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‘Sound Icon’ grant from French-American fund

May 29, 2012

The Music Department at Northeastern University and Boston’s most adventurous new music group Sound Icon have been awarded a grant from the French-American Fund for Contemporary Music of the French American Cultural Exchange to present a concert of the work of the eminent French composer Philippe Leroux. Leroux composes works in both the purely acoustic domain as well as works involving live electronics. He has been at the forefront of these areas for close to two decades. The concert will feature d’Aller for solo violin and sixteen instruments and Voi(Rex), a work for voice, six instruments and live electronics, the latter being a Boston premiere. Works such as Voi(Rex) are very rarely performed in Boston because of the technical demands – there are few ensembles in Boston able or willing to tackle the complexity of live electronic processing in demanding instrumental works such as Voi(Rex). For this concert, Sound Icon, conducted by Jeffrey Means, will perform these challenging works by Leroux as well as other works that involve cutting edge electronics. In addition to this concert featuring Voi(Rex) and d’ALLER, Leroux will give several public lectures, host an open rehearsal, as well as give composition master classes at Northeastern University, Boston University, MIT and Harvard University. All events will be open to the public and with the intention of exposing the Boston musical community to his aesthetic, research techniques and works. Philippe Leroux represents a different perspective on contemporary music and creation than many of the composers living and working in Boston. With Leroux’s involvement in the Boston musical community, we hope to spark a dialogue about issues that are rarely discussed in Boston, such as computer-assisted composition, the concept of research in art, the interaction between electronics and instrumental writing, and, of course, a dialogue around Leroux’s specific work and compositional process (particularly his notion of shape, and gesture as a cross-modal device).

Philippe Leroux was born in Boulogne Billancourt (France) on September 24th, 1959. In 1978 he entered the Paris Conservatory (Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique), studied with Ivo Malec, Claude Ballif, Pierre Schäeffer and Guy Reibel and obtained three first prizes. Meanwhile, he followed classes with Olivier Messiaen, Franco Donatoni, Betsy Jolas, Jean-Claude Eloy and Iannis Xénakis. In 1993 he was selected to enter the Villa Medicis in Rome for two years, where he remained until 1995.

His compositional output (about sixty works to date) includes symphonic, vocal, electronic, acousmatic and chamber music. His works are the result of various commissionners, with among them the French Ministry of Culture, Radio-France Philharmonic Orchestra, Südwestfunk Baden Baden, IRCAM, Percussions de Strasbourg, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble 2e2m, Ensemble Court-Circuit, INA-GRM, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne de Montreal, Ensemble Ictus, Festival Musica, Ensemble BIT 20, Koussevitsky Foundation, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Ensemble Athelas, Orchestre National de Lorraine, Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice, CIRM, INTEGRA, and several other institutions of international standard.

His music is widely performed in various European festivals and International orchestras such as Donaueschingen, Radio-France Présences (Paris), Agora (Paris), Venice Biennale, Bath Festival, Festival Musica (Strasbourg), Stockholm ISCM, Barcelona Festival, Musiques en Scènes (Lyon), Festival Manca (Nice), Bergen Festival, Ultima (Oslo) Festival, Tage für Neue Musik (Zürich), BBC Symphony Orchestra (London), Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Glasgow), Philharmonia Orchestra (London), Czech Philharmony, etc.

He has received many prizes and awards: Prix Hervé Dugardin, Best contemporary musical creation Award 1996 for (d’)ALLER, SACEM Prize, André Caplet and Nadia and Lili Boulanger Prizes from the Academy of Fine Arts (Institut de France), Salabert Prize for his piece Apocalypsis and Arthur Honegger Prize (Fondation de France) for his overhall production. In addition, Philippe Leroux writes articles on contemporary music, gives lectures and teaches composition at University of California, Berkeley, Harvard University, Grieg Academy (Bergen), Columbia University (New-York), Royal Conservatory of Copenhage, University of Toronto , Fondation Royaumont, IRCAM, American Conservatoire at Fontainebleau, Paris and Lyon Conservatoires Nationaux Supérieurs, Domaine Forget (Quebec), Georgia Institute of Technology at Atlanta.

From 2001 to 2006 he was a teacher in composition at IRCAM in the frame of the “Cursus d’Informatique Musicale”. In 2005 and 2006 he was professor at McGill University (a Fondation Langlois programme). From 2007 to 2009 he was composer-in-residence at Metz Arsenal and at Orchestre National de Lorraine, then since 2009 to 2011, invited professor at Université de Montréal (UdeM). From September 2011 he is Associate Professor in composition at McGill University. Website

Sound Icon is a Boston-based new music sinfonietta committed to performing fundamental new music repertoire from the past few decades. Our mission is to perform works that have redefined our understanding of music.

Well-known ensembles abroad, such as the Ensemble Modern, Ensemble InterContemporain, the London Sinfonietta and others have been trailblazers for this instrumental grouping, which offers the colors of a full orchestra together with the precision and flexibility of a chamber ensemble. As described in the Boston Globe, “Sound Icon, under Means’ direction, played with precision and fierce commitment.”

A key facet of Sound Icon’s identity is our commitment to this groundbreaking repertoire that requires the color and precision of a sinfonietta-sized ensemble. Each Sound Icon concert will feature a landmark work that is not often heard live in the United States. With thoughtful programming around each such work, Sound Icon attempts to engage audiences in a dialogue about what progressive music really is – music that redefines rules, experiences and boundaries.

These groundbreaking works, though well-respected in the musical community, are often not performed in the United States. Sound Icon intends to bring this repertoire and a sinfonietta-sized ensemble to Boston, a vibrant cultural capital. We encourage composers, performers and audiences alike to continue this progressive journey with us. Website

The French-American Fund For Contemporary Music, is a program of the French American Cultural Exchange (FACE), in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S. and is made possible by the Florence Gould Foundation, SACEM and the Institut Français.