voice & ensemble
by Pierluigi Billone
commissioned by Wien Modern & PHACE
commissioned by Wien Modern & PHACE
Anna Clare Hauf, voice
Annette Schönmüller, voice
Emilio Pomarico, conductor
Michael Krenn, saxophone
Stefan Obmann, trombone
Mathilde Hoursiangou, piano
Berndt Thurner, percussion
Roland Schueler, cello
Alexandra Dienz, double bass
In 2016 PHACE premiered FACE for voice and ensemble (65 ‚) by Pierluigi Billone at Festival Wien Modern 2016 and later at Philharmonie Luxembourg and Festival Ultraschall Berlin. For season 2019/20 PHACE commissioned FACE Dia.De for 2 female voices and 8 instruments, which should enter and extend the dimension, which the collaboration with Face has opened.
für two female voices and 8 instruments (2019) (world premiere) (65′)
commissioned by Wien Modern & PHACE
A production by Wien Modern, PHACE and Wiener Konzerthaus
Pierluigi Billone about Face Dia De.
My recent work Face 2016 (for solo femalevoice and 11 musicians, 60’) has been a first step to imagine in a different way the possible identity and the role of a voice as centre of an instrumental ensemble (and therefore also the identity of the ensemble). I work in this direction already from the very beginning of my compositional activity. Face was initiated by PHACE and commissioned by Wien Modern and Rainy Days Luxembourg for PHACE Ensemble – premiered in Vienna 2016, then performed in Luxembourg 2016 and Berlin 2017 by soloist Anna Hauf and Ensemble PHACE, conducted by Leonhard Garms. After, Talea Ensemble performed it in New York City and Los Angeles December 2017.)
PHACE produced Face on CD and it wil be released on Label KAIROS in June 2018.
Due to the sensitivity and the creativity of the interpret (Anna Clare Hauf) and our long common work, it was possible to provide a vocal material of such a richness and difference that the whole part of the voice was kind of visionary journey. On each step of this vocal journey, the voice loses gradually the word, the singing itself, turns into an instrument, reduces itself to elemental gestures. Introduced by a long and wild saxophone solo (leading a chaotic and tragic periphery) the voice starts suddenly from a pseudo old “Greece tragic voice” (creating all around itself doubles, echoes, rests). She exceeds itself and literally “chews, devours, drinks, spits, vomits”the word and the chant,and lands mysteriously – after 30 minutes –to pure and naked “vocal acts”: actions and gestures consisting of elemental body/voice tragic acts of presence.
During this free and deliberated process of “deprivation” a periphery of supplementary voices appear (of the other performers in many different ways, and, in some particular given contests, a kind of “fossil” voice: vocal fragments on tape with a special rule (original quotations from Helmut Lachenmann, Giacinto Scelsi, John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luigi Nono).
Face Dia.De (2019)
My next work as further project for Ensemble PHACE, for two female voices and eight soloists, ca. 60’ – should enter and extend the dimension, which Face has opened. It is a modern sense of the voice, completely opened, where the vocal act is no more an extroverted act of singing as we receive it from the old and recent tradition, with its still typical expressive/ psychologic or mechanic/instrumental role. All what is voice here can find a focus and a place. Not in the sense of the recent empty and somehow meaningless curiosity for the voice as an instrument, with its naturalistic imitations, or the simple collection of vocal effects repertoire (a kind of…zoo of the stupidity). Not like in the renewed interest for a voice being able – finally again! – singing and celebrating the strongest human emotions (“the whole world is a stage” or better, “the whole world is an opera…”).
The voice has to show its emptiness. First renouncing to its identity and then building something else, even if it reduces itself (proudly) only to an empty place for the future…
There is no real text anymore, no “story”, and no emotional or intellectual representation of the human. When a vocal action has a spoken articulation, its meaning remains willingly completely hidden. It is the act of singing (or not singing) itself, which is in focus (and becomes a question). Why? Because, in my opinion, there is something more important and urgent, now, then…to “set a text to music” or to write an opera or… This is the reason why a second voice can provide the necessary second “pol” for the (first) voice: no centre anymore. The voice is here and/or somewhere else, displaced, or two voices are one: singing here becomes another meaning.
Iannis Xenakis with N’Shima (1976) or Luigi Nono with Gelidi mostri (1983) have already showed a possible open direction. I hope to add also a personal further dimension to these previous original experiences.
In this case, the role of the performers is very essential: the ensemble as a group turns definitely into a constellation of individuals, where the two voices can find endless special relationships to extend their – already opened – role.
Press Review FACE, Festival Ultraschall, 28.01.2017
There was applause to exhaustion for Face by Pierluigi Billone, a large-scale work for voice (Anna Hauf) and 11 instruments (Ensemble Phace under the excellent leadership of conductor Leonhard Garms). The composer from Sondalo goes far beyond musical text interpretation. The sound of the voice becomes part of a bodily vibration, from which a music of extreme intensity springs, with spoken and sung moments, soundless and shouted vocal sounds, a music that celebrates the expressive „nakedness“ / naked expressiveness of the voice.
The vocal part is free and visionary, with traces of a pseudo-ancient „voice of a Greek tragedy“. At its peak, there are only more „vocal actions“: Vibrations of the body and sound of a voice, not textual imitation. The word comes last; the old hierarchy is reversed: the body strangles, spits, vomits or makes the word emerge as if it were the first time. A fossil music, „stone“, a music of the most intense drama. It is underscored by an instrumental fabric that is once intangible like dust, then again sharp and corrosive, the eruptions of the electric guitar are always as surprising as logical, metallic pulsations and punches on the chest also give the whole thing the fascination of a ritual.
„Pierluigi Billone belongs to one of those rare magicians, who can suspend lineal time. One assumes with his music as if to enter a ritual space“
„…his radical methods have led him to explore unchartered soundworlds and to develop idiosyncratic instrumental and vocal techniques. Nevertheless, the concurrent roots of these sources of inspirations lie in an archaic world – a sacred universum – where, as if for him, the most progressive standpoint of modernity would be when music itself reaches its own phenomenal essence.“
Born in 1960 in Italy, Pierluigi Billone lives in Vienna. He studied composition with Salvatore Sciarrino and Helmut Lachenmann. Billone’s music has been performed by relevant interpreters in festivals such as Wien Modern, Festival d’Automne Paris, Donaueschinger Musiktagen, Wittener Tagen für neue Kammermusik, Eclat-Stuttgart, Ultraschall-Berlin, Musica Viva München, TFNM Zürich, Ars Musica Bruxelles, Huddersfield NMF, World Music Days Wroclaw, Biennale Zagreb, Boston, New York, Monday Ev. Concerts Los Angeles, Bendigo Festival Sidney. His music has been regularly broadcasted from the most important radios (BBC, WDR, SDR, BRD, NDR, ORF, DRS, RCE, RF, NR) in and beyond Europe. His works received international awards such as the Kompositionspreis der Stadt Stuttgart (Stuttgart 1993), the Busoni-Kompositionspreis (Academy of Arts Berlin 1996) the Wiener Internationaler Kompositionspreis (Vienna 2004), the Ernst-Krenek-Preis (Vienna 2006), and the Kompositionspreis der Ernst-von-Siemens-Musikstiftung (Munich 2010).
From 2006 to 2008 Pierluigi Billone has been guest professor for composition at the Music University Graz, in 2009 at the Music University of Frankfurt, from 2010 until 2012 at the Music University Graz, and in 2017 at the ESMUC in Barcelona.
He is regularly invited as teacher and lecturer in composition courses such as: IEMA-Ensemble Modern Akademie 2008, Harvard University 2010, Columbia University NY 2010, MCME International Academy Russland 2011, Ferienkurse Darmstadt 2010, 2012, 2014, 2018, Impulse Akademie Graz 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, Tzlil Meducan Israel 2011, 2014, 2015, MCIC Madrid 2015, 2016, 2017, Boston University 2015, New York University 2015, Composit-Rieti 2015, 2016, 2017.
The works of Pierluigi Billone appear on the Kairos, Stradivarius, Col-legno, Durian, EMSA, NEOS and Ein_Klang labels.