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“Relearn how to combine us”

I have worked a lot with reclusive people (prisoners, monks). In confinement, we are closer to the detainees, because the monks are voluntary prisoners, they chose confinement, while we are subjected to it.

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This generates very different interior arrangements, as evidenced by the texts that were entrusted to me at the central house of Clairvaux or at the monastery of Cîteaux:

Régis S. (1), detained: “A cry in silence. A shout. A cry of silence. Whisper. Did he just issue it? He himself did not hear it. He does not know. He no longer knows. If he sleeps. If he dreams. If he’s. Who he is. Where is he.
A shout.

The night.
In her head.
He has to speak. Not a requirement, a necessity, the need to express. Say anything, even trivialities. Say, speak, express yourself, break the silence, yell! …
– Oh!

– Ého!…
– Is there a persoooonnnnne? “

Brother Luc (2), monk: “Far from veiling in your eyes the object of your love, the night of your heart reveals it to you. Does it not show you that your Beloved is an infinite God who goes beyond your little limited being? Listen to her tell you: “It is when you do not see the One your heart loves, that you see him!” “

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We would have to relearn how to conjugate the “we”. This “we” is buried in our hearts, sometimes very deeply; in exceptional circumstances, it can reveal itself, come back to light despite seemingly very individualistic journeys. It can even be a revelation, a liberation.

“The heart should be our only compass”

The psychoanalysis of certain biblical episodes teaches us how the Book is an initiation to the world and to oneself: the learning of the “I” – of the god who calls himself by the “I”! – can only happen after having understood the presence of the other and having integrated the necessity of his mystery, the fact that one cannot in any case possess it, know it – like the tree in the Garden of Eden, tree of knowledge not of good and evil, but of that which is light and that which is not yet light. In this sense, thinking of the “I” without going through the “we” generates disasters (3). The heart should be our only compass.

For the composer, the current period could lead to more loneliness, like the blank sheet. In reality, a sheet of music paper is never quite a blank sheet. The litters are there which furnish it with their expectation, their stripe evokes a time before time, which would not pass yet but whose fate would be traced like an arrow suspended in its flight. No inscription animates them, certainly, but keys indicate the imminence of a song whose attack will sign the big bang, the initial glottal blow, the genesis of the work finally configured, the inaugural journey, the wedding of light and space, melody and harmony!

Afterwards, even postponed, the work with the interpreters will break this loneliness: it is they who will make the sign come to its acoustic reality, and it is only on this condition that the idea will be able to be freed from the dream which gave birth, to marry the air in its smallest modulations and travel to us, eardrums and skin, vital organs, skeleton vibrating at low frequencies, all our senses summoned, our ego then becoming part of the whole, of us- sound… I am always looking forward to meeting the performers.

“This confinement experience further deepens the one I had on confinement”

For my next oratorio – the culmination of twelve years of collecting the words of victims, families of victims and detainees, against the backdrop of confinement, psychic for some, physical for others – I finished everything beginning of confinement writing of the instrumental parts. He is named Detention trilogy but in a moment of fatigue, the copyist wrote “Possession Trilogy”. This incredible lapse plunged me into abysses of reflection, the confinement of temptation which would require an exit, to de-tempt – is not the new translation of the Our Father “And don’t let us enter into temptation”

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There is a passage where college students sing the following text, by David Dumortier (4): “… I remember, a long time ago, when I pressed my ear against a rock, I heard someone shouting behind the wall. There are people caught in the rocks. When we start to deliver them with a mass, we break them… ”

In its new version, Detention trilogy is a vast project involving a group of middle school singers, a group of high school student actors, a choir of students and professional musicians, divided between the Center-Loire Valley region and Île-de-France: the postponement of the show comes to be confirmed, but that did not break the link between us, quite the contrary.

“Music is, in essence, free and traveling, indomitable, open to multiple perceptions and interpretations”

In this type of crisis, imagination, creation, have a primordial role. But music is not a language like that of poets and writers. It is, in essence, free and traveling, indomitable, open to multiple perceptions and interpretations: it can help us to get out of our psychic confines, but on the condition of resulting from its origin from a process of openness, in particular to level of the texts it conveys. It has happened that high officials of choral singing define it unequivocally, as a good for humanity, but I only partially subscribe to this: there were Nazi songs, there were, and there There are also “musical” productions that come from an approach of cultural domination, of ideological indoctrination, whether political or religious. We must be vigilant about what makes up our culture, this food essential to our interior life.

This experience of confinement further deepens that which I had on confinement, which had inspired me a very simple text dedicated to those who lost a loved one, victim too soon disappeared: “Frail / Like the leaves / Picked by the wind / We cross / A moment, / A little time … / It is there / It was / And then / Disappearance / But you / I keep in mind / That / This was not / Your time. “ (5)


What I (re) discover during confinement: reading Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden”

I recently read and reread Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), to set some of his words to music for choirs of schoolchildren from the Creuse.

His experience of living in a simple hut by the side of a pond has earned us a moving tale of vital importance to writers and poets of the Beat Generation in the United States, and later those in the wake of May 68 in France in particular, tried the experience of returning to nature.

He lived alone in his hut during the year 1845, seeking in this semi-solitude – visitors sometimes pass – compensation for the poor human relationships. Here is one of his reflections, taken from Walden (translated from the American by Jacques Mailhos, Gallmeister, 2017):

“What kind of space is the space that separates a man from his brothers by afflicting him with loneliness? I have found that no animation of the legs can really bring two spirits together. What do we most want to live next to? Surely not next to the crowd, next to the station, next to the post office, the bar, the town hall, the school, the grocery store, Boston or New York, in these places where gather the greatest number of men, but near the perennial source of all life, whatever the exact place where our experience informs us that it springs, as the willow grows near the water and throws towards it its roots. “


Thierry Machuel, explorer of choral art

The French composer and pianist Thierry Machuel was born in 1962 in Paris. A lover of literature, he devotes a large part of his work to choral art, setting to music texts by contemporary authors in many languages. To accompany his work as a composer, he created the vocal and instrumental ensemble Territoires du souffle.

From 1996 to 1998, he was a resident at the Académie de France in Rome-Villa Médicis, then, from 1999 to 2001, member of the Casa de Velazquez in Madrid.

Between 2008 and 2011, he was composer in residence at the Clairvaux prison center. The safe Clairvaux. The walls…, produced with Julien Sallé and which recounts this experience, obtained the grand prize of the Charles-Cros Academy in 2010.

In 2011, he won the high school student prize for composers for Words against oblivion.

From 2015 to 2017, he leads the project The Europe of my dreams in Upper Normandy with national education.



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