Born to unknown parents in Montreal in April 1948, Vivier left plans for the priesthood to enrol at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal, where his main teacher was the composer Gilles Tremblay. In 1971 he began a period of three years’ study in Europe, first at the Institute for Sonology in Utrecht, and then in Cologne under the guidance of Karlheinz Stockhausen. This mentorship, as well as his travels through Asia towards the end of the decade, had a profound impact on his work. In June 1982, Vivier left Montreal for Paris, where he began work on an opera based on the death of Tchaikovsky. Tragically, he was stabbed to death by a young Parisian man in a homophobic attack. His last work was the unfinished Glaubst du an die Unsterblichkeit der Seele, which contains a disturbing premonition of his untimely death.
Friday 6 May, Purcell Room — Long Song of Solitude with London Sinfonietta
Canadian composers combine forces with the London Sinfonietta as Claude Vivier’s masterwork, Lonely Child, meets a premiere by Nicole Lizée. Lizée’s new piece draws inspiration from Viver’s work, addressing isolation in contemporary society. Her work blends contemporary culture (video, soap opera plots, electronics) into pieces of new music that provide a commentary on daily life.The concert involves the combined forces of the London Sinfonietta sitting side-by-side with the next generation of musicians to emerge from the Royal Academy of Music, and features the extraordinary talents of conductor Ilan Volkov and soprano Claire Booth.
Saturday 7 May, Queen Elizabeth Hall — Vivier: Love Songs with Soundstreams
The first of two nights featuring Canadanian ensemble Soundstreams, a global leader in the presentation of innovative, carefully curated, and immersive musical experiences, will perform a selection of the composer’s most sincere and blazingly original songs for voice, piano and percussion. The repetoire will include Love Songs for 4 female voices & 3 male voices, Hymnen an die Nacht for soprano & piano, Shiraz for piano and 5 Chansons pour percussion. The night will also feature the UK premiere of Christopher Mayo‘s Oceano Nox.
Sunday 8 May, Queen Elizabeth Hall — Vivier: Musik für das Ende with Soundstreams
Soundstreams presents an immersive evening culminating in Claude Vivier’s mesmeric Musik für das Ende for twenty voices and percussion. Vivier’s musical universe is all his own – stateless and cosmopolitan like its creator, shaped by the ritualism of his Catholic upbringing but amounting to an unflinching representation of the realities of the human experience. Musik für das Ende carries with it the sense of peace and purity which Vivier tried so hard to find. The evening will also include a performance of Vivier’s final, unfinished work.