2023 Programme


Incises focuses on today’s music, thus demonstrating the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence’s strong and constant engagement.

The central event of this edition is the world premiere of Picture a day like this, a new opera in one act by George Benjamin on a text by Martin Crimp, eleven years after the historic success of Written on Skin: a serious and light-hearted initiatory tale about the mystery of happiness and what makes up human nature, an existential fable in which a constantly evolving music follows the flow of life in all its accents and tonalities.

Two other works by George Benjamin are included in this portrait: At First Light (1982), an early work that contributed to his reputation, and his much more recent Concerto for Orchestra (2021), written in memory of the composer Oliver Knussen. Benjamin has indeed made many admiring friendships with his great contemporaries, as evidenced by his wish to programme two works by Hans Abrahamsen in his carte blanche.

The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions by Philip Venables and Ted Huffman is the other important creation of this edition: a committed work that brings to the stage a cult classic of queer literature, a futuristic parable that joyously celebrates differences and alternative communities in a neo-baroque fanciful revue for fifteen performers – instrumentalists, singers and actors at a time. This marks the third collaboration of this tandem of artists and former members of the Festival’s Académie, who have since gone on to have very promising careers, either together or separately. Ted Huffman is the highly acclaimed director of the Coronation of Poppea, which was performed in Aix last summer.

The last great figure of contemporary music this edition is paying tribute to is the French-American composer Betsy Jolas, whose work Ces belles années... is premiered by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, and co-commissioned by the Festival. You will also hear Betsy Jolas’ wind quintet O Wall (1976), performed by the musicians of the Chamber Music Residency, and A Little Summer Suite (2016), by the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra.

The Festival is also celebrating the hundredth anniversary of György Ligeti’s birth by programming his works in the final concert of the Chamber Music Residency under Kirill Gerstein’s guidance, as well as in George Benjamin’s carte blanche with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. You will also discover a work by the Egyptian composer Gamal Abdel-Rahim performed by the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra. Finally, the philosophy of ‘Incises’ extends to the whole Festival, since you will also have the opportunity to attend a great Arvo Pärt evening with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir as part of the programme of the Voix de Silvacane and Aix en juin.