D'autres Soleils - Festyvocal 2023
Luna Valentin


In June 2022, I was chosen by Festyvocal to compose for the 4th International Biennale of Vocal Contemporary Music, which will take place in Église Le Corbusier (Firminy, FR) in November 2023. FestyVocal is organizing a "Page blanche" to five young regional composers, and my work will be premiered by the festival choir in November 2023. The composition will be a vocal work based on a text of my choice, related to the festival's theme "Equinoxes", and should last approximately 3 minutes. The piece must consider the acoustics and architecture of the Église Le Corbusier, which has a 13-second reverberation when empty and 9 seconds with an audience. It should experiment with spatialization and resonance, and I will also have to take advantage of the 16-speaker array installed for the occasion. The composition must be accessible to an amateur choir of 1 to 6 voices, including divisi, and can be performed a cappella or with the accompaniment of a single instrument of my choice, taking into account the acoustics.

The Text

Upon commencing my composition, I swiftly encountered the need for a suitable text to incorporate into my work. Although I wasn't particularly well-versed in poetry during my childhood, I had always held a strong appreciation for the poems of Andrée Chedid. For those who may be unfamiliar, Andrée Chedid was a renowned French-Egyptian poet and novelist who produced an extensive body of work throughout her lifetime. She was born in Cairo in 1920, where she lived for a portion of her life before relocating to Paris in 1946. Chedid's literary contributions were significant, with many of her works exploring themes such as identity, exile, and the human condition. Her poetry was celebrated for its vivid imagery, as well as its depth of emotion and powerful messages. In light of the theme of the commission, "Equinoxes," I was struck by two of Chedid's poems in particular: "Des soleils encore verts" and "L'axe," which I felt would be fitting for my composition.

Des soleils encore verts
Translation of "Des soleils encore verts"

Plus loin plus loin que nous
Forgés d'autres mythes
Se hisseront des soleils
A face insoupçonnée!

Saignant de toutes nos plaies
Gonflés de nos racines
Se lèveront d'autres soleils

Soleils encore verts!
Further, further than us
Forged of other myths
Other suns will rise
With an unsuspected face!

Bleeding from all our wounds
Swollen with our roots
Other suns will rise

Still green suns!
Translation of "L'axe"

A quel écrou serrer le monde?
Quel axe rassemble tous nos lambeaux?
Fil à fil
à n'en plus savoir
à n'en plus finir
Nous perdons trace du premier sursaut
Pourtant quelque part la terre s'assemble
L'axe où tout gravite résorbe les fragments

Mais l'instant est si bref qui dévoile l'accord.

On which nut to tighten the world?
Which axis gathers all our scraps?
Thread by thread
Until no longer knowing
Until no longer ending
We lose track of the first surge
Yet somewhere on earth, it comes together
The axis around which everything gravitates, absorbs the fragments

But the moment is so brief that reveals the harmony.

© Andrée Chedid & Éditions Flammarion (Paris)
© Andrée Chedid & Flammarion Publishings (Paris)

The composition

Week 1

Audio : 1) Musescore generated version & 2) Musescore generated version auralized in the Church


Week 2

As one of the argument for refusing the composition that the beneficiaries of Andrée Chedid developped was that I had mixed the two text, I decided to rebuild my composition in two independant and contrasting parts. I started working on the parts this week, first dividing it in two scores, then trying to fix the text. Ideally, I would like to be done with the choir parts by Week 3-4 to work on the accompaniement after that.

Week 3

Part 1 of the Composition is done : "Des soleils encore verts." I will most likely aim for a few very discrete Chuck generated sounds and a real piano as accompaniement.


Week 4 - Final Score

The Poet family and Festyvocal have approved the Final Score, and I am now awaiting a response from Flammarion Publishing. I am optimistic that I will be able to finalize the paperwork within the next 2-3 weeks.

Audio : 1) Musescore generated version & 2) Musescore generated version auralized in the Church

Week 6 - Update

Everyone approvedthis new version (Festyvocal, the Poet's family, Flammarion Publishings, ...) ,BUT, the paper work takes forever with new surprises each day, and endless successions of papers to redo (I am currently on version 12 of the official declaration).

Final update

Paper work is still in progress but choir rehearsals have started.
This Week I also participated in the press conference annoncing the date of the concert : November 8th !