Joël Grare

A self-taught child of rock and drummer-percussionist, Grare is fascinated by the cultures which line the Silk Road, early 20th Century French and Russian music and, curiously, the harpsichord!

Over time and from his travels, Grare has collected an ‘instrumentarium’ creating both soft and clamorous sounds. These instruments range from Madagascan straws to Japanese drums, not forgetting the unique chromatic fan of round steel cowbells from Chamonix, covering four octaves.

Today, Grare likes to travel light with a small hand-luggage of castanets, tambourines, mini woodblocks, wooden frogs, toy pigs (!) and other idiophones which stimulate the imagination.

Owing to his insatiable curiosity, Grare and his instruments travel through time and space. He has performed baroque music with the Poème Harmonique, Patricia Petibon and Amarillis, flamenco with Daniel Manzanas and ‘world symphonic’ with Yvan Cassar. He has also profited from a decade-long collaboration with Jean-François Zygel, experimenting with iconoclastic improvisation in concert and on stage for silent films. Zygel and Grare were also joined by Didier Malherbe, forming a trio under the evocative name ‘Around the World in 80 Minutes’.

In 2002, Grare composed ‘Follow’ for a duo with the choreographer and dancer Zheng Wu. On the invitation of Carolyn Carlson, the show was premiered at the Biennale in Venice and became the material for Grare’s first CD with the record label Alpha in 2003.

Since 2006, Grare has been performing solo in a series of musical miniatures brought together under the title ‘The Bell and the Butterfly’.

Grare released ‘Paris-Istanbul-Shanghai’ with Alpha in 2008. This was the result of his meeting with Guo Gan, a virtuoso of the erhu (a Chinese violin), Bruno Helstroffer, a Hendrixian theorbo player, Emek Evci, a Turkish double bass player with Balkan tastes and the flamenco dancer and choreographer, Karine Herroud-Gonzalez.

Inspired by the poem of Aimé Césaire, Grare composed the music for Philippe Bérenger’s film ‘Notebook of a Return to the Native Land’. Grare also wrote the music to ‘Cami’, directed by Laurent Pelly and performed at the National Theatre of Toulouse. The show followed Agathe Mélinand’s adaptation, drawing from the writings of the comedian.

Grare took part in the creation of the symphonic poem ‘Chinese Ink’ by Yvan Cassar, performed at the Palais des Congrès in 2005. He also participated in the opening of the Festival of Sacred Music in Fez for Armand Amar’s ‘Oratorio Mundi’ in 2011.

In 2012, Grare co-wrote the show ‘Birdyphonia’ with Jean Boucault and Johnny Rasse, two musicians who imitate birdsong using only their voice and hands, and the flutist Pierre Hamon.

Grare collaborated with Pascal Contet in 2013 to write the music to ‘I Love You’, a show by Didier Galas, directed by Christian Rizzo at the National Theatre of Bretagne.

In 2014, Grare put together a show ‘for all children, young and old’ with the comedian Emmanuelle Magdalena, on water and its transformations, titled ‘The Voices of the Water’.

In 2015, he composed a recital for bells called ‘The Sledge beneath the Snow’.

Selective Discography

Joël Grare – ‘Follow’ (Alpha) – ‘Paris-Istanbul-Shangai’ (Alpha) – ‘Cahier d’un retour au pays natal’ DVD (les Films du Paradoxe)

Vincent Dumestre and the Poème Harmonique (Alpha) – ‘Aux marches du palais’ – ‘L’humaine comédie’, Etienne Moulinié – ‘Il Fásolo ?’ – ‘El Fenix de Paris’, Luis de Briceño

Patricia Petibon (Deutsche Grammophone) – ‘Rosso’ – ‘Mélancholia’ – ‘Nouveau Monde’

Yvan Cassar – ‘L’Odyssée de l’espèce’ (Universal) – Pablo Heras-Casado and Concerto Köln – ‘El maestro Farinelli’ (Archiv Produktion)

Jean-François Zygel – ‘La boite à musique’ DVD Season 1, 2, 4 (Naïve)



Photo credits : © Marie-Emmanuelle Brétel 

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