Hèctor Parra,

Hèctor Parra, "Inscape"

A few years after their first collaborative work, Caressant l'horizon, the composer Hèctor Parra and the astrophysicist Jean-Pierre Luminet present the latest outcome of their productive dialogue. The concert hall will be transformed for the performance of Inscape into a space of cosmological experience through the association of a symphony orchestra and the diffracted soloists of an instrumental ensemble. Electronically processed sound by IRCAM in Paris, where Hèctor Parra has long been an associate professor, will make this new work from one of the most fruitful art and science associations of our time one of the highlights of the 2017–18 season.


«Inscape, for an ensemble of 16 soloists, large orchestra and electronics, at more than 30 minutes in length, will unfold a psychoacoustic voyage to the limits of the known world in order to take a virtual plunge into a universe that is well beyond our sensory experience. We will consequently be undertaking a Utopian voyage through a giant black hole like the one described by physicist Jean-Pierre Luminet, world-renowned expert in black holes and relativity and with whom we are actively collaborating on this project.

So everything will begin, once our eyes are closed, in a world of sound made up of tiny bits of sound – almost vocal – where the whisperings of the audience, the instrumental sounds and the physical space itself form a coherent and organic whole, a flat space-time in which the development of life and conscience are possible. But little by little, the mounting power of the orchestra and solo instruments, sped up by progressively more and more developed electronics, propels us to zones of extremely powerful energy. These zones distort our perception of musical space-time, transforming the fragility of the beginning into a rough and contorted energy. It is then time to plunge into the event horizon of the rotating acoustical black hole. We are penetrated by powerful gravitational waves, here literally produced by electronic sound. Their spectrum and changing density beat to the rhythm of spectral compression and spatialisation, a rhythm that transforms our perception of the physical space of the hall, which dilates and retracts in a cyclical manner as it follows the rhythm of the waves. But while we are surviving this extreme experience, we are ultimately led to a new universe through a ring-shaped wormhole, passing through without suffering any damage from the incredibly powerful gravity here.

What will this new paradise be like, a paradise that we cannot explore – just yet – except through music that is in the process of writing itself? Are we ourselves, as some modern physicists have suggested, the holographic projection of a deeper reality encoded in the outer reaches of the universe? Are we merely the shadow of the whisperings that we heard in the opening of the piece?»

                                                                                              Hèctor Parra (January 2017)


«The star that was light has turned dark, silent, fathomless. Black hole, funnel to frigid underworlds. Once we pass its horizon, it becomes the endless fall to a bottomless core. Mingled, interchanged, time and space collide and contract. The primal state of the world evaporates into interlaced elementary specks. What becomes of falling matter, energy, waves? Is there a bottom, a final falling point, a crushing singularity? Yet there can be no absolute end. An inexhaustible spurt is the only possible result. So then, a tunnel opens at the end of the black hole, a shortcut leading to somewhere else within our universe or even within other universes. When all markers in both directions vanish, no remedy remains for vertigo. New worlds ripen, succulent and full. A big bang is nothing other than the moment when the reversal occurs. From that moment on, the metamorphosis of the worlds is faster than one might think. Where the quantum matrix ends, baby universes are endowed with unimaginable forms. The ignorant think them flat, while nature fleshes out its curves. And space stretches wider and wider, expanding, always expanding beyond, again, and forever beyond. The sky, brimming with dark energy, turns frightful in its transparency.»

                                                                                   Jean-Pierre Luminet (January 2017)



Commissioned by Orquestra simfònica de Barcelona i nacional de Catalunya, Ensemble Intercontemporain, IRCAM - Centre Pompidou, Orchestre National de Lille and the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln


Concert dates

19, 20 May 2018 - Ensemble Intercontemporain and Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya , Temporada de l'OBC-Auditori, Barcelona

14 June 2018 - Ensemble Intercontemporain and Orchestre national de Lille, conductor Alexandre Bloch, Philharmonie de Paris - Cité de la Musique, Paris

16 June 2018 - Ensemble Intercontemporain and Orchestre national de Lille, conductor Alexandre Bloch, Auditorium du Nouveau Siècle, Lille

16, 17 & 18 December 2018 - Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, conductor François-Xavier Roth, Kölner Philharmonie, Cologne


Composer's website ➡️

Photo © Alain Riazuelo