Mauvaise foi (2022)


Alice Teyssier, soprano
International Contemporary Ensemble
Nicholas DeMaison, conductor
Katia Bouchoueva, poet
Louis Goldford, composition, electronics, computer music design
Nicholas Houfek, lighting design
video provided by the International Contemporary Ensemble
premiere performance on 16 April 2022
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music, New York City

Mauvaise foi (“Bad Faith”) centers around the third in a series of poems contributed by Katia Bouchoueva. Le grand soleil, unfortunately, had to be omitted from our previous collaboration Au-dessus du carrelage de givre for tenor, electronics, and video (2019, IRCAM—Centre pompidou) but appears here in its own setting for the soprano Alice Teyssier and the International Contemporary Ensemble. 

The opportunity to work with Alice and with IntCE inspired me to revisit this text three years after Katia and I began a fruitful collaboration that produced numerous settings of her poetry. In particular, these poems were inspired by some of my own dreams dealing with the subtly shifting identification and appearance of its subjects and their surrounding environments. In Mauvaise foi the solo voice is often heard against a backdrop of shimmering, detuned beating patterns and voices that “melt” into nonvocal timbres. “Mauvaise foi” was Sartre’s term for an individual’s suppression of their own free will, instead succumbing to outside forces and adopting more limited identity “roles” defined by society. We cause this “shift” in each other and in ourselves, and today we see it at increasingly higher levels of society. “Mauvaise foi” also provides a framework for how I relate to the disintegration of subjectivity in Katia’s poetry, and to the sonic processes that shape this piece’s sonic material.

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