Commissioned in 1981 by Jean-Marie Londeix for the Ensemble International de Saxophones de Bordeaux, and composed in part thanks to a grant from the Canada Council, Demain les étoiles (“Tomorrow the Stars”) uses all the instruments of the saxophone family (sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, and bass) organized as a set of four trios.
The work was composed with the intention that it be performed at the eleventh century Roman church in Fronsac (near Libourne in France), where it was premiered in March of 1982. It represents a virtual journey across the nine main planets of our solar system (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto), leading us beyond its confines to the stars — hence the title of the piece.
Two main fundamental principles operate throughout the work: synchronization and un-synchronization, and these, by means of the intersection of a series of intermediary steps between these two poles create various “frictions” that form the basis of individual instances of multiple tensions-easings present throughout the work. Essentially inspired by the notion of imitation, the quintessential source of all counterpoint, this music simulates to some extent the simple relationships of the natural overtone series, all the while continually varying the elements and making them more complex. Thus there is only one single music, one single voice that divides, seeks, rudely probes, returns unto itself, and either contradicts or harmonizes as the case may be.
Contrary to what Baudelaire wrote in his L’Invitation au Voyage (“Invitation to a Journey”) with regards to an imaginary and ideal place where only “luxury, peace, and intense pleasure” could be found, the music of Demain les étoiles explores sound in a state that I would describe as “raw”, in deference to the magnificence of Roman architecture wherein one senses the desire of the human spirit, by the working of stone, to transcend it’s terrestrial condition and attain the infinite.