// Artistic project //
Canticum Novum has a passion for the rediscovery, the interpretation and the transmission of the most beautiful repertoires of ancient music, especially those that link the music of western Europe (Spain, France, Italy etc) with that of the Mediterranean basin. The latter being enriched with the influence of both the Christian world and the Orient (which has been moulded by a Jewish and Moorish heredity).
Since the society we live in has lost its bearings, we find it essential to maintain our cultural heritage which is so abundant. And we do believe in our role towards our youngsters. We regard it as our mission to accompany them through discovery as well as practice and creation. Thanks to what we have done so far we can foresee the tremendous work of cultural mediation that remains to be done in order to transmit the repertoire that we have faith in. The project we have defined means making the most of our proximity with the public and a constantly renewed dialogue with them, the musicians and our partenaries.
Canticum Novum was created by Emmanuel Bardon in 1996. The ensemble was in residence at the Opéra Théâtre of Saint-Etienne from 2008 to 2012. It was invited to the Festivals of Radio France, Ambronay, Sylvanès, la Chaise-Dieu, Tarentaise, Labeaume en Musiques, Fontmorigny, la Folle journée de Nantes, l’Estival de la Bâtie d’Urfé, Musiques d’Ici et d’Ailleurs, l’Arsenal de Metz, La Mégisserie, etc. It was also invited to such Scènes Nationales as le Théâtre du Chatelet in Paris, Melun Sénart, La Roche-sur-Yon, Montélimar, the Opéra de Lille, and the Cultural Encounter Centre of Noirlac. Besides, the ensemble often plays abroad (Armenia, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland etc.)
Through the pieces interpreted by Canticum Novum (from 5 to 15 singers and instrumentalists), the public rediscovers the musics (Mediterranean, Afghan, Turkish, Persian, Arab, Sephardic, Armenian or Cypriot) which range from the XIIIth century to the XVIIth. As they belong to different cultures and artistic expressions, these musics are extremely vivacious, all the more as they have been enriched by 800 years of shared experience. Their stimulating energy is a token of diversity, respect and tolerance.
// Repertoire //
// Ottoman, Armenian, Turkish and Persian repertoires
The most refined music of the Near East and the Middle East was born at the Ottoman Court in the XVIth century and it kept thriving afterwards. The modal structure that characterized it was the maqam. Its influences were multiple: Turkish, Arab, Persian, Byzantine, Armenian, and even Gypsy. It was not only appreciated at the court. The sultans loved it, as well as the soldiers, the religious people and the aristocrats, who all thought that practising music would allow them to ennoble themselves and to assert their power. Because among other things music was thought to have a social function. As for its aesthetic influence, it was due to the cultural richness of one of the biggest Muslim empires.
// Sephardic and Spanish repertoires
In Spain, King Alfonso X the Wise (XIIIth century) was a cultured man, both keen on astronomy and music. He liked to surround himself with great minds, whether they were Arab, Jewish or Christian. It was a golden age, which Canticum Novum revives for us in a territory where Arab, Sephardic and Spanish communities live together, trying to create harmony and balance.
// Artistic Team //
Emmanuel Bardon, singer and artistic director
Firts, he learnt cello with Paul Boufil, then he decided to devote himself to singing. While training with Gaël de Kerret he joined the Maîtrise du Centre de Musique Baroque in Versailles under the guidance of Olivier Schneebeli and Maarten Köningsberger. He obtained a higher diploma of singing in 1995. Today he takes part in such musical productions as le Concert Spirituel (Hervé Niquet), La Capella Reial de Catalunya (Jordi Savall), les Musiciens du Louvre (Marc Minkowski), Capriccio Stravagante (Skip Sempé), le Parlement de Musique (Martin Gester), la Simphonie du Marais (Hugo Reyne), etc. In addition to being a singer and the artistic director of Canticum Novum, Emmanuel Bardon created the “Musique à Fontmorigny” (Cher) Festival in 1999. He has been its artistic director since then. He is also the artistic director of the Fontmorigny label.
Gwénaël Bihan, Recorder
Christel Boiron, Singer
Agop Boyadjian, Duduk
Henri-Charles Caget, Percussions
Isabelle Courroy, Kaval flute
Varinak Davidian, Singer, Kamensheh
Valérie Dulac, Vithele
Shadi Fathi, Tar, Sétar
Marine Sablonière, Recorder
Aroussiak Guevorguian, Kanun
Emmanuelle Guigues, Kamensheh, Vithele
Spyros Halaris, Kanun
Barbara Kusa, Singer
Nolwen Le Guern, Vithele
Ismaïl Mesbahi, Percussions
Aliocha Regnard, Nyckelharpa, Fidula
Hélène Richer, Singer
Philippe Roche, Oud
Bérengère Sardin, Harpe
Maria Simoglu, Singer
Gülay Hacer Toruk, Singer
“It is a musical and spatial journey through the vocal monodies and the instrumental polyphonies which are rooted in the tremendous ethnological richness that the Ottoman Empire can boast of in the XVIth century, under the great reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. Canticum Novum successfully absorbs the musical and literary traditions, which spread from Europe to Iran, from the Iberian and Sephardic Al-Andalus to the nomad love songs of the Asian steppes, while setting to music the Afghan, Persian, Turkish or Armenian poems. With a combination of delicacy and audacity, the talented singers and instrumentalists (lute, flute, vithele and percussion players) offer us a fascinatingly sonorous novelty, a fabulously sensuous and allegorical journey which goes beyond the cultural frontiers.”
adapted from Marie-Alix Pleines – Le Courrier – August 8th 2015
- Ararat – 2017 Editions Ambronay – Distributed by Harmonia Mundi
- Aashenayi – 2014 Editions Ambronay – Distributed by Harmonia Mundi
- Paz, Salam et Shalom – 2012 Editions Ambronay – Distributed by Harmonia Mundi
Video recordings with the kind support of CNC and la Région Rhône-Alpes :
- Ararat – 2016 – Production Films de la Découverte
- Aashenayi – 2014 – Production Films de la Découverte
- Livre Vermeil – 2012 – Production Films de la Découverte
- Paz, Salam et Shalom – 2009 – Production CLC
// Main projects //
// AASHENAYI // An encounter in the Ottoman Empire
Under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Empire was at its height: both its army and its janissaries were feared throughout Europe and Istanbul filled the Western World with wonder. For Suleiman, the “Sublime Porte” was of strategic importance for several reasons: not only did it allow commercial exchanges and wars but it made it possible for the eastern and western cultures to discover each other. First, those two worlds were indifferent, and they gradually became more and more curious of each other. The result was a reciprocal fascination. Aashenayi (“encounter” in Persian) reflects this cultural richness. It invites the listener to a journey to the edge of ancient and traditional music. Echoes of Persia, Turkey and Europe mingle with the music of the singers and instrumentalists of the ensemble Canticum Novum. Each performer is dedicated to continuing a strong musical tradition while making it accessible to all.
// ARARAT // A musical dialogue between France and Armenia
2015 is the centenary of the Armenian Genocide. In order to commemorate such a painful event, Canticum Novum has decided to create an intercultural dialogue between France and Armenia. Let us precise that these countries have been closely related since the XIIIth century when the House of Lusignan ruled the kingdoms of Cyprus, Jerusalem and Armenia. That’s how Leon II de Lusignan was crowned King of Armenia in 1252. The influence of the Lusignan family was to last until the end of the kingdom of Armenia (1375). The cultural exchanges that prevailed at the Armenian court in the XIIIth century are being revived by Canticum Novum. In the repertoire that the ensemble has worked out, the most luminous pieces of music echo each other through messages of peace and mutual respect.
// PAZ, SALAM & SHALOM // Eastern Spain Arab and Sephardic music
“This ancient music reminds us that the body and the soul are bound to each other. (…) While making history vivid, it reminds us that it is our differences that create beauty. (…) This music offers itself to whoever wants to discover it, with its inventiveness and its audacity. (…) Paz, Salam & Shalom is so freshening. It is a lesson of harmony that comes from the past.” adapted from Gilles Granouillet.
Here is a journey out of time, which starts in the XIIIth century. In a territory where the Arab, Sephardic and Spanish communities live together, trying to find harmony in spite their differences. It is music that unites them and opens them to each other’s cultures. Its result is still vivid after 800 years of acceptance, with its message of respect and tolerance.
It is in Ottoman hearth that it is born, in the 16th century, one of the most refined music of the Near and Middle East. This palatine music, founded on the maqam, has bloomed through the centuries. It has always been favored by music-loving sultans. Its influences are multiple. Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Byzantine, Armenian, and even Gypsy melodies had a determinant influence on the development of Ottoman music. The military, the religious and the aristocracy practiced and developed, each one in its their own way, a specific musical form to ennoble themselves and affirm the symbol of their power. Just like a banner, music had as much a social function as an aesthetic one. Thus, a delicate and diversified music enriched itself, by assimilating every cultural aspect of one of the great Muslim empires.
The Persian garden, a coherent and structured set, seeks to express and represent the harmony between cultural and natural environments, between people and nature. A closed and mysterious place, stimulating to the senses, the Persian garden once invited rest, meditation and pleasure, and revealed the invisible potential of natural resources. In Ottoman Turkey, the art of gardening lived through an extraordinary development and whose remembrance arrived to us mainly thanks to the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. Over grandiose receptions, sometimes at night, during which the ostentation of the life at the Ottoman court never missed an opportunity to express itself, Eastern and Western music resonated along the paved alleys lined with ponds, orchards, fountains and kiosks.
Paradaia invites to a voyage to the confines of ancient and traditional music. Persian, Turkish and European echoes mix with the music of singers and instrumentalists of the Canticum Novum ensemble.
For 20 years now, Canticum Novum develops a musical project built around interculturality. It seeks to value music as a source of reciprocity and listening, as an opportunity for peoples and cultures to meet through a catalyst for cocreation and dialogue. Through these projects, each musician that belongs to this collective, with the limitation of his or her instrument, appropriates the other’s culture to be a resonance of said culture. Like an “ark” that welcomes the diversity of our cultures, of our instruments, of our melodies and of our temperaments, Emzara – the new creation of Canticum Novum – tries to show this setting in motion of musicians towards each other and to give the opportunity to hear this lively resonance of singular encounters; listening to songs and dances from Italy, the Balkans and France of the 15th and 16th centuries, a period of European history marked by great migrations, of a Europe in full transformation and on the brink of great cultural movements of the Renaissance …
Emzara (name given to the spouse of Noah in the book of Jubilees) questions in a sensible manner that which puts people in movement by making an undeniable echo to the contemporary situation.
// The philosophical approach to the EMZARA program //
The Mediterranean world was and remains a place of profound changes, only a difference in scale really separates the upheavals of today from those of yesterday. The Mediterranean has always been a zone of intermingling. The medieval period saw the developments of migrations, with characteristics that are similar to those of the great human displacements of contemporary times: the ebb and flow of Italian merchants that installed themselves in overseas trading posts; forced migrations of Armenians in Cilicia, or of Spanish Jews that looked for refuged in the Ottoman Empire, etc. The motivations are many, just as the itineraries that were undertook. With EMZARA, Canticum Novum wishes to question not only migration but also the welcoming land and put into perspective three Western European territories (France, Italy and Spain) and three migrant cultures (Armenians, Greeks and Andalusian) subject to exile after the fall of Constantinople (1454) and of Granada (1492).
The EMZARA program is built around two Lamentations, the lament for the fall of the Church of Constantinople of Guillaume Dufay – a grand musical personality of the beginning of the Renaissance – and a lament for the fall of Constantinople that came from the popular tradition of the Greeks from Thrace (oriental point of Europe). Around these two works, the musical choice is to be diversified: lullabies and dances from Armenia, Andalusian mystic poems (Syrian Mohasha), popular Greek tradition, monodies and polyphonies from Western Europe – which gives a many-sided and colorful portray of these territories from Western Europe that welcomed migrants from the East and that pushed to exile the Sephardic Jews and Andalusians to the East and South. In every case, music tells us – across human history and in particular during these periods of movements of the end of the Middle Ages – that the welcoming receives and that the welcomed transmits; creating in this way rich exchanges and leaving a strong legacy on the welcoming territory.