Ensemble: Wind ensemble
Duration: Approx. 8 minutes in length
Date of composition: 2020
A response to the theme Past, present and future, Écoutez relates to the learning of French verbs when at school, whilst also mapping the route to a concert – the rehearsal, performance and reflection after.
Throughout the piece five different French verbs are conjugated in tenses suiting the path: écouter (to listen; the most important of the five verbs), pratiquer (to practice), collaborer (to collaborate), souffler (to breathe) and réfléchir (to reflect). Sometimes the conjugations appear in a chant, other times in use as if in language, and sometimes in both forms.
The piece begins with a chant of the conjugation of écouter, before jumping into the past tense and reflecting the process of rehearsal: listening, then practicing, and finally collaborating. At one stage, all three happen simultaneously, and all build to the suspense of a concert. The performance is a meditative but careful one, written mostly in free tempo with phrases of breath lengths, and whispers of collaboration and listening over the breaths. Finally, the ensemble reflect on the learning process, while always listening.
Écoutez was written in January 2020 and is approximately 8 minutes in length. It was commissioned by the Bloomsbury Band (May 2020 premiere postponed due to COVID-19).