The ephemeral scores of Mickaël Bernard

Interviews 28.11.2022

A jack-of-all-trades brimming with vitality, Mickaël Bernard is only 27 years old, but he says he has already done "all the jobs" related to the shows and creations in which he evolves: usher, stage manager, visual artist, radio host - he has been hosting a show on Radio Campus Paris for three years -, designer and composer. Today he is the head of a collective, Les Absentéistes (those who are always wrong), and comes back to us on his concept of "ephemeral score", which exists only in the moment of the concert.

Mickaël, you are interested in music but also in visual arts. How did you come to music and composition?
I like above all to decompartmentalize the arts, to break the windows, even transparent, which separate them. I come from the world of techno and amplified music. But I practically only make acoustic music now, with performers who give me ideas and give me the impetus to compose.

Are you yourself an instrumentalist?
I played the flute at the beginning of my training, then I started playing the piano and I also practice painting: a universe that feeds me continuously and that contributes greatly to my activity as a composer that I am pursuing today with Jonathan Pontier at the CRR 93.

A professor who gives you carte blanche, you say, himself an ardent defender of artistic decompartmentalization and transversal projects...
While channeling my desires, he knows how to encourage my projects and allows me to go to the end of my ideas, at the risk of sometimes crossing the frameworks of the institution in which he teaches.

I would like you to come back to the genesis of the Partition-installation aux pétales which, according to you, is one of your most beautiful successesto date...
Thestory is quite beautiful, indeed; it is linked to one of my food activities consisting in distributing the keys of the boxes to the conductors at Radio France. A bouquet of roses had been forgotten in one of the artist's boxes, which I took home; it caught my eye and I began to distribute the flower petals one by one on the carpet that serves as a support for my installations, realizing quite quickly that each petal could have a sonic identity: I had come up with the idea of my trio piece for the end-of-year concert at the conservatory.

What was the next step?
It was to explain the concept to the instrumentalists - Armand Angster (clarinet), Christelle Séry (electric guitar) and Christophe Beau (cello), musicians of the ensemble Accroche Note who are not at their first creation and whom I had to convince of the merits of the enterprise.

Did the installed score seduce them?
We had to decide together on the instrumental colors and the modes of play according to the place of the petals and the trajectory that they drew on the carpet, also regulating the interventions, crossfades and superpositions of the three instruments. And in spite of the cellist's initial reluctance, they played the game, putting all their talent into making this new flower blossom for them.

What was the reception of the public?
It must be said that the performance was accompanied by a light creation that put the spotlight on the carpet, a sort of burning hearth around which circulated like shadows both the three performers and the people participating in the ceremony. I sincerely believe that the proposal - the fact of being invited to an experience that modified their listening habits - pleased them.

Was the symbolic value of your gesture understood at the end of the performance?
Once the performance was over - there were no photos or videos - I lifted the carpet and removed all traces of the "installed score". But I hadn't really scripted the gesture: which is not the case for this other performance, rehearsed on the terrace of the CRR in Aubervilliers and given during the second edition of our Absence festival.

What exactly is it about?
The dimensions are still modest but we can, my partner Gilles Roulleaux Dugage and myself, congratulate ourselves for having attracted in June 2022 more than 100 people in a single day and 200 during the second edition on October 23. The event is held in a painter's studio, at 24 place Sainte-Marthe in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, where music does not resound every day. The paintings of the artist are hung there and those of other painters that I invited to exhibit. The program, as for him, mixes meetings, concerts and performances, those of the musicians but also of the poets / poetesses linking the words with the music.

Your performance once again draws its inspiration from painting...
I had indeed loved the painting of the artist Ana Krichashvili, who had painted a whole environment of small colored bubbles by closing her eyes. I kept the idea and entitled the piece I composed with my eyes closed. It lasts exactly 8'11'', brings together eight singers and is divided into eight parts punctuated by micro-events (left to the imagination of each). The counterpoint of the eight lines, sung on phonemes and according to pitch markers, is the result of numerical speculations that will not be revealed. The score will be torn up at the end of the concert, each performer leaving with a piece of paper: the event-score, which I like very much, is a variation of what I call the ephemeral or installed score.

Isn't it a shame to see your work fall apart? Do you ever feel like keeping certain scores?
I have indeed kept my string quartet. But I don't like the concept of a work. Everyone knows that many well-written scores have only been played once at the time of their creation and will never be heard again. I prefer to focus on the here and now, to conceive, destroy and... start again.

Interview by Michèle Tosi

Photos Ana Krichashvili © 2021 | Created By Integral Web Studio.