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[sax] + Eric Sleichim + James Wood + Collegium Vocale

“Uniformity in all directions” is the scientific meaning of isotropy, a term often used in mathematics, physics and biology. In Isotropes, these particles that remain equal when moving around in different directions are used as a metaphor for the sounds that surround and fuse with the audience. Electronics are being used to merge the 16 voices and the 4 saxophones.

With compositions of Jonathan Harvey, Eric Sleichim, Matheus de Sancto Johanne, and Petrus Abaelardus we hear a surprising mixture of contemporary and early music. Breath, the origin of the earliest music, establishes the link between both.

Eric Sleichim wrote his Isotropes de l’ombre based on a text by Leonardo Da Vinci describing how the extinction of the sound of a bell is a phenomenon that takes place mainly in the ear. The constant interaction between saxes and choir promises you a concert that literally and figuratively exudes contemplation. Isotropes de l’Ombre is, despite its distinctly dissonant harmonies, a piece that will especially appeal to the dreamers among music lovers. Just as cloud fanatics can spend hours gazing upwards to see how their beloved objects of study keep changing shape, in Isotropes their musical counterparts can surrender to the fluidly evolving contours of sound. The work’s rarefied, imperceptible and spacey sound make comparisons with Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna obvious. Long notes from the choir are rolled out before the listener like monotonous steppes, piled up and taken away again. Sixteen voices and four saxophones (perfectly embedded in the choral sound) thus build a more than 18-minute air castle that only gets a jolt twice: once when a metallic saxophone sound prevails, but especially at 11’25”, when suddenly there is more movement in the choral parts and melodic fragments seem to emerge. Seem, because composer Eric Sleichim quickly returns the misty aesthetic that has dominated the work until then.

Eric Sleichim: concept, transcriptions and arrangements
James Wood: conductor

BL!NDMAN [sax]
Koen Maas: soprano saxophone
Eric Sleichim: alto saxophone
Piet Rebel: tenor saxophone
Raf Minten: baritone saxophone

Edwige Cardoen, Inge Clerix, Elisabeth Rapp, Annelies Brants*: soprano
Gudrun Köllner, Lieve Mertens, Cécile Pilorger, Gunther Vandeven: alto/countertenor
Malcolm Bennett, Amine Hadef, Dan Martin, José Pizarro: tenor
Stefan Drexlmeier, Sebastian Myrus, Kai Rouven Seeger, Robert van der Vinne: bass

Isotropes is a production of Collegium Vocale Gent. Composition commission to Eric Sleichim for Isotropes de l’ombre by Collegium Vocale Gent. Thanks to Grame/Lyon(centre national de création musicale) for the development of the electronics for sound manipulation and spatialisation and De Brigittines/Brussels.


John Cage: Five
Jonathan Harvey: Mortuos plango vivos voco
Petrus Abaelardus: Planctus david super saul et ionatha
Jonathan Harvey: Ricercare una melodia
Anonymus (12e eeuw): Ordo rachelis ‘sanguinem nostrum‘
Eric Sleichim: Isotropes de l‘ombre


“La force de Sleichim est, notamment, sa capacité à embarquer l ‘écoute dans la pure jouissance sonore, surgie des séductions du saxophone pour se transformer, grâce à l’électronique et au jeu des enceintes, en un monde exclusif, puissant, infini.
Tous les musiciens sont unis par une virtuosité qui trouvera son sommet dans ‘Isotropes’, glorieux avatar de l’Ars Subtillor du XIIIe siècle. On en redemande.”
Martine Dumont, La Libre Belgique 27.10.2007


24 Oct
BOZAR - Kaaitheater - Kapellekerk
Brussel - Bruxelles (BE)
23 Oct
Gent (BE)
21 Oct
Antwerpen (BE)
19 Jul
Festival de Saintes
Saintes (FR)