Alexandre Lévy in "Res Musica"
September, 16th 2020 by Michèle Tosi
It is now proved that plants communicate with each other through vibration : a dimension that the composer and performer Alexandre Lévy wanted to develop and share with the public by designing an interactive sound installation and a mixed music for live percussions and sampler.
We know Alexandre Lévy’s commitment to the defense of the nature environment and his desire to reach out to the public (and young audiences) that he likes to associate with his work : such as this ecological tale Zerballodu applauded at the Philharmonie of Paris in June 2019. It is also the DNA of his Company aKousthéa, founded in 2003, which entirely produced the installation-concert Vibration Forest.
For the moment, in one of the undergrowth of the Parc Floral Paris, eight digitally
engraved wood panels are installed according to the models of the plastic artist
Sophie Lecomte. Equipped with vibration motors and amplifiers, theses structures – « sensory and musical magnifiers » in the words of the designer – will begin to vibrate and produce sound under the tactile action and physical contact (of the hands but also the body) of visitors, the drawings having been covered with an electrically conductive paint that acts as a sensor. In addition to the pleasure of creating one’s own sound trajectory in an intimate listening of the vibrating wood, each participant can become an actor in a collective performance thanks to loudspeakers relaying sound of the different structures. Alexandre Lévy emerges himself in specialized scientific works on the vibratory phenomenon before elaborating the sound part he produces in the Grame Studios in Lyon : two years of conception and elaboration also including the work of writing a score, a mixed music for live percussions and fixed sounds given on the installation site.
At 5 :30pm precisely, the installation is cut off for the concert bringing together the two performers : Laurence Chave, drumsticks in hand and Alexandre Lévy himself with his sampler and controllers. Three pieces are heard, calling for three types of
percussion : a crackling sound material with woody tones, with woodblocks, maracas and various rattles in Cycle réplique attached to the vibration of plants. Portes acoustiques convokes the bass drum under the sticks and then the hands of the
performer. The percussive play is part of the resonant framework of electroacoustics and makes us physically experience the vibration of the resonating sound body. As for Incantation contact, the last piece, the composer evokes memories of Bali where pilgrims gathered in the temple and melt their voices in a great vibration that should put them in contact with the spirits : more immersive and ritualizing music calling for the resonance-vibration of metals, that the cymbal and the tam mixed with the
electroacoustic part and its clouds of voices projected in space thanks to the listening devices. These are the same materials that have been injected into the installation and that the public will be able to listen to again, as they wish, once the installation has been reconnected. It is not uncommon, moreover, for the two performers to join it to extend together this adventure of listening at the heart of the plant matter.
It is to be seen and heard every weekend until the end of September, at Pavillon 12 of the Parc Floral of Paris.
Alexandre Lévy in "Res Musica"
Two hundred and seventy schoolchildren on the stage of the Philharmonie of Paris, in a resolutely green context : it is the choral group of Zerballodu, the ecological tale by Alexandre Lévy and Gérard Poli welcoming young and old alike for the performance this Saturday morning at eleven o’clock. Zerballodu was commissioned by the Orchestre National d’Île-de-France as part of its annual participatory project, « Chantons et jouons avec l’orchestre » ( Let’s sing and play with orchestra). The musical adventure is far-reaching and the energy of the participants is phenomenal. On the voice side, the students have been working since October 2018 with their respective teachers, then with the choir director Sophie Boucheron and the conductor Léo Warynski. On the instrument side, some thirty young musicians from eleven
conservatories in the Île-de-France region have been selected to live this experience alongside their elders, the very involved members of ONDIF. Conceived with four hands by composer Alexandre Lévy and his accomplice, librettist Gérard Poli, Zerballodu talks to us about ecology, nature conservation and the danger of deforestation in the Amazon through the universe of storytelling and the springs of the marvelous. Thus begins a struggle between the Trees, embodied by some 235 choristers (two choirs with equal voices, all dressed in white) placed on the backstage rows, and the Helmets, thirsty-five guys with low voices and in overalls, galvanized by their site manager (« Let’s go, guys !») and the military drum. Two professional singers share the stage with them : the soprano Raquel Camarinha, moving from one camp to the other according to the roles she assumes ; as for the baritone Julien Clément, half-man, half-tree, with his bush in his head, he is the Shaman supposed to link the spirit of men and the forces of nature. “Beware of Zerballodu, the monster that rumbles on our thresholds » : the tale written by Gérard Poli is a long poem with a sonorous and playful language (« shear me off all this wood ! ») which Alexandre Lévy takes up : impossible, of course, in the reverberant acoustics of the Philharmonie, to grasp its subtleties, even if the spoken scenes are more explicit. But the repetitive manner in which the text adopts and the rhythmic veins given by the music distill the substantial sound marrow from it.
Fantasy, humor and invention are at work in a score as abundant as it is demanding, where the composer often makes the different sound sources, choral, orchestral and electroacoustic, interact in a very subtle mix : like the first page (the sounds of the forest) where the noisy interventions of the « Trees » and a few colored touches of the percussions blend into the « sound landscape » heard through the loudspeakers. Next to Léo Warynski, the choir director Sophie Boucheron watches over the grain. As in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges, whose echoes can be heard here and there, contrasts are created between the different scenes, to sharpen an attention that never lets up : thus these catchy sounds, entrusted to the double choir and finely orchestrated, which take us into the world of musical comedy in the best possible vein. Or even that funny scene with its muscular chorus, where Raquel Camarinha very lively and in a very attractive «open air », inventories the contents of her freeze-dried food cart that the helmets are feasting on. Comical, certainly, and very well taken on, the « war scream » of the latter (« yes chef ! »), with a bluffing synergistic effect, is no less disturbing. The yellow helmets and blue vests are functional, with Édouard Signolet’s staging and Tristan Mouget’s lights making full use of the space deployed around the orchestra. The revelations of The Shaman
(Julien Clément with a generous baritone) give rise to more tense episodes where the luxuriant orchestra, enhanced by a large percussion desk, effectively serves the dramaturgy.
Supported by Sophie Boucheron, Léo Warynsky impresses us with the beautiful authority of his direction and fluidity he obtains within the forces at work. We are moved by the exemplary attire and commitment of the young participants, most of whom have never before been outside the door of a theatre.
about the Tree of Caresses - La Voix du Nord
"With this interactive installation, I wanted to pay homage to the people who came to work in the region, bringing their musical and sound culture", sums Alexandre Lévy, from the aKousthéa Company. Musician, composer, virtual artist, the man is also an associated artist with 9-9bis in Oignies, a stage in the Nord-pas-de-Calais mineral field until 2020.
His work was conceived with the visual artist Sophie Lecomte at the festival of Chaumont sur Loire in 2013; it has been presented in a new version for a few days and until the end of the season at Mosaïc. […]
Tree of caresses à Taïwan, Now News
The 2015 3rd Ten Drum Cultural & Creative Park International Artist-in-Residence project invited well-known French composer-cum-piano soloist, sound sculpture creator Alexander Levy, for a one-month residency creation in Tainan Rende Sugar Cultural & Creative Park.
The main creation "Tree of Caresses" is the exclusive first one in Asia. According to the surrounding natural and cultural environment of Rende Sugar Refinery, Artist Levy specially created the outdoor interactive voice devices in Banyan Pond of the park. This device successfully integrates artificial products and nature (interactive computer programs, immediate soundscape, and realistic lianas sculpture). In the local environment as the main idea of the creation, the concept of cross-border and cross-domain concept combines art and cultural creativity to witness the retro atmosphere of century industrial relic activation within the park. They expect to provide the public an art exhibition journey full of slow living in southern region.
Levy thinks music is best medium to understand oneself and to listen to others, and to strengthen the main shaft of his creation through the active participation of people. Levy is good at constructing his music world through multiple compound music performance, regardless of the classical instrumental music, vocal music, opera form, or the co-creation with crossover performer, and we can feel his high openness to pursue artistic aesthetics. In addition to the stage works, also, Levy often completes many In Situ creations in specific architectural spaces and natural heritage field, and through the creations of musical works in the public spaces, such as in urban areas, parks, and so on, trying to open people's auditory acuity, listen carefully to natural poetic feeling pouring from daily life around, and also echoes Levy’s creative inspiration in the natural environment. Through these subtle sounds lead people into his world of music.
Introduction of Tree of Caresses –“ Tree of Caresses” is an invitation to stroll through an interactive set made up of real vines, which serve as extensions of the surrounding natural environment. Immersion within this installation lets the audience experience heightened sensations of touch, through sounds that evoke feelings and fantasy.
In particular, the soundscape of “Tree of Caresses” created in Ten Drum Culture Village picturing the poetic spirit of Ten Drum nowadays, including drums, Dream Sugar Refinery, and natural sounds. All sounds used in this work were recorded during Alexandre Lévy’s artist-in-residence in Ten Drum. This is an installation which can be touched, felt, and listened to the spirit of Ten Drum.[…]