Adventures, new adventures!
In 1962, six percussionists co-founded the first Western percussion ensemble: Les Percussions de Strasbourg. Their commitment to new compositions inspired composers and audiences alike with a sense of urgency in the quest for innovative forms of musical expression. Pioneers in their field, they commissioned hundreds of works, founding the tradition of repertoire for classical percussion ensemble; today, their prodigious history includes 250 world premières.
Forty-five years later, Les Percussions de Strasbourg continue to demonstrate the exceptional longevity and energy of that vision. How should we now continue that vision? What is our role in social, as well as musical terms? What is our niche in the landscape of contemporary music? What is our vision for new musical creations today? Why six percussionists? The group continues to evolve: to date, the current ensemble members share more than fifteen years of performing experience, standing proudly on the shoulders of the group founders.
Les Percussions de Strasbourg approach the inventory of works commissioned in the past with new modern perspectives, while continuing to consolidate our substantial legacy. We reinvent the very form of the percussion recital, in order to renew the spirit, the discourse, and the aesthetics of performance. While music remains fundamental to our vision, new venues are essential in order to change the audience’s mode of seeing and hearing. Interdisciplinary projects translate and extend the musical gesture into other forms of art, such as theatre, dance, video and film. Interdisciplinary projects include:
2000 Même soir by Heiner Goebbels (theatre) 2002 Le Scorpion by Martin Matalon and L’âge d’or by Luis Bunuel (film) 2005 Time Ballet by Alexandros Markéas (video) 2007 Les Arpenteurs by choregrapher Michèle Noiret and composer François Paris (dance) 2008 Descrizione del Diluvio, with composer Mauro Lanza and videographer Paolo Pachini (multiscreen video) 2010 New commission in progress by composer Michaël Jarrell (theatre)
Our artistic mission has led to partnerships with other national cultural institutions: Abbaye de Royaumont, Scène Nationale de l’Arsenal à Metz, Musée d’Art Moderne de Strasbourg, Manufacture à Colmar, Festival les Musiques à Marseille. Residencies at these esteemed institutions deepen our creative activity. We also welcome partnering artists to our Strasbourg studio and work in parallel with them intensively at each stage of joint projects. The new work of young composers remains a cornerstone of our artistic programming. We explore new technologies in music and performance through our association with national musical research centers such as: CIRM, GMEM, GRAME, and IRCAM.
Les Percussions de Strasbourg are equally committed to programming for young audiences and educational initiatives. Percussion, more than any other instrument, is ideally suited to both written and oral musical projects, and catalyzes educational and cultural advancement as well as community building. Our musical theatre piece for young audiences debuted in 2007: Le Petit Bossu composed by James Wood and directed by Catriona Morrison.
The Percussions of Strasbourg continue to travel and perform throughout the world, fulfulling their mission to create new compositions, to tour existing works, to research and experiment new musical forms and techniques, and to educate contemporary audiences.
Join us in 2012, for the beginning of another exciting half century in percussion. The story continues. . .
Jean-Paul Bernard, Artistic Director