A master of the marimba and vibraphone, French percussionist Emmanuel Sejourne, born in 1961, is also a remarkable composer. His body of work includes music written for orchestra, chamber music, percussion, jazz and theatrical works. Sejourne is currently the head of the music program at the conservatory of Les Percussions de Strasbourg — probably the world’s first professional percussion ensemble.
Sejourne first came to Taiwan to collaborate with the Ju Percussion Group in 2004. While observing the group’s rehearsals, a vision suddenly came to him — lighters in a bar being ignited and extinguished, concentrating on the light from the flame and the sounds they make. By working together with everyone in the group, they eventually created Between Light and Darkness, which also incorporates black light theater effects. With plenty of surprises in store for the audience, the piece has become an important part of the group’s performance repertoire during world tours. Since first coming to Taiwan nearly a decade ago, Sejourne has become a loyal and trusted friend of the group, returning to Taiwan about every two years to join them on stage.
For the upcoming “2013 Ju Percussion Group Spring Concert,” the group will be performing only works by Sejourne, who has been here since Feb. 25 to rehearse with them. He says that, “Typically a composer is commissioned to write merely one or two pieces, but I have the honor of being commissioned to write music for an entire concert, from conceptualizing the overall program to organizing the concert. It is very different from any collaboration I’ve ever been involved with. I must devote significantly more time and energy, but I am enjoying every bit of it.”
Artistic Director Ju Tzong-ching says, “A lot of Sejourne’s musical ideas come from everyday life. His melodies and harmonies are very rich. The music is very visual and theatrical, so it resonates with audiences. It is something worth waiting for.” Sejourne will cleverly combine the various works he has written for the group over the years, linking classics with new pieces to provide a full portrait of the composer.
Sejourne and the Ju Percussion Group will be performing at Kaohsiung Cultural Center’s Chihteh Hall on March 17, Chunghsing Hall at National Taiwan University of Physical Education and Sport in Greater Taichung on March 30 and the National Concert Hall in Taipei on March 31.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)