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Mnemosyne is the Greek goddess of memory. When I was about three years old, I remember marching through the room behind my older sister, playing a makeshift drum made of chopsticks and a bowl, all the while singing without words. This is my earliest musical memory.
The score for Henri Pousseur’s Mnemosyne contains the following instruction:
“For solo voice, unison choir or solo instrument”
Mnemosyne is based on the eponymous poem by Friedrich Hölderlin, so one is left to wonder why the composer allowed the piece to be performed instrumentally.
This reminded me of my three-year-old self singing without regard for words, as if sound were a language in itself. An instrumentalist performing Mnemosyne would probably play the piece while reciting the poem through sound alone. I decided to emulate this by performing the piece as a vocalise.
The final piece Cinq soupirs pour une clairière is woven through the entire program as one long drawn-out sigh. When do people sigh? As breathing turns into sound to form words, can we also think of sighing as some sort of language?

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