In Nomine PPP

March 5, 2022
Cantata per Pier Paolo Pasolini
Status: in progress
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In Nomine PPP
Cantata per Pier Paolo Pasolini
for eight voices and sixteen musicians, with a video by Paolo Pachini
Texts by Pier Paolo Pasolini
edited by Roberto Calabretto & Laurent Feneyrou
with a poem by Biagio Marin
Video by Paolo Pachini
S. MS. A. CT. T I. T II. Bar. B
flute, oboe, clarinet, sax, trumpet, horn, trombone, tuba, 2 percussions, harp, string quintet
Duration: 60 minutes
Vocal ensemble: Company of Music
Instrumental ensemble: Ensemble Phace
Musical direction: Nacho de Paz
Coproduction PHACE, Wien Modern, Fondazione I Teatri Reggio Emilia, Teatro Verdi Pordenone & Wiener Konzerthaus (Zyklus PHACE)

Composed on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Pier Paolo Pasolini (5.3.1922 - 2.11.1975), this cantata is a tribute to the work of the great Italian artist and intellectual, even more than to his figure, his biography and the political and cultural role he personally played in Italian and European society in the 60s and 70s.
The stage set-up presents a large screen with a base of at least eight meters placed high behind sixteen musicians and eight singers divided into two choirs, all immersed in an almost darkness. The closely related interaction between the live musical performance and the moving images creates a unique environment in which the viewer's perception is totally immersed.
The dramaturgy of the work is based on a selection of PPP's poems and writings, set to music entirely and linearly by Stefano Gervasoni. A series of morphologically and sonically well-defined moments unfolds to compose an anamorphosis of the structure of a large cantata. This includes interludes during which some compositions by Josquin Desprez, based on the theme of lament, of mourning for the loss of a person, of deploring, are performed in their original entirety by the vocal ensemble and at the same time absorbed into the weave of a wider original new musical connective tissue by the instrumental ensemble (as if to imply: déploration pour la mort de Pier Paolo Pasolini).
This musical structure is associated with and deeply integrated into the dramaturgy of Paolo Pachini's original video, which unifies the work and innervates it synergistically throughout its duration of about 60 minutes. Paying homage to Pasolini's anthropological vision, the video presents poetic and exemplary images of the human being and of nature placed in opposition to contemporary media flows explored and transformed in turn by the eye of the camera.  The complexity and the metacompositive subtleties of the relationship between music and image are reinterpreted in an innovative way.
From the hybridization of languages emerges an expression that is lacerated, but also at times conciliatory, in homage to Pasolini's raw look, whose educational power lays things bare and makes them exemplary, all the more so today, in a globalized world, of whose interweaving of modernity and ancestrality the poet had been a prophet.

Artistic statement by Stefano Gervasoni
Through music, I would like to underline the content and values of his literary and cinematographic work, highlighting its sharpness, its depth, its prophetic vision, its topicality and especially its ability to interpret, poetically anticipating socio-cultural outcomes, the anthropological evolution of a world increasingly subject to the conditioning of technology, mediatization and ideological simplification peculiar to capitalism, but also to political movements that have tried to create an alternative to its globalizing thought.
In particular, I would like to address the conceptual knot of the relationship between barbarism and civilization, at the heart of Pasolini's vision. The search for an authenticity as close as possible to the human being, to the earth inhabited by men (often "the last"), to the human species as a species among other natural species, to its historical and ethnic origins, authenticity which is inevitably destined to change its meaning if not to get lost or degenerate in the process of social, cultural, technological, educational, but also alienating and unifying emancipation to which the industrialized world, freed from the self-protective constraints of the archaic or rural world, subjects humanity without distinction. This statement marks Pasolini's entire work, not without ambiguity, and his life.
For this reason, the texts I intend to use, selected from Pasolini's writings, poetic works, scripts and notes, belong to the decade 1960-70: these are the years when Pasolini directly addresses these themes with the tools of historical and ethno-anthropological, even more than political, reflection.
It was also during these years that Ernesto de Martino's ethnographic work developed in Italy, which undoubtedly influenced Pasolini: a profound look in search of the survival of the ancient roots of certain popular para-artistic expressions, manifestations of an archaic experience transmitted through the centuries to be revived and preserved, halfway between the artifice of renewal (revival) and the necessity of survival.
The choice of the vocal ensemble for the performance of my Cantata is based on this important motivation, fundamental to the Pasolinian spirit of the project: the interpretative approach must be anthropological as well as philological. For this reason, I aim at vocal groups capable of revitalizing the interpretation of the renaissance and baroque repertoire thanks to the contribution of ethnomusicological research, just as in Pasolini's research the influence of Ernesto de Martino's studies on popular musical forms of expression in southern Italy, and in particular on the practice of the lament (lamento) that archetypically unites cultured and popular music, has been decisive. To the utopia of the exact reconstitution of the vocal practices of the past, I prefer the (equally undemonstrable) utopia of a geographical métissage, rooted in history, of a collective practice that has become a common heritage. A harmoniously structured ensemble of voices in which the specific individuality of professional singers coming from different geographical and cultural areas brings together the musical archetypes unifying peculiar expressive musical practices linked to functions of daily life or rituals of ancestral origin, such as ornamentation, melisma, vibrato, and unorthodox types of vocal emission that involve a "forcing" of the laryngeal production mechanism, of which the lamento is an exemplary case. All this can only make us think of Pasolini's interest in ethnic music, of his musical choices spanning geographical horizons from Eastern Europe to Africa and beyond in films such as Medea and Edipo Re, and of his choices of actors : Pasolini very often worked with non-professionals, men and women with no specific training as actors, but with personal characteristics, a particular biographical or research background, who interacted with professional actors and actresses in an intelligently coordinated stage setting.
Partners of the vocal ensemble are the musicians of the Phace ensemble, refined and demanding interpreters of the scores of the great contemporary stylistic and expressive universe, now extended on a planetary scale, and crossed by the history of the countries that compose it. A cultural geography as extensive and rich as ever, a history of a century and a half of exploration of modernity and forms of human expression in the musical sphere that go beyond the usual codes and are linked to the history of music, from its vocal origins, of which the vocal ensemble is the bearer, to a future yet to be written and to resonate, that which today's composers normally entrust to interpreters specialized in the contemporary repertoire. An encounter, that between the vocal ensemble and the instrumental ensemble, which, instead, wants to go beyond the schematisms of the current modes of production that require the music of living composers to be relegated to a space of survival where an elite public and highly specialized musicians celebrate an antiquated and anachronistic ritual in the name of Art (with a capital A, to preserve the simulacrum of an art belonging artificially to history at the price of being dissociated from actual human practices).
An encounter that takes place in the immense soundscape of today, in the contemporaneity of the vivifying interpretation of the music of the past and in the original value of performative gestures that the past has selected and transmitted to make the voice of today’s music heard. A soundscape to be approached more with the spirit of the anthropologist and ethnomusicologist than with that of the musicologist and the theorist of music or art: in search of the deep, and perhaps partly universal, unifying principles of human expression.
S.G. 2.2.2021
Artistic statement by Paolo Pachini
From the very first moment my friend Stefano Gervasoni invited me to participate in the creation of his cantata dedicated to Pier Paolo Pasolini, in order to realize the visual part, my reaction was one of total enthusiasm and at the same time of serious reflection, also due to implications of a strictly personal nature. So I will be forgiven for an autobiographical premise.
Pasolini has always represented for me, since my early adolescence, an essential author, a guide whose work and thought had always been alive in family discussions and then in the circle of teachers and friends. I was born and raised in Rome and (as far as they remained in the 1970s) the environments, the humanity frequented and described by Pasolini were known by me directly; my family belonged to the middle class, but we lived in a border neighborhood, in osmosis between the center and the suburbs: as a child, my father let me play in the street (those were other times) and he was very happy that my friends were "children of the people" (I would say little "ragazzi di vita"); at high school, on the other hand, I grew up among budding leftist intellectuals, for many of whom Pasolini was a beacon. In this context, his tragic death was felt, and reverberated for a long time by the ones and others, as an epoch-marking event, as the end of the hope in a civil progress inspired also by poetic visions and a profound defense of class and individual growth. A completely illusory and childish hope in the face of the advent of consumerism (as P. was the first to know), but nourished by his courage and his wonderful and uncomfortable art.
In front of the new work, the question is this: what can an artistic creation in homage to Pasolini consist of today, especially if built also of images, deeply linked to music?
Pasolini believed with a certain confidence in the mere technical capacity of the camera to capture "reality"; although it may also appear naïve, this confidence gave him the strength to define the elements of a filmic writing of total effectiveness, where subjects and environments acquire an exemplary value. Pasolini's images are often far removed from the rich grammars of the dominant cinema of the time, even of the neo-realism, which sometimes maintains a "glossy" component. In them, instead, purely decorative, local "color" or trivially attractive elements are totally absent. Each element has significant depth and urgency and is strongly identified and structured in a functional order, the result of a precise hierarchy of forces. In a certain sense, we can say that Pasolini's visual structures are regulated by power relationships: there is always an element (of various kinds) that establishes a dominant relationship with the others and dialectically determines the action, only to prevail or succumb to it. Even the most poetic sequences are never vague, but always lucid, engraved (maybe symbolically) in the political "flesh" of reality even when they hover lightly in the air (cf. Uccellacci e uccellini; not even the famous “freehand” panoramic explorations of the landscape escape this rule).
It is precisely these structural characteristics that establish the right distance with the spectator and provoke in him the vital "critical" thought that the author sought.
Today, to the crude charge of "realistic" writing of Pasolini's images, with its "civil" and educational values, we cannot but contrast the plethoric, pervasive and barbaric universe of images by which we are surrounded. Here, the sweetened garbage of advertising of the media (internet first and foremost) now merges with an obscenely exposed daily life of the individuals, and the produced bad “infinites” not only manipulate our desires, but tend, to the limit, to completely replace the old "reality", which we are literally no longer able to observe. “For a few years now the word has been reeking of beauty, administered as an aspirin against the devastation of the planet” (said in 2014 Enrique Irazoqui, Jesus in Pasolini’s Vangelo secondo Matteo).
In this total mystification, the victory of consumerist compulsion has effects far more alienating even than those Pasolini foresaw; even media images that preserve a realistic style (for denunciation of power corruption or of tragedies of individuals and peoples) do so, with rare exceptions, in order to have a better consolatory and self-absolving effect.
So can images today still find an authentic expressive space, at least individual and lyrical, if not political, at least in the intoxication of the catastrophe contemplation? And what sense does it still make to think in terms of expressiveness?
With my poor means I have always sought refuge in non-places, where apparitions can still speak in the archaic and uncorrupted recesses of our psyche (in the hope that they can still be reached); the negation of the context or its abstract transfiguration play in my work an essential role in provoking emotions. And the deep relationship, the cohabitation with music, with its power, perhaps still intact, of psychagogic flow, is fundamental.
I cannot, therefore, attempt to emulate Pasolini’s strong and total gaze, but rather to absorb some of its qualities at a due distance, in order to try to make my visions exemplary. The homage to Pasolini wants to be, therefore, a rediscovery of relics of poetry off and inside the storm of contemporary images, by fleeing into a placeless elsewhere, but also by immersing myself in it with the extraneous feeling of an excluded one. Confident that the look from the outside will generate vision. To be, definitively, myself and therefore, to quote him: "to have no authority behind me, except that which paradoxically comes from not having it and not having wanted it; from having put myself in the condition of having nothing to lose, and therefore of not being faithful to any pact other than that with a reader (i.e. spectator) whom I consider worthy of the most scandalous research”.
P.P. 09.06.2021
Stefano Gervasoni is one of the most internationally known Italian composers. Professor of composition at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, he has received commissions from the world's major concert institutions in Europe, America and Japan. In his compositions the relationship with the voice is fundamental, declined in solo, choral, theatrical and in different instrumental contexts up to the orchestra. In Italy he won the Premio Della Critica Franco Abbiati (in 2009), in the United States the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation Award (in 2018), in France the Prix de Rome (1995-96), in Germany the DAAD (2006). His compositions are published by Casa Ricordi and Suvini Zerboni, and have been recorded for Winter & Winter, Kairos, Aeon, Hathut, Stradivarius.

Paolo Pachini has been active as a composer since 1990 and as a video artist since 2000.
As a composer he has created instrumental and vocal works, also with live electronics, alongside exclusively acousmatic works, performed in important contexts in Italy and abroad such as Wien Modern Festival, Festival Archipel in Geneva, Festival Ars Musica in Brussels, Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, Rai Radiotelevisione Italiana, Bologna Festival. In 1996 he won the CEMAT prize "Quarant'anni nel duemila".
As a video artist he has created complex video-musical works, of his own creation, collaborating with composers such as Fausto Romitelli, Raphael Cendo, Martin Matalon, Michael Jarrell, Mauro Lanza and Roberto Doati and producers such as Biennale di Venezia, Fondation Royaumont, GRAME of Lyon, Südwestrundfunk of Stuttgart. These works have been performed in several international contexts, among others: Biennale Musica in Venice, Barbican Centre in London, Conservatory of Moscow, Fine Arts Museum in Taipei, Wiener Konzerthaus, Biennale Musiques en Scène in Lyon, Festival MaerzMusik in Berlin, Festival Milano Musica, Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome.
Since 2001 he is professor of Electroacoustic Composition and Audiovisual Composition at the Department of Music and New Technologies of the Conservatorio Tartini in Trieste.
From 2008 to 2018 he has coordinated on behalf of the Conservatorio Tartini and Consortium GARR the realization of LoLa, the only low latency videoconferencing system in the world that allows a real musical performance via telematics between remotely connected musicians.

Stefano Gervasoni and Paolo Pachini have created "De Tinieblas" (IRCAM and SWR production) in 2020-21, a 50-minute work for symphonic choir, electronics, and video, inspired by the "Tres Lecciones de Tinieblas" by Spanish poet José Ángel Valente (1929-2000).
CREDITS Web Press and CARGO visual OFFICE