Hervé BiroliniMagnetic fields

Connected news 02.05.2021

Founder and artistic director of the Distorsions company, based in Nancy since 2013, the composer Hervé Birolini has been passionate about electrical energy for a few months now. A source of inspiration that makes sparks fly! Interview.

Hervé Birolini, Des éclairs : this is the title of your latest creation. Can you present it to us?
Des écl airs is the first piece of the company Distorsions which focuses on the question of electrical energy. I am leaving a cycle of pieces dedicated to the link between sound, space and movement, created with choreographer and dancer Aurore Gruel: Core in 2017, Exartikulations in 2018, with its wall of speakers, and Manipulation, a choreographic piece, in 2020. Aurore and I have been working together for more than ten years and we asked ourselves the question of the common ground between music and dance. Our triptych thus declines the various relations between sound, space and movement. 

CORE Working stage from Herve Birolini on Vimeo.

EXARTIKULATIONS from Herve Birolini on Vimeo.

MANIPULATION - recreation oct2020 from ORMONE on Vimeo.

Then I stumbled on the electron and became very interested in electricity. An interest that echoes my education: I have an electronics baccalaureate, then I studied maths and physics at university, before branching off into film studies. "Des éclairs" is a way of looking at energy, of making visible what is essentially invisible. This piece, which lasts about forty minutes, presents a device of eight vertical neon lights and Ruhmkorff coils, which are installed in front of me. I am behind them, like the operator of a power station! 

The music is purely electronic mixed with the little music that can be caused by the discharges of the coils. I capture the sound of the electrical activity of the coils thanks to electric guitar microphones. What comes out of my loudspeakers is quite unpredictable, which is what places the piece at the heart of transdisciplinarity: sound, light, electronics. I don't call it a concert, but a proposal. A proposal where I show the manifestation of electrical energy in action: it is as visual as it is musical. I try to propose indisciplinary pieces.
Lightning was created in September 2020 at the festival "Musique Action" in Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy. 

DES ECLAIRS / Short from Herve Birolini on Vimeo.

An experimentation on electricity that led you to Tesla, a new piece, which will be created at L'Arsenal de Metz in January 2022...
This time, I wanted to add text, but using it as a musical instrument. Tesla is a four-handed scenographic musical performance, composed with François Donato. The piece is inspired by Nikola Tesla, electrical genius, born in 1856 in the Austrian Empire, and died in New York in 1943. Nikola Tesla devoted his life to imagining the many faces of electricity. As an inventor and engineer of genius, he saw the extraordinary capabilities that humanity could expect from this energy, but, in a way, he got a little lost along the way, in the infinite maze of possibilities. Rather than evoking Tesla's life, the text I commissioned from Dominique Petitgand is inspired by the lexical field of electricity and the laboratory: "lightning," "hertz," "bakelite," "alternating magnetic fields," "distortion," "optics," "weightable matter"... I want to bring to the surface some of the notions that were part of the daily life of this genius inventor, and to plunge in a poetic way into what might have been his thoughts. The device we use will be a field of 16 omnidirectional loudspeakers, spread out on the stage, and some discreet lights to guide the ear. The text, read by an actor, has been recorded. It is considered on a par with the instrumental fragments that one would ask of an instrumentalist in a studio.

At the moment, I am in residency and developing a device of sixteen small Tesla coils that will produce fist-sized arcs of electricity above each of the speakers. The energy will create a visual and sonic experience: the field of the arc and the song of the coil.

Tesla Teaser Step #1 from Herve Birolini on Vimeo.

Since January, you are the new president of a platform that will soon bring together several artists and actors of creative music in the Grand Est ...
The idea of this platform goes back to 2015: it is an initiative of musicians and creators of Lorraine, who saw the arrival of the great region and wanted to gather, to create a network in order not to be lost in this future Grand Est. The Plateforme des musiques créations Grand Est, PFMC, gathers today 70 members: composers, improvisers, instrumentalists, ensembles, venues and festivals, it reflects the artistic diversity on the territory of the Grand Est. This network is currently the only structured regional network in France for creative music. This network aims to federate all the professionals of contemporary musical creation in the Grand Est (National Scenes, National Center for Musical Creation, Operas and other venues with or without agreements) and weave exchanges with our cross-border neighbors. We are going to launch our platform by the end of 2021 and we wish to initiate several events, in particular a professional cross-border meeting between France and Germany, by 2022-2023, with concerts and the restitution of work stages so that the artists can meet the professionals of the diffusion. To be continued! 

Interview by Suzanne Gervais

Photo © Arnaud Hussenot


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