The Sword Song

With Masato Matsuura

In this new show, Aedes exploits what has always made the ensemble’s distinguishing feature: its ability to explore all repertoires, whatever the style or period, and its desire to draw them together in original new programmes. Here Aedes invites Japanese martial artist and actor-singer Masato Matsuura to join them at the frontier between choral singing and Nō dance-drama.

Despite the clichés we hear about it, Nō is a subtle art form in which drama, singing and dance are mingled. With the addition of Masato Matsuura’s sword fighting, Nō becomes a kind of initiation: the sword slices and opens, symbolizing both the end and a beginning.

Mathieu Romano and stage director Pier Lamandé have conceived an original plot based on the Five Elements of Japanese culture, in which a man (Masato Matsuura) retires from his fellow men (the choir) in order to return to them as a better person. One after the other he consults earth, water, fire, wind, void and plenitude with his question: what is my place in this world?

This programme in five acts in based around a selection of vocal masterpieces: Veljo Tormis’s Curse upon Iron, a shamanic piece which uses sword dancing to induce a trance ; Schubert’s famous Song of the spirits over the water and The hurdy-gurdy man from Winterreise (Winter Journey) ; the choral version of Mahler’s Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen ; Johann Hermann Schein’s motet Die mit Tränen säen… The voices of Aedes’s singers and the Nō actor meet and exchange, the ensemble borrowing from Yokyoku while Masato Matsuura helps himself to some Western choral repertoire from his place within the choir.

Throughout this exploration we hear Bach’s famous melody O Haupt voll Blut harmonised differently as we move from one act to the next, whilst the central pillar of the work is Aurélien Dumont’s piece for choir, Nō artist-sword dancer and two instruments, revealing to the listener the music of the elements which links us to the world.

Alfred SCHNITTKE Psalms of Repentance 12
Hans Leo HASSLER Mein Gmüth ist mir verwirret

Aurélien DUMONT Salutations Divines
Johann Hermann SCHEIN Die mit Träenen säen
A work for solo percussions
Johann Sebastian BACH O Haupt voll blut (first version)

Aurélien DUMONT Kaze no Matasaburo
Franz SCHUBERT Gesang der Geister über den Wassern (arr. for an a cappella mixt choir, cello and percussion)
Johann Sebastian BACH O Haupt voll blut (second version)

Veljo TORMIS Curse upon Iron
Aurélien DUMONT Yamakaze
Johann Sebastian BACH O Haupt voll blut (third version)

Aurélien DUMONT Le souffle du temps
Gustav MAHLER Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (arr. Gottwald)
Johann Sebastian Bach O Haupt voll blut (instrumental version) 

Franz SCHUBERT Der Leiermann, excerpt from Winterreise (arr. for an a cappella choir and cello)
Aurélien DUMONT Hommage-Akeji
Paul SIMON American Tune

Philippe HERSANT Quiétude de l’âme

1h25 with no interval


Mathieu Romano artistic director
Pier Lamandé stage director
Antoine Travert lighting


Masato Matsuura Nō actor-singer/sword-dancer
24 singers
2 instrumentalists
1 conductor

1 general manager


Sales contact

Anne-Sophie Pernet

+33 (0)7 63 52 41 39

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