The ensemble VOIX OBLIGÉES was born out of friendship and collaboration, the extension of the duos formed by Lillian Gordis with Anthony Marini (violin) and Johanna Bartz (traverso) to play sonatas for obbligato harpsichord and a treble instrument. This naturally created a desire to explore the trio repertoire, harpsichord concerti, and triple concerti for violin, traverso and harpsichord. VOIX OBLIGÉES has a variable form based around the regular participation of Boris Winter, Bimo Yudomartono, Nicolas Verhoeven, François Leyrit, Myriam Mahnane and Varoujan Doneyan.
Concerts on the series Musacor (2015) and Jeunes Talents (2015-2016), as well as a residency-workshop at the Fondation Royaumont (2017), have led to new collaborations, the first of which consists of of Bach’s complete concerti for two harpsichords with Bertrand Cuiller (2017).
Multifaceted ensemble dedicated to music for music for obbligato voice and instruments of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Lillian Gordis : direction and harpsichord.
This ensemble was once called Oasis of Horror. Here is our story:
« ...une oasis d’horreur dans un désert d’ennui... »
This quote, derived from Charles Baudelaire’s poem, ‘Le Voyage’ and appropriated by the Chilean author Roberto Bolaño in his essay ‘Literature + Illness = Illness’, inspired me to bring together several artistic movements that inspire me and that go beyond the Baroque: if music is an ‘oasis of horror in a desert of ennui’, it can be as full of horror as of beauty. Oasis of Horror is a group of musicians that collaborates in this quest to go beyond the ‘pretty’ in order to connect listeners to the pantheon of human emotions, for better or for worse, through the grandeur of Johann Sebastian Bach’s timeless work. We additionally seek to extend this project to other artistic media, favoring repertoire that serves as more than mere entertainment and has the power to touch as much as to shock the listener.
Oasis of Horror is a refuge from the perpetual ennui of an easy, comfortable emotional desert. It urges audiences to share in a process of exposing, unfolding and inebriating oneself through art, of offering oneself up to minute encounters with timelessness. Music should never been an ode to easy beauty but rather should offer a place of shared expression that covers the gamut of human passions, from joy and suffering to naïveté. Since the beginnings of the early music movement, we have had to fight against the limitations of strict historicism and expectations of an antiquated and irrelevant beauty. But nothing in this music and in the art of this period corresponds to this gross simplification, which is nonetheless all too common. As inheritors of this new tradition of historically informed performance, the musicians of Oasis of Horror wish to distance themselves from an ideal of hieratic historicity that is all too often under-informed and under-nuanced. We wish not to dust off the oeuvre of Bach but rather to demonstrate that it can occupy its rightful place in the contemporary artistic landscape of the 21st century without having to choose between replicating its history and ignoring it.
I chose the name of my ensemble in an effort to fight against the tendency towards the easily consumed and overly mediatised ideal of beauty from which the current generation of baroqueux suffers. The concert for us a moment of voyage, par excellence, in which the listener and the musician strive to transcend the banality of everyday life. In our over-connected and under-motivated world, the ease of access to aesthetic experiences can make us lazy and shield us from the need to question ourselves—a process that is essential to the artistic act. A performer owes it to audiences to fully assume this responsibility and to put our toolbox—the infinite richness of the human experience—to the best possible use. In this sense, it is as much horror and our oases from it that have the power to save us from ennui and to lead us on a journey far from the spleen of instant gratification and buzzing phones.
But this name also has the potential to repulse and scare our audience. Our essential goal of liberating ourselves through the necessary voices — the 'voix obligées' — in Bach inspired this new name. Our mix of instruments, voices, and sacred and secular music finds its justification in the absolute universality of Bach’s art; all its grandeur as well as its technical detail inspire, instruct, and nourish these young artists, who are challenging themselves to follow in Bach’s steps to expand heir artistic palette as much as possible. VOIX OBLIGÉES has found its identity in the obbligato.
So we remain inhabitants of the Oasis. Our concerns about media and technology notwithstanding, we appreciate the use of image, video, installations, and other high-quality means of communication. We are not hermetic in the face of social networks, but prefer to plant ourselves firmly on this terrain, ready to apply the most advanced techniques of communication to make visible and accessible our conviction that everything can and should serve great music.