The CPE-mim & MGConcerts present
MUSIC AT THE MUSEUM
ELSA DE LACERDA & PIERRE SOLOT
Sunday 22 october 2023 - 12 p.m.
MIM, Rue Montagne de la Court 2, 1000 Brussels
Elsa de Lacerda - violin, Pierre Solot - piano
Eleven songs of struggle, of resistance.
Eleven fists raised to music to inspire change
- Grândola, vila morena
- Strange fruit
- De mille murmures
- Apesar de você
- Bella ciao
- Independance chacha
It was an evening in May 2020, and we were all cloistered, besieged by the pandemic, prey to this new encounter with ourselves outside the whirlwind of everyday life.
The claustration was compounded by violent words inspired by the cracks in the media: certain professions, certain vocations, certain paths in life were more 'essential' than others. And among the others: musicians.
That evening in May 2020, Elsa showed me a video of Zeca Afonso singing a capella Grândola, Vila Morena at the Coliseu in Lisbon in 1983. A huge crowd followed him in full voice, some with their arms raised, in a moving reminder of the Carnation Revolution, of that night on 25 April 1974 when this song, censored for its fraternal message, was broadcast on the radio to announce to the Portuguese people that the revolution that was to overthrow Antonio Salazar's regime was beginning.
Throughout history, some music has played a practical, concrete role, a powerful rallying role, an essential role...
From elucidation to elucidation, the CHANGE project germinated in our heads: to sublimate the memory of this music that changed the world, to plunge back into these turning points in the history of societies, these moments of revolution and resistance, through the prism of our dreams and fears of today.
We put together eleven melodies, arias and songs. But it wasn't enough just to play them, without a word. We wanted a committed look at these necessary memories.
So we commissioned ten Belgian and French composers, young and old, men and women: they chose their melody, their struggle, and were given carte blanche to bring these memories and these great moments in history to life through new compositions.
After Grândola, our 'belgitude' could not ignore Independence Cha Cha, the song by Grand Kallé that announced independence to the Congolese in 1960 via Radio Congo Belge, becoming a widely anti-colonial anthem.
It was in South Africa in 1988 that Johnny Clegg's "White Zulu" first sang Asimbonanga, which means "the unseen", the man who has been imprisoned since 1964: Nelson Mandela. Johnny Clegg sings in Zulu and English, denouncing apartheid and leaving behind a song that will stand up against racism.
Strange Fruit evokes that strange fruit hanging from a tree, and the smell of burning flesh. It was 1939 at the Café Society in New York, and for the first time Billie Holiday brought her fragile vibrato to bear on this sombre song about the lynching of African-Americans in the United States.
Following in the footsteps of these great musical milestones on the road to civil rights in the United States, Nina Simone first published the song Ain't GotNo, I Got Life in 1968, which recounted her hardships as a woman of colour before moving on to the jubilant I Got Life, a feminist cry in the heart of racist America.
Further south, in Chile, in 1973, the group Quilapayùnet Sergio Ortega composed El Pueblo Unido Jamas Sera Vencido (The United People Will Never Be Defeated) in a matter of hours, a song in support of Salvador Allende, a song in support of the Chilean people violated by the military coup and the bloody rule of Augusto Pinochet. The song was taken up around the world as a symbol of solidarity, for freedom in the face of oppression.
In Brazil in 1970, again under the dictatorship, Chico Buarque disguised his criticism of the government as a love dispute in his song Apesar de Você, an effective disguise that fooled censors and whispered these words of resistance to Brazilians over swaying rhythms: "In spite of you, tomorrow must be another day, I ask you, where are you going to hide?
In Europe, the song Bella Ciao became an anthem of resistance, expressing the rejection of fascism in the mouths of the Italian rebels of the Second World War, who took up a melody sung by women in the Italian rice fields at the beginning of the 20th century, expressing at the time the hard lives of the proletariat.
Around the world, the Rainbow symbolises the fight against discrimination against people known as LGBTQIA+, and has come to symbolise the desire to put an end to the atrocious categorisation of human beings according to their sexual orientation. Harold Arlen's Over the Rainbow, far removed from the dreams of the young Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, is a song that went beyond its author to become political.
In Germany in 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the band Scorpions composed Wind of Change. The Communist bloc had collapsed, Germany was reunited and the song went round the world.
Finally, Eugène Pottier and Pierre Degeyter's Internationale has spanned the globe since the 19th century, exalting workers' and social struggles, symbolising utopia and unity since the Paris Commune and the Russian Revolution, and uniting students in revolt in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Eleven songs of struggle, of resistance, eleven fists raised in music among so many others in the history of the world, a history that must not be forgotten, whose musical reminiscences resonate at the heart of these eleven creations of today, for change, peace and fraternity.
« L’album " CHANGE" (…) est un salutaire ovni musical (…) Pierre Solot et Elsa de Lacerda ont réussi leur pari ambitieux (…) une réponse intelligente, un superbe pied de nez à ceux qui, lors du confinement, jugèrent la culture « non essentielle » Les compositeurs livrent de la création contemporaine une image vraiment séduisante (…) »
Stephane Renard — L'ECHO, 2023
CD CHANGE awarded with ⭐⭐⭐⭐ in BBC Music Magazine Grounded during Covid lockdown, violinist Elsa de Lacerda and pianist Pierre Solot were dismayed that 'certain professions' were deemed 'more 'essential' than others. And among those others: musicians. Pushing back, their engaging duo album Change highlights music's historical role at times of 'revolution and resistance' as a rallying cry 'for change, for peace and for fraternity'. Ten Belgian and French composers offer personal takes on melodies synonymous with 20th-century sociopolitical ferment from around the world - and it's intriguing that moods of reflection, celebration and hope subsequently prevail over outright anger or protest.
Steph Power — BBC Magazine, 2023
"On CD or in concert, this programme is a euphoria, but it's also a steep path through history that I'm retracing, my memory awake (...) Stepping out of his role as producer of Musiq3 - RTBF and actor, Pierre Solot reminds us that he was also a formidable pianist. Elsa de Lacerda, a former quartet player, gave her all as a soloist (...)
Martine Dumont-Mergaey — La Libre, Janvier 2023