A few questions to Aurélien Dumont

San Fedele – IT

The French composer Aurélien Dumont is one of the European composers participating in the Premio San Fedele – a three years project that started in 2011 with 25 composers, of which 11 continued the second year and only six finalists were selected to write a piece for the final concert in 2013 – a work for 14 musicians.

The final concert of the project was performed in the framework of the MiTo festival in Milano, on 13th September 2013 at Auditorium San Fedele, by Klangforum Wien under the direction of Jean-Michaël Lavoie. After the concert Aurélien Dumont was awarded with the prize.


I. Aurélien, first of all, our congratulations!  For each year of the project the participating composers were asked to write not only for a different instrumentarium (solo piano in the first year, string quartet in the second year and ensemble of 14 musicians in the last year), you were also requested to find inspiration in a particular philosophical context. This year, Chinese cosmology and the vision of the universe in the work of Hildegard of Bingen have been given as theme to the concert ‘Unirsi al cielo’. How did you react to these constraints and how did they influence your work? How did you tackle the theme in order to adapt it to your work?


Thank you very much!

Yes, that is one of the particularities of this competition. Except perhaps the first year, when we had to write a Bagatelle for piano to be included between Beethoven’s bagatelles, projects were close to philosophical or literary aspects (for example the second year, we had to work on Dante’s Divine comedy).

Concerning the project ‘Unirsi al cielo’, the constraints appeared progressively; first it was the idea of the five elements in Chinese cosmology (water, fire, wood, metal, earth) and the human as a sixth. One of the pieces was supposed to be with electronics. So we decided rapidly that the last piece, which symbolizes the union in human, to be with electronics.

Then Antonio Pileggi suggested me to have a reflexion about the mystical aspect of Hildegarde of Bingen who could be connected with the project. I thought the idea was very exciting because I love Gregorian music – I studied Gregorian music during my study in Paris Conservatory, in the class of Louis-Marie Vigne. It was interesting also for me to include it in my musical preoccupation, especially on my search on heterogeneity.


II. Please tell us more about the cooperation with the other young composers who participated in the project. Have there been confrontations between different esthetics or approaches, as the participants come from many different European countries, but also from different cultural and pedagogical backgrounds?


The ambiance between us was very good! In fact our cooperation consist mainly in discussion together during our meeting with invited composers or artists. This is another specificity of this competition: composers were in the same time competitiors and associated! Finally, though the pieces were different, the ensemble of the whole program sounded very coherent, thanks to Antonio Pileggi’s direction and amazing musicians from Klangforum & Jean-Michael Lavoie.


III. This last of your three works for Premio San Fedele was also the piece you wrote as final work for the Cursus 2 at IRCAM. Thus your work includes live electronics. Can you tell us how your work changes when you write with electronics? And will there be any future developments of the electronic part of your piece for the concert that is planned at Ircam in Paris in summer 2014?


I am not really sure if my work changes with electronics. In fact, I always use it when it’s possible. It’s a good way to develop my idea of musical heterogenity.

Yes, the version for Paris concert will include a new spatialisation device – WFS system. It’s important for this piece beacause there is a virtual choir (pre-recorded by the great Ensemble Aedes) that appear three times as a rupture with the instruments. I want to create a special focus on choir and I wish the new version with WFS could underline this dramatical effect.


IV. What are your projects for the next years and do you think they will give you the occasion to cooperate again with some of the fellow composers and artists you met at San Fedele and Ircam?


For 13-14, I will premiere a new piece for ensemble with electronics during Ultraschall Festival in Berlin by the Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain under the direction of Pierre-André Valade. The big project for me will be the premiere of my new opera Chantier Woyzeck, for 10 instruments, 8 soloists, 4 young singers and electronics on may 14 by Ensemble 2e2m. I will also write choral music for Ensemble Aedes and Les cris de Paris.

In 14-15, I will write a Musiktheater-piece for a project with Benjamin Lazare and Geoffroy Jourdain about The Dybbuk, by An-ski…

As you see I really enjoy projects in collaboration, and I hope to have new cooperation with IRCAM in the future – it was really fabulous to work with Alexander Mihalic and Sylvain Cadars…


Some photos taken by Alexander Mihalic during the 2013 final concert, in Milan :


During the concert :


Aurélien Dumont with his prize :




Organized in partnership with Ircam - FR

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