liber for voice and electronics

duration: 20 minutes


Back in 2019 I commissioned Pascale Criton to write a new piece for voice and electronics. We began work but a long hiatus intervened.. The resulting piece is now being premiered in 2024 and whilst the original concept of the singer using a Genki Wave Ring to trigger and manipulate the electronics remains, the subject matter is a personal response to some of the challenges of those intervening years. As Pascale explains:


liber is concerned with transformation. The Latin term originally referred to the conduction of sap in plant tissue and the formation of the bark from which paper is then extracted ; from there it evolved to become the root of the word ‘book’ (e.g livre in French). In Romance languages it is also the root of all words referring to freedom and liberation. The text of liber that is spoken and sung is underpinned by the unstable interplay of modal verbs (can, will, must) understood to set a decision in motion. Characterised by ambivalence and to-and-fro, the essence of liber is the attempt to ‘become other’ and the possible transformation of a hindrance linked to trauma.


liber uses six languages — German, English, Bambara, Chichewa, French and Maori — arranged not only for their phonic qualities, but also to reflect the transcultural universality of the subject matter. The singer uses a MIDI controller (the Genki Wave Ring) to sculpt by ear her interaction with the prerecorded sound events, thus introducing a lively degree of instability into the performance. (Pascale Criton, May 2024)



Pascale Criton, composer
Juliet Fraser, soprano
Alexis Baskind, RIM/sound engineer



26 May 2024: VOX festival, De Bijloke, Gent

23 November 2024: Rainy Days, Luxembourg

April 2025: Archipel, Geneva



Co-commissioned by the Philharmonie de Luxembourg for the Rainy Days festival, De Bijloke, Ghent (VOX-Festival) and Archipel Festival, Geneva, at the instigation of Juliet Fraser. Created in close collaboration with Juliet Fraser, soprano, and Alexis Baskind, sound design.





Pascale has written two other pieces for me:


— Alter (2022) for soprano and orchestra

Premiered at Tectonics Glasgow in 2022 with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, c. Ilan Volkov

Will be performed in a revised version at Donaueschingen in October 2024


— Ritornelle pour J & F (2021) for soprano and double bass

Premiered at Sound Scotland Festival, with Florentin Ginot

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