry Pecou studied orchestration and composition at the Conservatory of Paris. He was a resident of the Casa de Velazquez in Madrid, winner of the Villa Medicis Hors les Murs, and has received numerous awards for his compositions, which are subject to comissions from institutions and renowned performers .
His work has been performed in places such as festivals "Présence" at Radio-France, the Opera of Umea in Sweden, the Gaudeamus Music -Week in Amsterdam, l'Automne Moscow, New Music Concerts in Toronto, the Foro Internacional de Musica Nueva in Mexico City, l'Automne in Normandy, Ambronay Festival, Bath Music Festival, Tampere Choir Festival (Finland), Shanghai Spring Music Festival, and the Auditorium in Yokohama, Japan, and at the Salle Pleyel, aux Théâtre de la Ville and Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris.
This composer is one of the rare musicians to bring the act of composition and incarnation on stage. He regularly interprets his own works, on the piano or at the head of Zellig, an ensemble of variable-geometry dedicated to the creation, of which he was the founder, or as a soloist with orchestra, for his piano concertos (Tremendum and L'Oiseau innumérable).
Thierry Pecou committed himself very early in a singular route, away from notions of avant-garde, and post-modernity uniquely focused on the aesthetic history of the west. Throughout his work, the composer went to meet cultures distant in both space and time: the languages and the imagination of pre-columbian America and Amerindian societies in the Symphonie du Jaguar and the cantata Passeurs d'eau , the greek myths that inspired Les filles de feu , the traces of Africa and America in Tremendum a brazilian carnival, Outre -Mémoire and l'Oiseau innumérable , but also ancient China, the tibetan spirituality ... By meeting these traditions, Thierry Pecou dreams of "resonating the whole world" and seeks to give back to music its ritual dimension. Thus conceived, the music invites and absorbs the listener.
The musical form is then separated from the body gesture. The form, the gesture of the player
And possibly, the dance, fall within the same exchange of energy that characterizes the afro-americans - such as the brazilian candomblé or native american shamanic rituals.
His music is part of the epic of the All-World that the martinican poet Edouard Glissant predicts and it is not an even totality but a whole multiplicity of our unpredictable singularities. For Thierry Pecou, complexity is not the subject of art: it results from a listening world. Thus the compositional virtuosity that we hear in Vague de pierre adds incantatory repetition of simple melodic formulas, as when, near an island, a uniform bead of sand runs along the tangled mangrove of the vegetation.
Thierry Pecou also knowns how to sculpt sound into silence to reveal and pass another silence, that to which have been reduced the people and cultures victims of the colonial expansion of the west. It is through metaphor and invoking that Ñawpa opposes resistance to the destruction of the ritual music of the ancient andean civilization Tawantinsuyu.
It is with the force of poetic intention and the skill of writing thatOutre-Mémoire revives the prohibited memory of the victims of the slave trade.
For Thierry Pecou, writing is being faced with another man, in his frailty and suffering. However, substance and musical form as well as their receiption can not be circumscribed by a system or reduced to an expression of ideology. They accompany the composer's thought, but acquire their own existence, beyond the act and the moment of creation.
In my first dreams, before becoming the place of a story, opera would have been the volcanic field where primordial forces would speak, to expergate primary impulses and recurrent pain. Fed with the thoughts of Nietzsche (Naissance de la Tragédie) and Antonin Artaud (Théâtre de la Cruauté), in the traces of the latter, and in his vision of the far-eastern theatre, I wanted opera to occupy itself with the universe and not with man, or rather, that the mysterious force, and metaphorical musical phenomenon revives the link between man and the elements of the cosmos.
In this sense, some of my previous partitions were already operas. "L'Homme Armé" spoke of the war, "La Ville des Césars" of love, and "Passeurs d'eau" of birth and death through a reinvention of amazonian rituals. These works, of course told something, but other than a narrative as tense as a wire, looking - as Gilles Deleuze would have said - to reproduce, to dream again of the myths that we no longer understand, that we would apparently have detached ourselves from.
In contact with the romantic and theatrical universe of Laurent Gaudé, I found the material that I dreamed of to push "the ritual opera" towards the demands of opera and its traditions: a very highly topical subject, but treated with the mythical breath which is required to take a necessary distance.
The shadow of the greek tragedy underlies and structures "Les Sacrifiées" from end to end. The story presents characters whose profile takes prime over the archetypal psychology. The human being does not arise from tracking individual personalities that evolve in the course of the narrative, but rather with situations that conflict with their free will. For Raïssa, Leïla and Saïda, the curse is stronger than the will, it is the archetype that dominates, it's the crushing weight of power and history that act like a steamroller, in relentless principle of a tragic reality. It is humanity ever caught up by his demons, mired in its own contradictions. Victims of today become the executioners of the next. Situations turn around, reverse in a disturbing symmetry.
To make these tensions exist, the balance of power, I designed around the book of Laurent Gaudé , a voice device with three female singers who play the three women, and a choir made up of a female singer, two singers (tenor and bass-baritone), an actress and three actors. The choir performs a dual function: it is the tragic chorus of the antique while giving secondary roles as they are extracted during the progress of action. The mixture of actors and singers allowed me to consider a very involved dramatic presence and a choir matter that declines from spoken to sung words or from parlérythmé to cry. to the choir, joins the lyricism of the voices of the three protagonists. Their song cultivates ambiguity between popular song and lyric singing, ambiguity which culminates in great lamentations at that end of each part.
In the background of each of the three scenes (Note that Gaudé does not use the word "scene" but only the names of the women to describe each part: Raïssa, Leïla Saïda) emerges a musical sound space having its own colour. Each time, a radical opposition is exposed between two worlds that can not understand each other, produced in two types of writing and two types of harmonic universe.
In "Raïssa" on one side the world of the French army which is that of verticality; things pile up, impose themselves from above, as the military hierarchy. The writing is harmonious, homophonic, homorhythmic. On the other hand, the Djemâa, but also the arid landscape, are represented by the horizontal melodic lines often presented in a count out to the monody.
In "Leïla", this opposition verticality / horizontality is always latent, even if the border is less clear. The choir fades out and the percussion appears, imposing a rhythmic presence that brings to the front the ritual dimension. The percussion becomes a voice, mirror or shadow of the singing women, here by the colouring of instrumental textures, and there by giving a fine rhythmic base rotating on Arabic rhythms, or releasing a torrent of powerful and raging forces.
In "Saïda", the contrast between two worlds becomes intra cultural: the side of the vertical, the male world with the fundamentalists, the curse and the drama that is imposed from above, on the other hand, the world of women, linear, more spread out, fleeing and curving. Each of the two writings plays on its own register of complexity.
The harmony involves complex alloys of heights and notes in tempered sounds. The melody, works on the modal colour borrowing from arab modes of quarter tones, and the spirit of ornamentation.
I sometimes drew, and in all innocence, the modes of expression that I wanted to load the text with various sources by listening to great oriental singers - Oum Kalsoum, Houria Aichi in particular - and arab-andalusian music, Tuareg, Berber, Sufi, etc. . This detour by elseware is not only motivated by the action of territorializing the sacrificed. It is also a way for me to freely revitalize the language of opera, and try to give it the scope it should have by the critical eye that it poses on our world.
Thierry Pecou, January 2008