Performance Monday, March 5, 2012 | 6 PM

Making Music: Kaija Saariaho

Voix, Espace

Zankel Hall
Residing in Paris since 1982, Kaija Saariaho has developed important artistic relationships that have furthered the range of her sensual, expressive musical art. Two of those partners join Carnegie Hall’s composer-in-residence on a concert that highlights her solo and ensemble vocal music, performed by ensemble Solistes XXI, paired with multimedia installations by Jean-Baptiste Barrière.


  • Kaija Saariaho, Composer
  • Solistes XXI
    ··Céline Boucard, Soprano
    ··Raphaële Kennedy, Soprano
    ··Maryseult Wieczorek, Soprano
    ··Sébastien Amadieu, Countertenor
    ··Laurent David, Tenor
    ··Edouard Hazebrouck, Tenor
    ··Jean-Sébastien Nicolas, Baritone
    ··Jean-Christophe Jacques, Baritone
    Rachid Safir, Director
  • Jean-Baptiste Barrière, Video Artist
  • Jeremy Geffen, Series Moderator


  • Echo!
  • Nuits, adieux
  • Lonh
  • From the Grammar of Dreams
  • Tag des Jahrs


  • Solistes XXI

    Rachid Safir had a vision to create an ensemble capable of covering the whole repertoire of vocal polyphony from the Renaissance up to the present. This dream became a reality in 1988 when he created the Solistes XXI, a group composed of professional singers from different stylistic backgrounds. Solistes XXI's activities have been guided by two main principles: to explore works from different periods that will enhance each other in performance; and to facilitate great freedom of individual musical expression. The latter principle requires precise listening skills, and has produced lasting collaborations between singers and composers.

    In the course of more than 20 years of existence, Solistes XXI has performed countless world premieres, as well as numerous concerts of ancient and contemporary music repertoire throughout France. The ensemble has also performed at Festival d'automne à Paris, Festival Musica in Strasbourg, Salzburger Festspiele, Holland Festival, and La Biennale di Venezia.

    The press and numerous composers who have written for the Solistes XXI are unanimous in praising this group as a precious instrument in the service of vocal art.

    Rachid Safir

    Through his various musical activities, Rachid Safir has sought to interpret solo vocal music from all periods, ranging from Pérotin to Ferneyhough, Dufay to Schubert. As a singer, Mr. Safir has been a member of several celebrated ensembles, including the Groupe Vocal de France, Studio der frühen Musik, and Clemencic Consort. In 1978, he founded A Sei Voci, an ensemble that he sang with for more than 10 years. Several recordings on which he performed have been honored with high distinctions and awards.

    Mr. Safir has taught at the National Conservatory of Music in Lyon and at the Paris Conservatoire. A chorus master since 1970, he created the Solistes XXI vocal ensemble in 1988 with the mission of combining polyphonic and solo repertoire for young professional singers.

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  • Jean-Baptiste Barrière

    Born in Paris, Jean-Baptiste Barrière began his career at Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique / Musique (Ircam) in 1981, where he directed musical research, education, and production. In 1998, he left Ircam to concentrate on his personal projects, focusing on interactions between music and images.

    Mr. Barrière has composed the music for several multimedia events, including Peter Greenaway's opera 100 Objects to Represent the World, which premiered at the Salzburger Festspiele in 1997 and was performed around the world. He has also composed the music for several multimedia installations by the artist Maurice Benayoun, including World Skin, which won the 1998 Prix Ars Electronica. Mr. Barrière has directed visual creations for concert versions of operas, including Saint François d'Assise with Kent Nagano and Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and with Myung-Whun Chung and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in 2008; as well as Wozzeck with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra of London in 2009.

    Mr. Barrière collaborated on Kaija Saariaho's CD-ROM Prisma, which won the 2000 Grand Prix Multimédia Charles Cros. He regularly realizes visual concerts for Saariaho's music, including her opera L'amour de loin, which was performed in Berlin and at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris in 2006 by Nagano and the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin.

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  • Jeremy Geffen

    Jeremy Geffen has served as Director of Artistic Planning at Carnegie Hall since March 2007. In this position, his responsibilities include program planning and development, as well as the creation of a wide range of audience education programs. Prior to his appointment at Carnegie Hall, Jeremy served as vice president of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (2005-2007), and artistic administrator of the New York Philharmonic (2000-2005). In addition, he worked for the Aspen Music Festival and School as associate artistic administrator from 1998 to 2000. During that time, he also taught courses in music at Colorado Mountain College, hosted a weekly classical music radio show on KAJX, and became the Aspen Institute's youngest-ever moderator, creating and leading the seminar The Marriage of Music and Ideas with Dr. Alberta Arthurs in February and March 2000.

    Jeremy currently serves on the Artistic Committee of the French-American Fund for Contemporary Music, as well as advisory entities for both the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's CMS Two and the Avery Fisher Career Grant. He has also served as an adjudicator for numerous auditions and competitions, including CMS Two auditions and The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

    A native of Cape Town, South Africa, Jeremy was raised in Newport Beach, California. While pursing a bachelor of music degree in viola performance at the University of Southern California, Jeremy developed problems with his right hand that led him away from performance and into artistic programming, which combines his curiosity for and love of the breadth of the classical repertoire, as well as the artists who bring that repertoire to life.

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Kaija Saariaho's Nuits adieux 
Solistes XXI | Rachid Safir, Director
Kaija Saariaho's Lonh 
Solistes XXI | Rachid Safir, Director
Kaija Saariaho Miranda's Lament ("From the Grammar of Dreams")
Anu Komsi, Soprano
Kaija Saariaho's Tag des Jahrs 
Solistes XXI | Rachid Safir, Director

At a Glance

Tonight’s program focuses on Saariaho’s works for voices and electronics, and includes visualizations that play an integral role in the overall conception of the concert. Designed and implemented by long-time collaborator Jean-Baptiste Barrière, the visualizations grow out of the inherently visual overtones of Saariaho’s music, enhancing and developing those implicit features. The music comes from various stages of Saariaho’s career, spanning the years between 1988 and 2007. And the texts come from a similarly wide array of writers, including the medieval troubadour Jaufré Rudel, 19th-century writers Hölderlin and Balzac, 20th-century American poet Sylvia Plath, and two contemporary French writers—Roubaud and Barrière.

All of the works employ electronic sounds, either electronically generated or sampled, and some entail real-time processing of live sounds. In all of the works on tonight’s program, the vocal parts employ a wide variety of techniques. Vocalists whisper, speak, sing with or without vibrato, or sing with different quantities of air; sometimes the vocalists produce words, other times phonemes, and sometimes they simply breathe. The dazzling array of vocal sounds gives the music an expansive expressive range that allows for subtle shadings of meaning.
Program Notes



Kaija Saariaho on Her From the Grammar of Dreams 


Kaija Saariaho on the Role of Nature in Her Work

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Sponsored by Ernst & Young LLP
Kaija Saariaho is the holder of the 2011-2012 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall.
This performance is part of Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair, and Making Music.

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