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World Premiere of Eggert’s “Les Temps Modernes” in France

The world premiere of Moritz Eggert’s “Les Temps Modernes” for five percussionists will given on 16 March 2016 during the course of the biennial “Musiques en scène” being held at various locations in Lyon and in the environs of the French metropolis. The concert is part of the event “Sports & Divertissements” and will take place at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Oullins; “Les Temps Modernes” will be presented by the ensemble “Percussions Claviers de Lyon”.

Moritz Eggert comments on his new work as follows:
“In one of the most iconic scenes of film history Charlie Chaplin portrays the role of man against machine: the tramp works at the assembly belt in a factory which has been completely automatized. He makes a mistake and tries to make up for it, but the speed of the belt becomes faster and faster until he ends up in the inside of the machine himself, partly crazy and overwhelmed by the inhuman ‘Modern Times’ that Chaplin saw coming (and history proved him right later on).
Today we may laugh about the quaint vision of Chaplin’s futuristic factory, but the essence and the philosophy behind the scene remain unchanged and relevant until today. We can identify with the loss of identity and the depressing work conditions which are a reality for millions of people on this planet, even if the machines they work on are newer and shinier than in the old black and white film.
Chaplin was very careful and ingenious with the use of music in his films, and I have always been impressed by the sheer artistry of the soundtrack for this particular scene, which of course features a lot of rhythmic mallet instruments (especially xylophone and anvil) to portray the ‘hammering’ of the machines.
Mallet instruments are some of the biggest instruments in the orchestra, and they have a visual aspect that I find especially interesting, as the players have to make very fast body movements to reach the different notes of their instrument. The larger the mallet instrument the faster these movements have to be, and the association to an ‘assembly line’, where the player has to work very fast to deliver the notes he/she has to play is not very far-fetched.
Together with the fantastic musicians of PCL I have worked on various playing techniques that try to bring to life my vision of the very visceral music and the theatrical ideas that I have for this piece. The mallets themselves become huge machines, and the music is exploring the eternal idea of ‘modern times’ and the desolation and loneliness we sometimes feel when we are overwhelmed by a world that we understand less and less, and that is increasingly out of our control.
But even if we are nothing but cogs in the machine, it is the duty of art to rebel against that, to open up a space of imagination in which the individual can find his or her own voice. And that is what is most important for me in this piece.”

16 March 2016
Théâtre de la Renaissance, 8 PM
World premiere: Moritz Eggert
“Les Temps Modernes” for five percussionists
Percussions Claviers de Lyon
Gilles Dumoulin (direction)


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