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This work is about a man who realizes he’s starting to forget.
The things he has said and done,
who the woman is who smiles at him so kindly.
How he is to button his shirt.
Or how to swim.
He was born in the 19th century. Now, it is 1937.
He has written a lifetime of music.
From the hospital, he walks to a train station and departs on a journey.
Crossing suburbs, parks and mountain ranges, he arrives at a bridge over a broad river.
On the far side, everything is white.
He passes a square, a graveyard surrounded by water towers,
and reaches a gate, where he gets off.
He stands still on a square, smokes a cigarette.
This is where the piece ends. In the next part, which has yet to be written, he walks
between houses and abandoned shops towards a small limestone building without windows, an entrance into a subterranean set of wells and tunnels,
and continues his journey underground, until he reaches a court of lilies.
He pauses there for a long time, and one by one, the people from his life come to surround him, embrace him silently, shake his hand, and stand by his side.

 

This being the story as he tells it.

The truth is less lyrical.
Our protagonist in Paris leaves the Hopital St. Louis, walks along the
avenue Parmentier to the Goncourt metro station, where he takes line 11 to the Porte des Lilas.
On his way, he passes the stations Belleville, Pyrénées, Jourdain, Place des Fêtes and Télégraphe.
At Porte des Lilas, he gets off, leaves the station, smokes a Gauloise,
crosses the square to the ancient “regard” on the other side, descends down the spiral staircase and starts wandering around the underground aqueducts of the old Roman waterways.
At a certain point he stops and stands still, in the dark.
Just alone.

All the images in his brain, the train ride, the landscapes, the shards of his memories are completed by scenes that the names of the metrostations have evoked in him.

‘à la Cour des Lilas’ was written for the ASKO/Schönberg-ensemble and soprano Jennifer van der Hart. It is the first part of a larger work.