The extraordinary French composer Éliane Radigue was born on this day in 1932, and celebrated her 88th birthday today as an artist whose star very much appears to be in the ascendant. Her recordings are widely available now, in lovingly prepared editions with beautifully restored sound. Occam Ocean – the body of acoustic work Radigue has busied herself producing since 2011, after a lifetime of creating tape and electronic music – has swollen to more than 50 pieces now, and counting. Last year, the independent curatorial concern Blank Forms mounted a nationwide tour devoted to some of these works, as well as a series of New York playback concerts featuring newly restored analog-tape recordings. To the best of my knowledge, every event sold out.
More opportunities to hear Radigue's music, as played by expert interpreters and collaborators, loom ahead. Frequency Festival, happening in Chicago in February, includes two Radigue programs: one on Feb. 26 featuring violist Julia Eckhardt and trumpeter Nate Wooley, and one on Feb. 27 featuring cellist Charles Curtis, linchpin of last year's Blank Forms tour.
Should you happen to be in Paris come March, Ensemble Dedalus will be playing an all-Radigue program at the Philharmonie de Paris on March 20—though it appears to be sold out already. And on May 2, Brooklyn location TBA, Nate Wooley shares a bill with composer-guitarist Michael Pisaro (presenting a version of Radigue's electronic piece L'Île Re-Sonante) under the big banner of Long Play, a new three-day festival presented by Bang on a Can.
There surely are more concerts. (If you know about one, tell me and I'll add it.)
Interested in getting to know more about Éliane Radigue? This 15-minute IMA Portrait documentary is a lovely place to start. It's in French, but includes subtitles.
I strongly recommend highly Intermediary spaces/Espaces itnermédiares, published in paperback last October by les presses du réel. The book, printed in both French and English, features a lengthy, substantial interview of Radigue conducted by Julia Eckhardt, the aforementioned violist. Also included are an authoritative timeline detailing events in Radigue's life, and an annotated guide to her complete works. The book is available at a handful of online retailers, but I ordered my copy directly from the publisher, inexpensively and with no fuss.
Beyond that: just listen. Do whatever it takes to get your hands on Œuvres Électroniques, the extraordinary 14-CD box set of Radigue's complete electronic output, issued in Nov. 2018 by INA-GRM. The box has gone into a second printing after the first one sold out faster than anyone could have anticipated.
Then, get to know Radigue's acoustic music, in which players of extraordinary focus and patience fashion the same kinds of acoustic phenomena the composer long pursued with feedback, tape, and her ARP synthesizer. Occam Ocean 1, a 2-CD collection of solos, a duo, and a trio, and Occam Ocean 2, a spectacular performance by an orchestra of improvisers, are available on the French label Shiiin—and, thanks to U.S. distribution by Naxos, those recordings also are on YouTube, Spotify, and other major streaming platforms.