©Bartosch Salmanski

ONLY – Agata Zubel, Noémie Ettlin, Yijoo Hwang

Recital for 3 creators, 6 musicians, 0 instruments

Spray*, for 6 painters using spray cans, Agata Zubel, 2024 – 19′
Banquise, for 6 penguins, Noémie Ettlin, 2024 – 20′
Désordre, for 6 consciousnesses, Yijoo Hwang, 2024 – 11′

Performers: Matthieu Benigno, Alexandre Esperet, Hyoungkwon Gil, Youjin Lee, Olivia Martin, Lou Renaud-Bailly
Stage manager and lights: Claude Mathia
Sound engineer: Olivier Pfeiffer
Artistic director : Minh-Tâm Nguyen

Duration: 55′

Premiere Thursday February 22, 2024, 8pm, Théâtre de Hautepierre, Strasbourg
More information here.

Executive production: Percussions de Strasbourg.
Coproduction & Commission: Philharmonie du Luxembourg
* with the friendly support of the Ernst von Siemens Foundation.

In Only, Les Percussions de Strasbourg work with three young female creators who have been given only one strict instruction: not to use instruments. Three creators in the broad sense, deliberately vast and all-encompassing. They are composer, choreographer, and also a bit director, set designer and painter. We didn’t want to set their roles in stone, because contemporary musical creation today steps out of the box of music alone. Six musicians who, through their presence and personality, play a full part in the creative process, including, for some pieces, on-stage work during which they are the driving force behind the work. Finally, objects, tools and no percussion: an absence which, in fact, plays an important role.

This configuration allows all these fields to be put on an equal footing, at the “only” service of a recital that relies on everyone (women, men, absent percussion). Only goes beyond categories: no hierarchy, “only” artists, creators and musicians, without even the shadow of a percussion instrument. Who says a percussionist needs a percussion instrument to practice his art? In Only, artists work together on a recital with presences, incarnations, bodies, breaths, voices, materials, virtual instruments…

Agata Zubel’s Spray is a virtuoso work performed entirely with cans of spray paint and a variety of accessories, including spatulas, brushes, cardboard and sandpaper. The audience is invited into the heart of an artist’s studio, and witnesses a fascinating ballet of painters, orchestrated with the precision of a goldsmith. The score combines sounds, movements and six large images that gradually appear on the blank canvases. Thus, in addition to a masterfully realized soundscape, six pictorial works are born before the audience’s eyes: the composer “uses a work of art to create another work of art”.

Finally, for the first time, Les Percussions de Strasbourg commissioned a choreography. Noémie Ettlin is highly sensitive to music and rhythm. She also noticed the almost choreographed aspect of a percussion concert, where each musician handles his or her set with precision and delicacy, participating in an ordered instrumental ballet. Banquise is a score of bodies, featuring a commando of overexcited penguins, loosely based on the characters in the cartoon Madagascar. Their jerky, perfectly synchronized gestures are a concentrate of humor and absurdity, animated by the sounds of steps, voices and breathing alone.The choreographer has drawn on the musicians’ individual personalities and unique technical abilities to understand and interpret the complex rhythms of their bodies.

In Désordres, by Yijoo Hwang, the musicians use body percussion to evoke the various disturbances and injunctions that invade our daily lives. We need time to concentrate, without disturbance. However, our lives are invaded by these various forms of interference: sound notifications from social networks, various messages, ringing phones, advertisements, unannounced visits, but also mental load, stress… Often, as “thinking animals”, it’s our own thoughts that disturb us. Is it possible to be free of all pressure and devote ourselves fully to an occupation? Is everything that seems to bother us really useless? During Désordres, interference can come from the stage, but also from elsewhere.

Text: Guillaume Kosmicki


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.

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.

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.