STARTS Residency Cosmologies culminated March 5th in the concert IRCAM LIVE at the Grande Salle, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Surrounded by a dome of 30 loudspeakers, the audience is situated in the midst of a virtual grand piano. Pianist Alvise Sinivia performs live on a Steinway D grand piano, with its lid removed, allowing him to animate the musical microcosm with his hands and objects. His micro-choreography is amplified and projected around the concert hall with a specialized three-dimensional microphone array, the em32 Eigenmike, and the 32-channel signal is diffused around the audience ambisonically. The computer “learns” from the spatial presence of the piano and performer, as well as from recorded data of other acoustic instruments, to mimic these rich interactions of timbre and space. As the piano interior explodes out to the size of the concert hall, the listener is situated inside the virtual instrument to experience its secret inner life.
A lot has changed since March 5th, especially considering how the physical presence of the performer, piano, and audience in the same space is essential to the experience of Cosmologies. I am so grateful that we were able to present the work to the public under these ideal conditions, and I thank Alivise Sinivia for his dazzling performance, the production team of computer music producer Manuel Poletti, audio engineer Luca Bagnoli, and recording engineer Clément Cerles, tech project leader Jean Bresson with collaborators Diemo Schwarz and Thibaut Carpentier, and the STARTS Residencies program and IRCAM for making it possible. We are currently working on a video and binaural recording of the performance, in order to give listeners at home a taste of the spatial experience of the work. In the meanwhile, I would like to share a few words and images: a brief introduction to the work, an interview about the STARTS Residencies, a more detailed presentation on the technological dimension, and an insightful review of the performance:
“A composition of 12 minutes that reveals where contemporary music research is situated, the artist being himself composer and performer who works on the relationship between body and instrument. An organic composition bearing the title Cosmologies, with sounds that are unrecognizable, completely new, sounds that resonate in the hall, appearing at one angle to be reflected at an opposite angle, like a vapor, thanks to a system of ambisonic diffusion.”
Alvise Sinivia, piano, Quentin Chevrier, photograph