Listening then and now


A Franco-British collaboration


Amerindian artist and Kwakwaka’wakw chief Beau Dick writes:

We believe the creatures of the animal kingdom to be our brethren because in ancient times our two spirits were connected

This program explores the idea of humanity’s sharing of the planet with animals, birds, plants and the nature around us in an interspecies collaboration inspired by ancient cultures for whom the above quote was an unquestioned way of life.
Beginning with Thierry Pécou’s Sikus, which re-imagines the harmony of pre-Columbian music and the intertwining of visible and invisible time and space, called ‘Pacha’ in the Andes, we continue with the bright harmonies of Sonata, by the same composer, which are another variation of time, space, the visible and the invisible.
Music inspired by the vast expanses of nature and life that surrounds humankind on earth: this is what composer Stevie Wishart invites us to explore in the songs of the blackbird in her work Gardez la distance. In turn, but in a different way, François-Bernard Mâche brings birdsong, flute and piano into dialogue in Sopiana, with writing of phenomenal virtuosity.

A project based on dialogue with the non-humans

See, hear and feel with animals? A common element to so many Native American cultures and yet an idea that may seem incredible to us today. So, this programme asks its listeners: what could it mean for us to question our anthropocentric vision of the universe in order to think about common perspectives for different species? What can ancient cultures, animals, birds and their very songs tell us about our own past, present and future? If we listened in such a way perhaps we could then speak, think, see and feel in unison... This concerns all of us to refine our level of sensitivity and respect to other creatures with whom we share the planet.




Thierry Pécou

Sonata for piano solo

François-Bernard Mâche

Sopiana for flute, piano and pre-recorded bird songs

Stevie Wishart

Gardez la distance for flute, clarinet, piano and pre-recorded blackbird songs

Thierry Pécou

Sikus for cello solo and electronics


January 26, 2021
Conservatoire & Orchestre de Caen

This concert took the form of an audiovisual recording at Conservatoire & Orchestre de Caen

Thierry Pécou

Sonata (2016. Commission by Ensemble Variances and Les Musicales de Normandie)

François-Bernard Mâche

Vigiles (World premiere. Commission by Ensemble Variances)

Thierry Pécou

Sikus (2001. Commission by GRAME - Ministère de la Culture)

The cast

Ensemble Variances

Anne Cartel flute
Carjez Gerretson clarinet
Marie Vermeulin piano
Thierry Pécou piano

Guest artist

Stéphane André cello, from the Conservatoire & Orchestre de Caen


With the generous support of Diaphonique, a Franco-British fund for contemporary music in partnership with SACEM, the Friends of the French Institute in the United Kingdom, the British Council, the French Institute, the French Institute in the United Kingdom, The National Centre for Music, Creative Scotland, the Salabert Foundation and RWV Trust. Project also supported by ODIA Normandie, Office of diffusion and artistic information of Normandy. Partnership with University of Bristol, Bristol New Music, Caen Conservatory and Orchestra.