Les Espaces Acoustiques

Les Espaces Acoustiques and Beyond: New Music after Grisey

Featuring the CalArts New Century Players and the CalArts Orchestra conducted by Mark Menzies

“Grisey stands among the foremost composers of his generation.” The New York Times

“We are musicians and our model is sound not literature, sound not mathematics, sound not theater, visual arts, quantum physics, geology, astrology or acupuncture.” Gérard Grisey

U.S. premieres

Exploring both the roots and enduring legacy of spectral music, this revelatory two-night showcase opens with the first-ever U.S. performance, in its entirety, of French iconoclast Gérard Grisey’s magnum opus, Les Espaces Acoustiques. The six-part cycle written between 1974 and 1985 became a touchstone for spectralism, a movement that sought to reconnect music with the full spectrum of sound, from consonance to noise. Pioneered by Grisey and Tristan Murail of the collective L’Itinéraire, this genre notably reconceived harmonic space in terms of sonic timbre and used electronic music techniques to manipulate live acoustic performance. Les Espaces Acoustiques begins with a viola solo and continues with sections for progressively larger ensembles, with the final two parts, for full orchestra, reaching Wagnerian heights of grandeur. The second concert follows with works by other composers influenced by Grisey and spectralism, with compositions by Thierry Alla, Philippe Hurel, and Gérard Pesson (all from France); Tristan Murail (France/USA); Wolfgang von Schweinitz (Germany/USA); Rozalie Hirs (Netherlands); and Rand Steiger and James Tenney (USA).

Listen to an excerpt - "Les Espaces Acoustiques"

Gérard Grisey: Les Espaces Acoustiques (1974-1985), a cycle of six pieces for various ensembles
Prologue (1976); viola solo
Périodes (1974); 7 musicians
Partiels (1975); 18 musicians
Modulations (1977); 33 musicians
Transitoires (1981); large orchestra
Épilogue (1985); 4 solo horns and large orchestra

Sat May 1 | 8:30 pm
New Music after Grisey

Philippe Hurel: Tombeau in memoriam Gérard Grisey (1999); piano, percussion
Tristan Murail: Transsahara express (1974); bassoon and piano
Rand Steiger: awhirl (2008); piano solo with electronics
Philippe Hurel: Kits (1995); CalArts Percussion Sextet; Ben Shepherd, electric bass


Wolfgang von Schweinitz: Plainsound Brass Trio (2008)


Gérard Pesson: Nebenstück (d’après la quatrième Ballade op.10 de Johannes Brahms) (1998); clarinet and string quartet
Rozalie Hirs: Zenit, uur nul (2007/2010); string quartet
Thierry Alla: Shot (1993); pre-recorded electroacoustic work
Gérard Pesson: Cinq chansons (1999); voice and quintet
James Tenney: Clang (1972); CalArts New Century Players and CalArts Orchestra

Funded in part by the French-American Fund for Contemporary Music, a program of FACE, with major support from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, SACEM, Cultures France, and the Florence Gould Foundation.

Associated Images: 

FRI 4/30
8:30 pm
SAT 5/1
8:30 pm

G - General Audience

M - REDCAT Members

ST - Students

CA - CalArts Students/Faculty/Staff