The travelling concert of Gwen Rouger

Concerts 12.07.2022

The pianist Gwen Rouger has set up her caravan in the garden of the Mac Val in Vitry-sur-Seine. Everything is quiet and it is still cool on this Saturday morning at eleven o'clock when she opens her door to me. The appointment is made (and it is strictly personal) to attend her performance on the upright piano installed in the caravan...

On the table where the pianist receives us is the score by the Australian Charlie Sdraulig, Collector, which she will not put on the piano desk until she has read the few lines of foreword written by the composer. They are addressed to the performer as much as to the listener, as a kind of encouragement and a way of getting the performer in (good) condition to start the performance.

Gwen invites me to sit next to her to turn her pages, an activity which, as we quickly understand, does not require the ability to read music (the writing is very complex and the notation not really traditional!) but aims at a certain complicity between us both. The salad leaves and other greenery on the edge of the keyboard do not fail to intrigue, while other surprises await us, and this from the start of the performance!

In fact, throughout the performance, the eye as well as the ear are solicited. Close-up on the pianist's long hands and the elegance of their choreography: extension, repetition, touching, percussion, tension and relaxation that we experience and feel with her while the rumour of the world (footsteps, children's cries, birdsong, etc.) reaches us from outside: so many manifestations of the randomness of the living in this "concert for oneself", which we can, afterwards, share with the pianist, the feeling, the images that it arouses and other deeper repercussions.

CARAVAN at 'Ear to the ground' festival (Belgium) from Gwen Rouger on Vimeo.

The caravan, which is foldable, is itinerant. It went to the Musica Electronica Nova festival in Wroclaw (Poland) last May and will be in Perpignan, next autumn, for the Aujourd'hui Musique festival
(All audiences, from 6 years old).

Michèle Tosi

Photos © Gwen Rouger