From Shadows into Light

From Shadows into Light

(Light of the Orient)
An astonishing encounter of Turkish musicians (kemence and kanun) and Ensemble Variances



From Shadows into Light (Light of the Orient) brings together the voices and instruments of the Near East and Ensemble Variances. Musicians and audience will be exploring the relationship of the traditional Turkish sufi vocal and instrumental music from as far back as the 14th century with 21st century transformations of this material by Thierry Pécou and Michael Ellison.

Together with instruments and voices from the near-East, Ensemble Variances alternates delicate maqam sounds with contemporary sensibilities, bringing the ancient melodies into a dialogue and productive creative tension with the music of our time. Both the traditional and contemporary works on this programme play with the idea of emerging light.

The ‘orient’, represented here by the works of Turkish sufi Mustafa Buhurizade Itri (1640-1712) and traditional Turkish Ilahis of tasavvuf (sufism), seek after it in their texts and with a remarkable consistency, while contemporary works show a more dialectical relationship: in Les Rameurs obscurs de la barque de Rê, the passage to light occurs after being immersed in shadow, and in the case of Elif, as the eternal truth of first utterance buried beneath the swirling sands of time and cultural overlay.

Number of people

Traditional musicians

Neva Özgen kemençe
Serkan Halili kanun player

Ensemble Variances

Liana Gourdjia violin
Masha Lankovsky violin
Cécilia Bercovich viola
Carjez Gerretsen clarinet
David Louwerse cello

2 composers

Michael Ellison conductor
Thierry Pécou



Kanun and kemençe opening improvisation

Michael Ellison

Elif (2003)

Buhurizade Mustafa Itri

Pesrevs in Segah and Bestenigar (c. 1680)

Michael Ellison

From Light into Shadows (commissioned by the Festival Détours de Babel)


Folk songs, Ilahiler (1600- 1850’s)

Thierry Pécou

Les Rameurs obscurs de la barque de Rê for string quartet, pre-recorded sounds and traditional musicians


Co-production Ensemble Ensemble Variances and the Festival Les Détours de Babel

The Ensemble Variances receive support from Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication - Drac Normandie, Région Normandie, Spedidam, Sacem, Ville de Rouen, Odia Normandie, Onda. The Ensemble Variances is member of Fevis, Futurs Composés, Bureau Export and Profedim. It is member of Groupement d'Employeurs Solstice, supported by Région Normandie. Caisse des Dépôts, main sponsor of Ensemble Variances.