Le projet Ulysse

Christian Calon

Programme notes

Le projet Ulysse

Built upon the the well-known contruct of the myth of Ulysses. The Ulysses Project is a contemporary transposition of the poem attributed to Homer which provided a reservoir of symbols to draw from, a network of relationships, as well as the material to be transformed. The Ulysses Project takes up the themes of the original all the while inspired by the interpretation of James Joyce from the beginning of the 20th century.

Composed at the end of the last millenia while looking toward the next, made-up of parallel actions that often run together, The Ulysses Project, along its very short trajectory, attempts a hand-drawn map of knowledge and value.

As much with images made of sound as of text, these sketches come together around several paths:

  • Language by which the universe is apprehended
  • Writing/the storyteller. The go-between and memory of society
  • Migration — the (non) return — The stanger
  • Matter. The knowledge of the world and the limits of our perception
  • Space. Matter seen from its opposite perspective. The mother of us all
  • God. Reality and virtuality
  • Love. The all-powerful hand which unleashes and calms the storms
  • Time.

The principle characters surrounding Ulysses and Penelope are Homer (the storyteller) and Athena (the mediatic voice). As listeners to the story which begins with Ulysses, we are all a potential Telemachus in this acoustic adventure which we are about to experience.

Here we begin, with a book — or a voice — and a bed.

[English translation: François Couture, viii-11]

Le projet Ulysse [The Ulysses Project] was realized in 1996-2001 at the composer’s studio in Montréal. The voices were recorded in Studio 6 of DeutschlandRadio Berlin; in studio 13 of Radio-Canada (Montréal); at La Criée, Théâtre national de Marseille; and at PRIM (Montréal). Some audio processing was realized in the studio of the Groupe de recherches musicales (GRM) in Paris (France).

The original texts were written in French, except those of Penelope, written in English and reviewed in improvisation context with the collaboration of Shelley Hirsch. The translations are by Éveline Passet (German), Fortner Anderson and Paolo Dibiase (English), and Geneviève Letarte (French).

So numerous were my sources of inspiration, inside cues and references (buried, lost or forgotten), hidden in the text and the music, that I have not been able to keep track of them all. Still, these names stand out that need to be quoted and thanked: Dante, Friedrich Hölderlin, Theòdoros Angelòpoulos, François Bayle, Fritz Lang, James Joyce, Michel Serres, Jim Jarmusch, Homer, Bernard Parmegiani, Jean-Luc Godard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Francis Dhomont, Wim Wenders, and Witold Gombrowicz.

With the voices of (German version): Shelley Hirsch, Nada Laukam-Josten, Wolfgang Michael, Gerry Wolff, and Uli Aumüller, Detlef Baltrock, Clarisse Cossais, Irma Laukam-Josten, Jonas Maron, Götz Naleppa. With the voices of (French version): Gabriel Gascon, Shelley Hirsch, Élisabeth Lenormand, Jean Maheux, Wajdi Mouawad, and Fortner Anderson, Uli Aumüller, Ned Bouhalassa, Chantal Dumas, Mario Gauthier, Geneviève Letarte. The guitar materials were performed by René Lussier and the voice materials by Shelley Hirsch.

The radiophonic German / English version of the work — produced by Deutschlandradio Berlin, and Sender Freies Berlin; Götz Naleppa, executive producer; Clarisse Cossais, asssitant — was premiered on December 4, 1998 during the radio programme Werkstatt on Deutschlandradio Berlin (Germany). The multitrack spatialized (on 89 loudspeakers) version was premiered on January 15, 1999 at the Zeiss Großplanetarium in Berlin (Germany).

The radiophonic French / English version — produced by the Chaîne culturelle of Radio-Canada, Mario Gauthier, executive producer — was premiered on June 10, 2001 during the radio programme L’Espace du son on the Chaîne culturelle of Radio-Canada.

The stage French / English version was premiered on November 8, 2002 during the Elektra festival at Usine C in Montréal.

Furthermore The Ulysses Project was broadcasted on June 16, 2004 by SüdWest Rundfunk (SWR, Germany) as part of the 100th Bloomsday celebrations, and in 2009, it represented Deutschlandradio at the 20th anniversary of the Ars Acustica group of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

Thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ).

The realization of The Ulysses Project owes also a lot to: Götz Naleppa, Chantal Dumas, Clarisse Cossais, Michaela Ziegler, Mario Gauthier, Irma Laukam-Josten, Geneviève Letarte, Uli Aumüller, and of course Shelley Hirsch.

Le projet Ulysse was awarded the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award (Canada Council for the Arts (CCA), 1996), and the Grand Prix Marulic (Hrvatska radiotelevizija (HRT), Croatia, 1999).


  • December 4, 1998, Werkstatt, DeutschlandRadio Berlin, Germany
  • Instrumentation: fixed medium
  • Composer(s): Christian Calon
  • Writer(s): Christian Calon
  • Year of composition: 1996-2001
  • ISWC: T9066209027
  • Publisher(s): Yul média


Les Hommes

  • ISWC: T9066203110


  • ISWC: T9066203109


  • ISWC: T9066203096

Le récit

  • ISWC: T9066203085


  • ISWC: T9066203074


  • ISWC: T9066203063


  • ISWC: T9066203052

HMS Calypso / Tempête 1 + Calypso

  • ISWC: T9066203041

La langue — le vent

  • ISWC: T9066203030


  • ISWC: T9066203029

Le rêve

  • ISWC: T9066203018

Hauteur des simulacres

  • ISWC: T9066203007

Le parking

  • ISWC: T9066202991

Le contour du réel

  • ISWC: T9066202980

La frontière

  • ISWC: T9066202979

Au travers du livre + Deuxième voyage

  • ISWC: T9066202968

Les sanglots + Tempête 2

  • ISWC: T9066202957

Dieu fait le ménage

  • ISWC: T9066202946

L’homme et Dieu

  • ISWC: T9066202935

Premier regard d’Ulysse sur la patrie

  • ISWC: T9066202924

Les retrouvailles

  • ISWC: T9066202913

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