World music fans will be pleased to hear that the Belgian composer and saxophonist Fabrizio Cassol is taking up his summer quarters at the Festival d’Aix, for a series of events.
Join us after dark at the Théatre de l’Archevêché on Sunday 9 July for De l’orient aux profondeurs balkaniques, a concert with his jazz group Aka Moon. For this concert at the Festival d’Aix, the trio and their accomplices are offering a programme where the musical nuances of the Mediterranean region have pride of place. Embracing the challenge of interculturality and leaving plenty of room for improvisation, the new compositions in this programme provide a bridge between the music of the Arab world and that of the Balkans, and explore all the offshoots of their fruitful combination.
You can also see Fabrizio Cassol on the saxophone on stage in Pinocchio – the world premiere with a libretto by Joël Pommerat and contemporary composition by Philippe Boesmans (on 3, 7, 9, 11, 14 and 16 July at the Grand Théâtre de Provence).
Lastly, Fabrizio is returning to the Festival d’Aix to supervise the intercultural creation session of the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra from7 to 19 July. Open to a dozen improvisational musicians from the Mediterranean Basin, this programme by the Académie du Festival d’Aix gives these young artists the opportunity to experience the life of an intercultural ensemble during the creation process, on a residence and in concert. This summer, you can attend the public master class by Fabrizio Cassol on 18 July at 12 noon at the Hôtel Maynier d’Oppède, and discover the intercultural creation in concert in the evening of that day at 9.30 pm.
In this interview, committed educator Fabrizio Cassol describes his relationship with the transmission of knowledge, a concept which is particularly important to this musician, who has “devoted myself, body and soul […] to the various types of so-called ‘world’ music”.
You are going to be coordinating and directing the MYO’s 2017 intercultural session, in what way is the concept of transmission important to you?
Transmission is a crucial issue. Whenever a central issue arises, it is hard to know what angle to approach it from…
In other words, what makes you want to transmit knowledge today?
Throughout my career, I have accumulated all kinds of experience and received diverse and varied knowledge. Transmission invites me to ask the following questions: what knowledge have I acquired? What do I do with everything that I have accumulated? Will it die with me?
I have devoted myself, body and soul, day and night for a quarter of a century, to the various types of so-called “world” music. The time has come to think of the best way to pass on all my experience. Most of my musician friends are also teachers in conservatoires and elsewhere. That is not the case with me. Admittedly, I take part in a few workshops and give master classes 2 or 3 times a year, but I have no regular pupils.
For musicians, there are many varied ways of teaching. It can sometimes seem like sharing secrets, recipes or confidences. So it’s not easy for me to pass on something that I received mysteriously, intimately, sometimes on the spot.
Tell us a bit about the two intercultural sessions in which you took part in recent years…
To start with, let’s take a look at the terms we use. The very idea of interculturality implies availability for openness, which means that in this specific case, musicians from the Mediterranean use these sessions to form a circle that must be kept permanently open. By that I mean that we must always avoid giving in to the temptation to operate as a closed circuit.
As a coordinator, I notice that the concept of composition is not the same for everyone, whether it is music connected to writing, or rather associated with orality. For some, revisiting pre-existing music can be considered as a compositional act whereas others prefer to speak of arrangement. It is therefore important to grasp this and distinguish between these two concepts. Preparing for a concert will prove to be even more of an essential exercise when these young musicians have to put on concert projects that meet the tight deadlines set by today’s live performance world.
What are you expecting from this gathering with young people from many different backgrounds?
I want to encourage each of these musicians to give the best of themselves and to get the best out of others.
Any plans or, even better, dreams?
I hope to introduce these musicians to the idea of the “collective”. Indeed, be it in France, Germany, England or the United States, jazz groups have mostly been formed from collectives. This means that musicians have felt for one reason or another that they had a common interest and put all their strength, talent and energy into building something together.
I believe that the creation of “collectives” is the future of Mediterranean music. Indeed, these musicians often lack experience of big ensembles. Their music has developed in smaller configurations. Admittedly, you can find large string orchestras but the idea of a collective has not really been explored. When I say “collective”, I am thinking of people who, each with their own ideals and artistic sensibility inspiring them, choose to join forces.
Do you think this dream can come true?
This is a thought process that I began over 20 years ago, at discussions with Arab musicians. At the time, this dream seemed impossible to achieve. Today, these intercultural sessions promote communication between musicians from the Mediterranean Basin, invite them to meet up, engage in dialogue, find areas of agreement and reinvent themselves upon contact with others. This has never been seen before in the entire region’s musical history… It’s something that will surely expand the realm of possibility!
Interview by Aurélie Barbuscia, June 2017