N’importe où hors du monde (Anywhere out of This World)
Performed during the semifinal rounds, Strings category, of the OSM Manulife Competition, week of November 22 to 26, 2016
Éric Champagne is one of the leading composers of the younger generation. He came to music by way of the clarinet and bass clarinet, and his studies took him from CÉGEP Saint-Laurent to Université de Montréal, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, then a master’s in composition (2006) under the direction of François-Hugues Leclair. Over the years he has also been a student of composers Michel Longtin, Robert Normandeau and Denis Gougeon.
Champagne’s career has been marked by many distinctions. Recipient of a Prix Opus for “Discovery of the Year” (2013), he has been composer in residence with Orchestre métropolitain (2012-2014) and occupies the same position at Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur as of fall 2016. His music was quick to make an impression at a number of competitions, besides being the subject of commissions and performances not only in North America but in Europe and India as well.
Éric Champagne’s catalogue includes several large-scale works. In addition to an opera composed while he was taking his master’s degree (Mademoiselle Julie, based on Strindberg), he took part in the composition of Bungalopolis, a collective lyrical and humorous work inspired by the comics strips of Jean-Paul Eid, and in 2015 his Symphony No. 1 earned him the CALQ-awarded Prize for Creation of the Year – Montréal. Inclined as much to instrumental writing – especially for winds, recalling his training as a clarinetist – as to composing for voice, Éric Champagne paints works whose shimmering quality is reminiscent of orchestrations by Debussy and Ravel, and where the voices often call to mind the texts of the great Québec poets.
N’importe où hors du monde was commissioned from Éric Champagne by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal to be used in the semifinal round, Strings category, in the 2016 edition of its annual competition.
Champagne’s notes on N’importe où hors du monde (2016):
Caprice in homage to Marc Chagall
For string instrument only
(5 versions – violin, viola, cello, and two versions for double bass)
This caprice was inspired by Marc Chagall’s painting N’importe où hors du monde (the title of which is borrowed from a poem of Charles Baudelaire’s), a fascinating, spellbinding work. The piece makes use of a simple structure found in Jewish and Gypsy music, namely a slow introduction rhapsodic in character, and a rapid finale, incisive and virtuosic. That structure is modeled on the composition of the pictorial work: the first part is inspired by the blue half-face and the body with the fragmented clothing, while the second section reflects the red half-face and the surreal landscape that makes up the painting’s background.
This work was commissioned by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal for the 2016 edition of the OSM Manulife Competition.
Learn more about the composition of N’importe où hors du monde by reading this short interview.
Short interview with Éric Champagne on the subject of composing N’importe où hors du monde (Anywhere out of This World)
“Knowing that your piece will be compulsory in a competition, do you approach the composition of it in a different way? And if yes, what do you do differently?”
Éric Champagne: Certainly, composing a compulsory piece for a competition requires responding to certain specific parameters: level of virtuosity, idiomatic writing for the instrument and so on. Obviously, then, I can’t do everything I might want to, I have to channel my inspiration in a precise direction. It’s not a question of carte blanche. But the job of composing is still the same: whether in the development of a musical idea or the building of the overall structure, the piece is created with the same techniques and the same processes as in my previous works.
“What restrictions come with the commission of a work? How do you manage to reconcile those restrictions and your creative habits?”
Éric Champagne: In reality, restrictions are practically at the basis of my music. Every work I’ve composed has had at least one “restrictive” element, whether a suggested theme, a compulsory instrument, technical details to consider… That said, I believe that those restrictions are in fact extraordinary markers that channel inspiration and make it possible to create with a directed, controlled and sublimated strength. In the present case, N’importe où hors du monde requires me to combine virtuoso writing with poetic and dreamlike language. It’s a demanding but extremely stimulating exercise for a composer.
Interviewed by Paul Bazin
See Éric Champagne present his piece Vers les astres (To the Stars), on the occasion of the 2011-2012 finals of the Prix collégien de musique contemporaine.
– Tu es musique – Ensemble Kô, Productions le Lab., 2015. (LLCD 011)