Radiolarians by Michael Pisaro-Liu (Creation 2021)

// Minimalist music // Immersive experience //

The work Radiolarians is a command of the Grand Orchestre de Muzzix - a
large ensemble of around 30 musicians - to the american composer Michael Pisaro-Liu.

An uncommon writting process

Radiolarians consists of transcriptions of some of the creatures drawn in Ernst Haeckel’s book, Die Radiolarien from 1862. Fascinated by their forms and mineral skeletons, Michael Pisaro has created scores from 14 of Haeckel’s representations. Each one becomes an independent musical entity made up of various rhythmic and melodic patterns. The choice of pitches, harmonies, melodic patterns and noise elements are determined by the skeleton forms of these 14 organisms.

Michael Pisaro-Liu has imagined these radiolarians as living beings floating in the primordial sea, which is conceived as a key component of the piece. Noise elements symbolize the water throughout the entire work, while the radiolarians appear and disappear, sometimes moving alone, sometimes simultaneously.

En 2021 : an immersive experience with a participative orchestra

Radiolarians was created in December 2021 at Le Vivat, scène conventionnée d’intérêt national pour l’art et la création d’Armentières, as an immersive concert for the audience. People were invited to move between the sections of the orchestra that was split into the space, in a star-shaped layout with seven tentacles. This gave the piece its full meaning and enabled an active listening of the audience, bathed into this aquatic sound environment.
About 20 amateurs musicians of the territory participated before the concert to rehearsals in order to join the orchestra for this premiere.


Christian Pruvost Artistic direction, in charge of workshops with the amateurs
Le Grand Orchestre de Muzzix : Sakina Abdou (saxophone), David Bausseron (guitar), Sébastien Beaumont (guitar), Falter Bramnk (keyboard), Samuel Carpentier (trombone), Claude Colpaert (trombone, gangsa), Ivann Cruz (guitar), Barbara Dang (keyboard), Xuân Mai Dang (flutes), Audrey George (flutes), Raphaël Godeau (guitar), Martin Granger (keyboard), Patrick Guionnet (voice, objects), Christophe Hache (bass), Matthieu Lebrun (bass clarinet), Philippe Lenglet (guitar), Fred Loisel (guitar, drums), Nicolas Mahieux (double bass), Claire Marchal (flute), Yanik Miossec (electronic), Maxime Morel (tuba), Rosa Parlato (flutes), Peter Orins (drums), Stefan Orins (piano), Christian Pruvost (trumpet), Maryline Pruvost (flutes), Antoine Rousseau (bass), Jean-Baptiste Rubin (saxophone), Anne Sortino (violin), Valentin Wetzel (viola)
Claire Lorthioir Lights
Sébastien Leman Video creation

Michael Pisaro-Liu

Michael Pisaro-Liu is an american composer and guitarist, member of the Wandelweiser Composers Ensemble and founder and director of the experimental Music Workshop at the California Institute of the Arts near Los Angeles. As a famous composer, his work is frequently performed in the U.S. and in Europe, in music festivals and in many smaller venues. He has performed many of his own works and those of close associates: Antoine Beuger, Kunsu Shim, Jürg Frey and Manfred Werder, and works from the experimental tradition, especially John Cage, Christian Wolff, James Tenney and George Brecht.

Around the project

Michael Pisaro-Liu’s album Radiolarians by Le Grand Orchestre de Muzzix was released in 2022 on New World Records, following a recording in July 2019 at La rose des vents in the presence of the composer.
Listen to Michael Pisaro-Liu’s Radiolarians album on Bandcamp.


Creation December 8th, 2021 | Le Vivat
Creation residency December 6th to 8th, 2021 | Le Vivat
Distribution Available from January 2022


Production Muzzix
Co-production Le Vivat, scène conventionnée d’intérêt national pour l’art et la création d’Armentières
With the financial support of the Région Hauts-de-France.
Radiolarians - Michael Pisaro has been made possible through Jazz & New Music, a program of Villa Albertine and FACE Foundation, in parnership with the French Embassy in the United States with support from the French Ministry of Culture, Institut français, SACEM (Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique) and the CNM (Centre National de la Musique).
In partnership with the ESMD - École Supérieure Musique et Danse Hauts-de-France -Lille.

© Gérard Rouy

L’album paru chez New World Records

Muzzix is a collective composed of 30 musicians and based in Lille (northern France). It supports each year many artistic projects going from contemporary jazz to experimental and improvised musics, performed in many various ways, from solo to full orchestra, from concerts to installations or performances.


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