Joane Hétu — Chorale Joker

Les lucioles en tournée

Founded in 2012 and directed by Joane Hétu, Joker is an a cappella choir comprising a dozen vocalists. This unconventional vocal ensemble explores vocal texture and timbre; rhythmic motifs; sound poetry; and extramusical sounds like breath, babbling, and mouth noise. Joker is invested in marginal sounds, peripheral territories, and the spaces between the tones of conventional choir singing, and does so not through established repertoire, but by inventing its own language to suit. Joane Hétu guides the singers through improvisation and aleatoric music with a variety of conducting gestures, while leaving considerable space for the performers’ imagination.

Joane Hétu, for the composition of the piece Les Lucioles (Fireflies), joined forces with Jean Derome and Danielle Palardy Roger. The trio will be joined by 17 vocalists from Montréal’s music, dance and theatre community, all of whom share a frenzy of expressing themselves through the idiosyncratic use of their voices.

Les Lucioles is a feverish tale inspired by fireflies and by their power to emit light at night in early summer. Like little embers dancing in the darkness, for a long time fireflies have fed the imagination of poets. The ghostly glow of the firefly evokes the evanescence of life itself, which, like beauty, is only a fugitive gleam in the night of time. Borges wrote: “Extinguished light. Is it of an empire or that of a firefly?” Pasolini associated the firefly with resistance: a fragile glimmer fighting against the blinding glare of power.

Hétu, Derome, and Roger’s Les Lucioles thus becomes an allegory about hope in a world constantly threatened by obscurantism, power’s simulacra, financial stupidity and political chaos.

Menacing shadows and bright lights follow each other. How do we make sense of our current situation within the darkness surrounding us?

Using improvised music’s unique conducting gestures, the three composers lead the choir through the piece’s movements and mazes until the light of the fireflies will burst forth in the midst of unheard-of phonetic eruptions and words rising between rustling and hissing.

Les Lucioles is a daring collage piece, a collective composition bearing the imprint of all three composers and yet outlining Joane Hétu’s unmistakable creativity.


Chorale Joker: Joane Hétu, voice, objects, composition, conductor; Danielle Palardy Roger, voice, objects, composition, conductor; Jean Derome, voice, objects, composition, conductor; Alexandre St-Onge, voice, electric bass, electronics; Cléo Palacio-Quintin, voice, bass flute, piccolo; Lori Freedman, voice, clarinet; Catherine Tardif, Christiane Charbonneau, David Cronkite, Elizabeth Lima, Éric Forget, François Couture, Gabriel Dharmoo, Géraldine Eguiluz, Ida Toninato, Isaiah Ceccarelli, Kathy Kennedy, Maya Kuroki, Pierre-Luc Senécal, Vergil Sharkya’, voice

Fiche technique

Le concert peut être présenté en version semi-acoustique ou totalement amplifiée. Fiche technique et plantation disponibles sur demande.

In the press

“This is an ambitious work, requiring the utmost of precision and attention to detail…” — Mike Chamberlain, All About Jazz [Read article]

“Le public se retrouve donc devant des vignettes aux couleurs fort différentes, et l’alternance des trois visions crée une œuvre divisée en mouvements singuliers.” — Marie-Eve Fortin-Laferrière, Le canal auditif [Read article]

Freedman and Derome also appeared in Les Lucioles, another arresting large-scale creation from the Montréal community.” — Stuart Broomer, Musicworks [Read article]

“… j’ai grandement apprécié la performance vocale de ce large groupe d’artistes montréalais ainsi que la place laissée à la relève musicale locale…” — Alex, Mes enceintes font défaut [Read article]

“Something about fireflies and the light between heaven and hell.” — Eric Hill, Exclaim! [Read article]

“… the acked audience gave the performance a standing ovation.” — Irwin Block, Avant Music News [Read article]