Rue du Carro
1896 Vouvry (Switzerland)
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Grégoire Monnat was born in 1976 in the Canton of Jura in French-speaking Switzerland. He is currently still living in Switzerland, by Lake Geneva. He started from a very young age to listen to and play classical music (Stravinsky, Bach, Prokofiev) and pop music (Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa). In his teenage years, he studied baroque music. After obtaining his secondary school leaving certificate, he studied guitar at the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music (EJMA, now known as HEMU) in Lausanne. He graduated in 2002, which was when he started a series of collaborations as a guitarist with several singers and composers, some of whom enjoy international status (the Canadian Martin Ferron and jazz singer Sylvie Bourban). 2002 was also the year when he focused on musical composition. He studied orchestration and started writing an impressive work for numerous instruments. He also wrote film scores. Late 2012 he released the album entitled Grégoire Monnat Trio for instrumental guitars, featuring original compositions, which also drew inspiration from Bach, Goran Bregović, Schubert and Pink Floyd.
Grégoire Monnat Trio – CD
You have to close your eyes to appreciate the music of Grégoire Monnat. The notes connect and respond to each other, forming images and telling stories. One minute, someone is walking through the countryside while, the next, the pain of human conflict is being conveyed.
You can take in all these scenes through your ears, trusting what you hear. They know how to listen to all these images. There is no text to accompany the notes. The pieces simply have titles, then comes the power of the melodies…
In his 12 tracks for guitar trios, Grégoire, a Swiss composer and performer, combines melodic lines and a variety of rhythms, unlocking the door to his musical world, inviting you to wander through places, times and emotions. The album conveys a sense of unity, but the tracks are not cut from the same cloth. There are numerous influences at work, with glimpses of and even tributes to many genres, such as Bach, Schubert, Stravinsky, Robert Fripp, Pink Floyd, Goran Bregović and others. This modern composer draws inspiration from every kind of music he likes, blending all these influences to produce an accomplished album, composed and performed with great sensitivity.
An album for guitars
The guitars on this album, both acoustic and electric, 6- and 12-string, played with fingers and plectrum, lend themselves to any type of playing style you want, capable of producing both a metallic sound like the harpsichord and a sweet sound like the recorder. The melodic lines intertwine with and respond to each other. The tracks have a definite contemporary feel or are wonderfully baroque.
Grégoire did not take up the guitar when he was very young. He started playing it when he was 17, after 10 years of playing the recorder, because admission to the Schola Cantorum in Basel required him to learn a second instrument. This second instrument quickly displaced the first. This then provided him with a new direction for his musical studies and he attended EJMA (the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music, now known as HEMU) in Lausanne where he was awarded the Professional Certificate in 2002.
In this first album for guitars, Grégoire performs all the scores. Thanks to re-recording technologies, he has superimposed voices, while combining three tracks for folk guitars, 12-string guitars, electric guitars or a mixture of the three, and adding here and there a fourth voice to provide some small notes of colour.
Grégoire Monnat Trio – Concerts
Grégoire is accompanied during concerts by two highly talented classical guitarists: Mathieu Constantin and Dimitar Ivanov.
Mathieu Constantin was born in Sierre, Switzerland in 1987. He graduated from the professional classes held by George Vassilev at the Sion Conservatory of Music. He completed a masters in performance in 2011 and now teaches guitar at the Sion Cantonal Conservatory, as well as at the Saint-Maurice teacher training college. He is also the conductor of two choirs and a traditional music group.
Dimitar Ivanov was born in 1986 in Silistra, Bulgaria. He also attended George Vassilev’s classes. He obtained his masters in performance in 2012. He has won several international prizes, both as a soloist and as part of a chamber music ensemble.
A unique piece played by the Grégoire Monnat Trio was composed as a tribute to the music of the Balkans. It is entitled “Balkanska igra” (Balkan game) and you can hear it being performed by Grégoire Monnat, Dimitar Ivanov and Mathieu Constantin by clicking here.
Film scores/music for pictures
Grégoire Monnat is a great fan of film scores and theatre music, and is very aware of the important narrative function they have. He likes music that conjures up images, where you can imagine scenes (Stravinsky, Pink Floyd, for example).
Grégoire’s music is often admired for its evocative power, making it completely normal for him to embark on an exploration of this area with his music.
There are several compositions he has written for “moving images”, which can be mentioned.
In 2013 Grégoire composed audio illustrations for the portraits filmed of the winners of the Fondation Leenaards awards (produced by Le Flair, directed by Lila Ribi). Original tracks were composed in particular for the sinologist Jean-François Billeter, comic book author Alex Baladi, industrial designer Christophe Guberan and visual artist Elisa Larvego.
Here are some of his other compositions in this area:
Score for the short film Le téméraire (Impetuous) by Lila Ribi, selected at the Locarno Film Festival in 2009.
Score for the short film L’homme du trait d’union (Hyphen Man) by Pascal Parizot for TPC (Transports Publics du Chablais), in 2009.
Score for the short film Evastrasse by Veronika Karyuk, for the Movie Marathon Contest in Zurich (2009).
Score for the short film Shabbat, Dieu merci ! (Shabbat, Thank God!) by Jean-Guillaume Sonnier, 2011 Action Light prize at the Locarno Film Festival.
Regular collaboration with director Dominique Othenin-Girard (score for the short film L’éveil au goût (Acquired taste) in 2011, for instance).
The music for the musical show Une saison en enfer (A Season in Hell), produced for the theatre by Pascale Güdel, based on the fateful, definitive masterpiece of Arthur Rimbaud (2006).
There is one example in contrast to this, where the pictures do not move:
The comic book Barbochard: la porte bleue (The Blue Door) by Julien Cachemaille (www.chaussette.populus.ch). Grégoire composed the original soundtrack lasting around 20 minutes, an unusual occurrence in the comic book world! (2011).
30-minute profile on the RFJ radio station
2002, the year when Grégoire Monnat graduated from the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music (EJMA, now known as HEMU) in Lausanne, marked, in particular, the year when he started to make musical composition his main artistic focus.
Grégoire has listened avidly, since he was a child (thanks to his parents!), to every kind of music in which he has become immersed for the rest of his life: Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Andrzej Panufnik, John Coltrane, J. S. Bach. Then, Pink Floyd, Genesis), King Crimson, Magma), Frank Zappa to name just a few.
He then developed an interest in certain kinds of jazz: the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Helen Merrill …
He is a great fan of Arvo Pärt and is particularly partial to the “new music” of Philip Glass, as well as to Balkan music (Goran Bregović).
Grégoire has “absorbed” all these types of music and started to compose, at an ever-increasingly rapid rate, music bearing his own personal stamp, an obvious fusion of all these different types of music he had listened to.
His works are composed for a very wide range of orchestral arrangements.
There are numerous pieces composed for guitar ensemble, which have a separate section of the website devoted to them.
There are also his original soundtracks and film score compositions.
His other works should not be overlooked either, including:
La vie continue (Life continues): a long piece comprising several movements for a woodwind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet and bassoon/contrabassoon), written in 2011.
Several pieces for the vibraphone, marimba and flute (in particular, Temps immarcescible (Unfading time), written for the Ovale trio, Argo or Satte tango), written in 2011
Fata Morgana, for violin and acoustic guitar, a piece in 4 movements lasting 20 minutes (2011).
Several orchestral compositions : Kassiopeïa, for piano and orchestra, Capitulation, for orchestra.
An extensive repertoire of pieces for accordion – guitar – alto sax and piano (Circeïa group).
Les retrouvailles du catoblépas (Return of the catoblepas) for woodwind and brass : 2 flutes, 1 clarinet, 1 alto sax, 1 alto saxhorn and 1 baritone saxhorn (2007).
Several compositions for string trios (violin, viola and cello), written in 2007.
Several compositions for solo classical guitar with “unusual” tuning (2003).
Some “pop” numbers for various singers, particularly Onésia Rithner and P’tit Greg (2008).
Several “electronic” style compositions (2005).