ONLY – Agata Zubel, Yang Song, Yijoo Hwang, Noémie Ettlin

Performers: Matthieu Benigno, Alexandre Esperet, Hyoungkwon Gil, Youjin Lee, Minh-Tâm Nguyen, Lou Renaud-Bailly
Technical manager: Claude Mathia
Sound manager: Olivier Pfeiffer
Duration: 60′

World premiere: Thursday, February 22, 2024, 8pm, Théâtre de Hautepierre, Strasbourg
For further information, click here.

Delegated production: Percussions de Strasbourg.
Coproduction: Philharmonie du Luxembourg

Les Percussions de Strasbourg combine artistic practices and develop new forms of writing for a hybrid show featuring four new works without percussion instruments, imagined by four young creators: composers Agata Zubel, Yang Song, Yijoo Hwang and choreographer Noémie Ettlin.

Agata Zubel, who is very used to writing traditional music for percussion, has taken on a new challenge and composed a sound and visual work for six painters using coloured spray cans. Six blank canvases in frames and dozens of spray cans on shelves are the only decorative elements in this new rhythmic and graphic piece.

Yijoo Hwang was inspired by philosophical texts to evoke solitude and the difficulty of not being disturbed by the elements that surround us. She has composed a piece of gestures and screams. Some of the performers, seated in the auditorium, will shake the audience and involve them in this quest for peace.

Three ‘aerial instruments’ played by three performers will be contrasted with their shadows played by the other three performers in Yang Song‘s creation based on the principle of Yin and Yang. The three percussionists wearing motion capture technologies on their arms will play the instrument in the air through a choreography producing sounds of different percussion instruments and abstract sound samples. The electronics controlling the light and sound act in parallel or in counterpoint with the actions and presence of the performers.

Thought of as the penguin commando from the animated film Madagascar, the six performers will carry out missions organised by choreographer Noémie Ettlin. This work, without music, sets the percussionists in motion in a coordinated and absurd way. It is the first choreography written for the Percussions de Strasbourg.

AGATA ZUBEL – SPRAY for 6 painters using spray cans – 15 min
“The idea behind this piece is to use a work of art to create another work of art. Six percussionists play the notes written in the score, but instead of instruments and drumsticks, they use a large canvas and paint accessories that make noise or emit sounds. The sprays, the brushes – these are tools for reproducing what’s written in the score, written in such a way that the effect played out in time is a musical work, and the final effect – a colorful work of visual art. What’s more, the final result consists of six works of art, based on the same musical score, but differing in the final visual version. This is not just an audiovisual work. The main idea is the creative process, the path of realizing a given musical material with the help of the knowledge and gesture of the musical art world, but – almost by accident – the final result can be materialistic, not only as a recording, which is a typical musical “documentation”, but also as an object – a painted picture.”

YANG SONG – OMBRES for 6 percussionists, gesture, light and electronics – 15 min
“In the mysterious world of ninjas, shadow diversion is one of the most important skills in ninjutsu. The ninja’s shadow is invoked by a series of special combinations of hand gestures. The behavior of the ninja’s shadows is in fact the same as that of the corporeal manifestation, but sometimes the shadows also have additional activities while responding to the ninja’s will; they can even have their own shadows. In Yang Song’s piece OMBRES, there are six figures, the ninja ontology and the shadows, together constituting the art of balance based on the principle of Yin and Yang (阴阳). Musically and technically, the percussionists will wear motion-capture technologies on their arms, playing “air instruments” on stage through a choreography producing sounds from different percussion instruments and abstract sound samples. The electronics will also control light and sound in parallel or counterpoint to the performers’ actions and presence.”

YIJOO HWANG – DÉSORDRE for 6 consciences – 15 min
“We need time to concentrate. We need this moment of concentration without any disturbance to break it. However, disturbing factors are not necessarily in our environment, but sometimes within ourselves. For example, even if we try not to think about anything to relieve stress, after a few minutes we start to think about other things, such as dinner, tomorrow’s tasks, family etc. This phenomenon is natural, but we see it as an obstacle. Humans are constantly thinking animals. Nevertheless, why should we try to avoid these moments? Are all the things I think get in the way really unnecessary? Can’t they just be part of “me”? In this piece, will the audience be part of my environment or part of “me”?”

NOÉMIE ETTLIN – BANQUISE for 6 penguins – 15 min
“How do you play with the codes of a dance of detail, abstract, organic, uncluttered, to gradually tip over into a universe that evokes the absurd? Freely inspired by the characters representing the penguins in the cartoon “Madagascar”, I seek to evoke the image of a commando governed by an intrinsic and uncompromising rhythmicity. The aim will be to create tight links between the performers, with bodies constrained to a certain minimalism, working on rigidity, speed and precision. Finding the place where almost nothing would generate spatial and musical tension, where dynamic changes would occur at the turn of a half-second. We would then see an entity whose coordinated gestures unfold in a natural random logic, punctuated by disruptive actions that are immediately absorbed by the group’s mimetic adaptation. My aim is to convey a form of expressivity that emanates from a self-organized corpus, voluntary and determined by a shared fervor, at odds with the bare essentials of an empty stage, with no apparent music. The result would be a kind of ‘naïve dance’, investing the interstices between form and determination that animate a body.”


AGATA ZUBEL composer born in 1978, Poland Agata Zubel studied percussion, vocal art and composition in Poland, in Wroclaw, at the Karol Symanowski High School of Music and the Karol Lipinski University of Music. As a vocalist, she has performed numerous works from the contemporary repertoire, including Chantefleurs and Chantefables by Witold Lutoslawski, Luci mie traditrici by Salvatore Sciarrino and the role of Madeline in The Fall of the House of Usher by Philip Glass. With pianist and composer Cezary Duchnowski, she forms the duo EllectroVoce, developing improvisation and live voice processing. Following in the footsteps of Cathy Berberian, Agata Zubel explores all the resources of her voice and the full variety of vocal modes. The voice is also present in her compositions, based on texts by Samuel Beckett (Cascando for voice, flute, clarinet, violin and cello, 2007; Not I for voice, instrumental ensemble and electronics, 2010), William Shakespeare (Lullaby for mixed choir, 2013), Heiner Müller (Bildbeschreibung, opera form for two voices, instrumental ensemble and electronics, 2016), and Polish authors such as Czeslaw Milosz (Aphorismes sur Milosz, for voice and instrumental ensemble, 2011) and Tadeusz Dabrowski (In between the ebb of thoughts and the flow of sleep, for voice, piano and string orchestra, 2013). She also composes vocal scores without text, such as Parlando for voice and computer (2000), or Madrigals for five voices (2015), a work that develops a polyphony of onomatopoeia. In the field of instrumental music, Agata Zubel has written symphonic works (Fireworks, 2018), concertos (Violin Concerto, 2014; Piano Concerto, 2018), works for ensemble (3×3, the fruit of her residency with the ensemble 2e2m, 2019), and chamber music. Agata Zubel has received commissions from various institutions in Europe and the United States: Ensemble intercontemporain, Klangforum Wien, London Sinfonietta, SWR Radio, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Warsaw Autumn, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, etc.

YANG SONG Composer born in 1983, China Yang Song was born in Inner Mongolia (China). After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in musicology from the University of Inner Mongolia, she completed a master’s degree in composition theory from 2009 to 2012 at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. After that, she started studying composition at the Central Conservatory of Music at the age of 27 as a doctoral student of Professor Guoping Jia, and successfully finished in 2018. Since 2017, she has been attending Professor Johannes Schöllhorn’s concert examination master class at the Hochschule für Musik. Freiburg in Germany, and graduated in February 2019. She attended the “Cursus de Composition et d’Informatique Musicale 2020/21” at IRCAM Paris, with Thierry De Mey . She is now working as a post-doc at the Central Conservatory of Music and has a PhD in Systematic Musicology from the University of Cologne. In 2015 she was awarded a China Scholarship Council (CSC) fellowship and in 2018 a DAAD fellowship. In 2019, her ensemble piece “Song of the Ocean” was awarded the 2nd prize of the Franz-Josef Reinl-Stiftung “Reinl -Preis 2019” in Austria. The orchestral piece “Déjà-vu”, selected by the 11th Saarbrücker Komponistenwerkstatt won the Theodore-Gouvy-Preis and the commissioned piece for string quartet “Scattered Views” was performed by the Arditti Quartet at the Tongyeong International Music Festival in Korea. In 2018, she was selected for the Gyeonggi Korean Orchestra International Musical Work Contest and won the international Goethe-Preis at the “Asian Composers Showcase 2018” in South Korea. In 2017, she received a commission from the Young Artist Project of the Shanghai International Art. Festival (2017) and was awarded 3rd prize in the Vareler Composition Prize in Germany. She received first place in the Singapore Ding Yi Music Company Composition Prize in 2015 and the Voice of China Composition Competition in 2014. She was commissioned to write an orchestral work by the China National Art Foundation’s Young Creative Artist Funded Project in 2015. Her contemporary works in various genres such as orchestral music, chamber music, electronic music, theatre music and dance dramas blend her own musical culture with others.

YIJOO HWANG Composer born in 1985, Korea Yijoo Hwang, a Korean composer, was born in New York. She began studying composition at the age of 18. After obtaining a Bachelar degree from Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea, she went on to obtain a Master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music in New York. During her Master’s course, her works were performed in a variety of venues. Through various experiences, Yijoo Hwang discovered a real passion for contemporary music and began to create and write her own shows. She then became interested in producing shows. In 2013, she began studying for a doctorate at Hanyang University in South Korea. Yijoo Hwang is constantly evolving and seeking to bring contemporary music closer to the public. She created two shows as part of the 2015-2016 France-Korea festival, and then worked on two works for French and Korean musicians studying at the CNSMD. Since 2018, Yijoo Hwang has been living in France, where she has been studying for a postgraduate Artist Diploma at the CNSMD in Lyon. Based on the sound installation she created and installed at Le Vinatier (Lyon), she is imagining a new colourful artistic project to bring the public closer to her. Yijoo Hwang works with various musicians and has performed in the United States, Korea and France.

NOÉMIE ETTLIN Choreographer born in 1988, Swiss Noémie Ettlin trained in classical and contemporary dance in Switzerland before joining the European “D.A.N.C.E” programme in Germany, where she met choreographers William Forsythe, Wayne McGregor, Angelin Preljocaj and Frédéric Flamand. In 2009 she joined the Ballet National de Marseille directed by Frédéric Flamand, with whom she has performed in France and abroad. She created her first choreographic piece “PS: Salads are from the Shop” during a carte blanche. She met James Thiérrée in 2012 and took part in the creation and tour of the show “Tabac Rouge”. She discovered tango with the Tango Ostinato and Catherine Berbessou companies. She continues to work as a performer with choreographers Kaori Ito, Dominique Boivin, Thomas Guerry, Andrew Skeels, Laura Scozzi, etc. She also choreographically assisted James Thiérrée on his creation in situ at the Opéra Garnier “Frôlons” and Damien Bricoteaux at the Avignon Festival. From the start of her career, Noémie has always sought to take a multidisciplinary approach. She discovered the world of theatre and took part in shows as a dancer/choreographer with directors Denis Podalydès, Jacques Osinski, Jean-Yves Ruf, Olivier Brunhes and Raphaël Trano.As well as creating work for the stage, she also works with photographers and video artists on shoots and music videos. Holder of the State Diploma in Contemporary Dance since 2017, she regularly gives workshops in schools as well as masterclasses.