La Passion de Simone (chamber)

Publisher Chester Music Ltd
Category Large Ensemble (7 or more players)
Year Composed  2006 – 2013
Duration 1 Hours 15 Minutes
Chorus Vocal Quartet
Soloist Soprano solo
Orchestration Hire explain this
Libretto Click here

Programme Note
La Passion de Simone (chamber)

I have been reading Simone Weil’s writings since my youth. The Finnish translation of her book Gravity and Grace was one of the few things I packed into my suitcase when I travelled to Germany in 1981 to continue my studies in composition. Later, I began to read her writings in the original French and also learned more about her life.

The combination of Weil’s severe asceticism and her passionate quest for truth has appealed to me ever since I first read her thoughts. La passion de Simone was specifically the result of collaboration with Amin Maalouf and Peter Sellars; together we chose the different parts of Weil’s work and life for the libretto before I began composing. Whereas I have always been fascinated by Simone’s striving for abstract (mathematical) and spiritual-intellectual goals, Peter introduced us her social awareness and political activities. Amin brought out the gaping discrepancy between her philosophy and her life, showing the fate of the frail human being amongst great ideas. In addition to Simone Weil’s life and ideas, many general questions of human existence are presented in Amin’s text.

La Passion consists of 15 stations. The idea for the form of the text and the entire work came from the Passion play tradition. This outer form is, however, the only clear similarity to the traditional oratorio. The 15 movements are different in character and structure, and they shed light on different moments in Simone Weil’s life and interpret some of her ideas.

In 2012, La Chambre aux echos company offered me to collaborate with them on a chamber version of La Passion de Simone, and their sensitive ideas inspired me to work on this reduction, and I wanted to share with them the experience of creating a new and intimate version of the piece. The world premiere took place in 2013 at the Melos Ethos Festival.

This chamber version of La Passion de Simone was commissioned jointly by Music Centre Slovakia, Festival de Saint Denis and The Lublin Centre for Intercultural Creative Initiatives “Crossroads”.

The piece is dedicated for my children Aleksi and Aliisa.

© Kaija Saariaho