The composition Voice of the Living is told from the point of view of 'the common man', the ordinary man, the soldier who is confronted with the everyday abyssal experience - literally, face to face with the unprecedented, the unforeseen, the unimaginable and all this across the imposing rival camps.
In other words, clearly not thought from a triumphalist perspective.
The four elements in turn refer to specific war situations such as the standstill in trench warfare (earth), flood plains in the Westhoek (water), air attacks (air pressure, poison gas) and fire-fights(fire).
In other words, Wim Mertens investigates the link between the four elements and the four traditional musical instrumental groups, harp, strings, winds and percussion. This link is used as an axiomatic point of departure.
The different parts of the composition Voice of the Living are guided by the singing, by the vocal, by the voice. The voice is responsible for finding the 'right tone' in the continuum of the overall course of the composition. The voice that knows, the voice that oversees, even the unimaginable, the unpredictable; literally the abyssal voice.
This continuum has an ‘open character’, leading to unexpected interruptions, distortions, ruptures, the uneven and to the confrontation with the ‘strange tout court’.
Today, the memory of the experiences of all soldiers and all the victims of war, is the real subject of Mertens’ opus. This memory can only be interpreted and performed by the living today.
The voice of today's living persons as a tribute to all these victims.
The composition Voice of the Living can only become an ultimate tribute to the victims after the performance -à la dernière instance- of the work.
The ultimate tribute for all victims is the musical performance, and this every time again, music that is performed each time anew.
Voice of the Living was commissioned by the Chancellery of the Belgian Prime Minister as part of the commemoration of the Great War (1914 -’18).
The composition was premiered in Sint-Maartens cathedral, Ieper, October 28th, 2014 and offered to the inhabitants of the City of Ieper.
Order it at : https://wimmertens.ffm.to/voiceoftheliving