French Toast: Classical and Contemporary

Award-winning contemporary and classical ensemble, Quatuor Bozzini, will make its Yukon debut next week at the Yukon Arts Centre.

The Montréal-based ensemble will present an experimental sound experience that is probably new for many spectators.

French Toast spoke with Isabelle Bozzini, one of the quartet’s founding members.

FT: When we listen to the music of the Quatuor Bozzini, we hear something very theatrical: people talking, music full of suspense, and different unknown sounds (produced by the different string instruments) are all coming from the melody. Is your music like a “mise en scène”?

QB: We often do some association with cinema, theatre and contemporary music, because we hear this kind of music in the movies we watch, in the TV series we follow.

So when we just listen to the music, our mind is making some sort of “mise en scène” of the melody. But we are, of course, theatre amateurs.

Also, we do a few collaborations with other music, dance and theatre creators. Our projects are open and diversified. Some years we do a dance and music project, sometimes it’s a theatre and music project with other creators.

FT: When did Quatuor Bozzini begin its journey?

QB: At first, I was in a string ensemble with my sister, Stephanie Bozzini, in 1994. Then in 1997 we met Clemens Merkel. At the time we were still playing classical music.

In 1999, we began to experiment with something different: a mix of classical music and modern sounds. We also began to experiment with musical improvisation.

FT: As a young girl, what were your musical influences?

QB: Classical and pop rock, Romantic music and free jazz. It’s funny, in the ’90s, a lot of classical musicians were trying to look cool, playing classical but dressing and styling like popular musicians.

But the sounds of classical and modern music were never related. There was no link made between the music styles.

Now, with the quartet, we’re trying to build the bridge between music styles: for instance, taking Romantic music and interpreting it, transforming it intelligently as a contemporary musical piece.

FT: The ensemble interprets a lot of its own creations, but also plays works from other composers, including Daniel Janke, from here in the Yukon. What guides you in selecting other pieces?

QB: Sometimes we just love the work of new creators. Their work is different and we are just curious about where and how far we can go musically, trying to interpret the creations of these composers in our own way.

FT: How would you explain your work to an audience that is not experienced with contemporary music?

QB: We think we don’t know contemporary and experimental music, but we just don’t realize that we hear that kind of music almost every day. Every day we listen to contemporary music in advertisements, movies, radio, TV.

It’s not true to say we can’t appreciate this special kind of music because we’re not “connoisseurs”. We can all appreciate the music in our own way.

It’s like contemporary art; the real way to analyze a piece of art is to say how you feel about it.

You have to discover how you can be caught by the sound.

Quatuor Bozzini performs Tuesday, March 8 at the Yukon Arts Centre at 8:00 pm.

Virginie Hamel is a regular contributor to What’s Up Yukon who keeps tab on events in Yukon’s francophone community.

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