Skip to main content

Commission to Francesca Verunelli

Ensemble C Barré, Marseille (FR)

What remains of a song when the voice disappears? What is the essence of singing and how can we perceive it when no one is singing? Francesca Verunelli is composing a new work for the Ensemble C Barré entitled Five Songs (Kafka's Sirens). The title alludes to Franz Kafka's story The Silence of the Sirens, although this is not a literal reference. In fact, Kafka's story is not so much about telling an alternative story (who would say that the mermaids did not sing) as it is about suggesting a paradox, a doubt about perspective. This – a possible paradoxical perspective – is what the title alludes to. Verunelli's composition is a form articulated in five instrumental songs (Lieder) in which the poetic question of the absence of the voice emerges. This presence of song in the absence of a singing voice was the driving force behind Verunelli's instrumental sound exploration, a kind of aporia that, like Kafka's paradox, aimed to push the boundaries of the instrumental visible.

What is the voice without the singing? The voice in its pure presence, without its orphic function? The voice as an instrumental body and as a body in itself, the voice as a carnal presence that precedes and transcends speech? The voice is a kind of apotropaic object that we know without understanding. To explore these questions, Francesca Verunelli and the Ensemble C Barré integrated the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart on this musical journey that takes place between these two extremes. The extreme absence and the extreme presence, the singing without voice and the voice without singing. Between these two focal points of paradox perhaps lies what tempts Odysseus to approach the Sirens.

The project Five Songs (Kafka's Sirens) will be performed in a one-hour musical performance with six voices, eleven instrumentalists and electronics by Ensemble C Barré and the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart. The composition commission to Francesca Verunelli and the performance of Five Songs (Kafka's Sirens) is supported by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.

Further information:


October 27, 2023
Biennale Musica Venice

March 26, 2024
Renaissance théâtre, Lyon

March 29, 2024
IRCAM, Paris

May 4, 2024

Wittener Tage für Neue Kammermusik

May12, 2024
GMEM, Marseille