The Babx Children’s March, a musical crusade for the new generation

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Vesul. Edwige Feuillère Theater. 2-V-2022. Maurice Babin (Babx): La Marche des enfants, musical creation on poems by William Blake, Pier Paolo Pasolini, James Baldwin. Instructor: Mike Guermyet. Choreography: Cécile Danjou. List: Philippe Mouillet. Costumes: Marine Gressier. Video: Steven Guermyet. With: Emmanuel Reymond, double bass; Jean-Louis Marchand, clarinets; David Neerman, percussion; David Babin (Babx), piano. Children and teenagers in the singing-in-theater workshop in Pôle d’Excellence, musical direction: Pierre Frantz

Last order placed with the songwriter Babx by the Justiniana Ensemble for the Center of Excellence at the Edwige-Feuillère Theater in Vesoul, The children’s march opens the 13ᵉ edition of Children’s Voice Month / Scenic Space designed by Charlotte Nessi.


Instead of the Children’s Crusade, preserved by history, the one that left all of Europe in 1212 in the direction of Jerusalem to liberate the “holy city”, David Babin (aka Babx) preferred the one led by the new generation to deliver the planet from all the industrial pollution and burning and bloodshed that previous generations have been powerless to curb. It led in the United States of the attitudes (” never again “) by Emma Gonzalez (16 years old) against weapons and mass murder (Parkland, Orlando and others) and it led in Sweden by Greta Thunberg (” How dare you? “) against global warming inspired him to create The children’s marcha militant requiem and like Faurés: luminous.

Across the entire width of the huge stage in the theater, targeted by two diagonals of red light, a young girl sleeps in front of a bonfire, which the video distracts on a rectangle of strips hanging halfway up. It is, in dialogue with another rectangle of images in the background, the only embellishment of the very sober direction of Mike Guermyet, rather facing the bodies and the particularly silky soft light that caresses them. By giving up the seriousness of realism for the weightlessness of the atmosphere, the whole of a cathedral atmosphere emits a kind of pantheistic mystique.

Composed mainly on poems by the English poet William Blake (misunderstood painter and mysterious poet of the mid-XVIIᵉ and XVIIIᵉ centuries), the score of Babx also evokes the more contemporary American writer James Baldwin (“ If the concept of God is of any use, it is to make us bigger, freer, and more loving. If God can not do it, it’s time to get rid of him “) and even Pasolini immediately Mysteryone of the two flagship versions of The children’s march, multicultural score (with the risk of being inconsistent) and melodic, between gospel, incantation and lullaby. Fifty too short minutes played by five musicians lurking in the backlight: cello, double bass, clarinets, percussion and piano played by the composer himself. Ambient pieces (the intro casts the shadow of Chopin) or just choreographic pieces give birth to eight sung numbers entrusted to the Center of Excellence at the Théâtre Edwige-Feuillère, a structure born in 2019 of ten years of research and work on the child’s voice and the scenic space. A specificity that Babx knows well, as his own childhood has rubbed close to his shoulders, thanks to his own mother, Maîtrise de Radio-France.

The 42 artists (from 8 to 18 years) from the Center of Excellence, dressed and made up in combat gear, practiced during weekly workshops and internships starting in November 2021. Led to an impressive level of musical rigor by Pierre Frantz, all (all the troupe or diffracted depending on the interventions, but also soloists discreetly equipped with microphones) are again amazed (some were already from kl. Children of the British edited last fall with Théophile Alexandre). The general osmosis of a total physical and vocal engagement (even under an astonishing ensemble number on the one breath) never lets go, even in the very physical moments of Cécile Danjou’s demanding and finely tuned choreographies.

Babx wanted no subtitles to illuminate the lyrics – systematically evacuating the French – in a desire not to burden the discourse of a show that was predicted from the start for a hymnbook finale dedicated to energy and zest for life. What Joy is my name terminal whose exquisite soloist mode of intervention Annette by Leos Carax, the melodic and choreographic inspirations at their highest finish captivated the audience for the first session of a series of three, given to sold-out counters in front of an audience … of children.

Justiniana Ensemble turns 40 this year. Full youth, which this commission reaffirms (after André Litolff, Dominique Probst, Philippe Mion, Didier Lockwood, Philippe Servain, Henri Torgue, Serge Houppin, Etienne Roche …) to a composer-yet-not-dead, this children’s march from 2022, a musical counterpart to the words that Ariane Mnouchkine addressed to the adults in 2014: ” Let us tell our children that they arrive on earth almost at the beginning of a story and not at its enchanting end. They must know that they, oh wonder, have a job to do (…) Let’s say it loud and clear. » The children’s march by Théâtre Edwige Feuillère is the musical crusade of the new generation.

Image credit: © Vincent Arbelet

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Vesul. Edwige Feuillère Theater. 2-V-2022. Maurice Babin (Babx): La Marche des enfants, musical creation on poems by William Blake, Pier Paolo Pasolini, James Baldwin. Instructor: Mike Guermyet. Choreography: Cécile Danjou. List: Philippe Mouillet. Costumes: Marine Gressier. Video: Steven Guermyet. With: Emmanuel Reymond, double bass; Jean-Louis Marchand, clarinets; David Neerman, percussion; David Babin (Babx), piano. Children and teenagers in the singing-in-theater workshop in Pôle d’Excellence, musical direction: Pierre Frantz

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