By the rivers of Babylon

From captivity to freedom : musics of exiles and peace

« Who could encourage our sorrowful hearts to sing laud on a foreign land ? » (Psalm 137)

Paradox of artistical expression, the state of exile and captivity gave birth to the most poignant musics alongside human history. The Psalm from king David By the rivers of Babylon incarnates more than any else this nostalgy for the faraway land, and the desired freedom. More than three millenials stand between the writing of the poem by the musician king and its interpretation by the groups of afro-american music, which have thus payed homage to their ancestors’ memory, subjected to slavery in a land of exile.

The same Psalm also crossed the old continent over the centuries, set in music by and for men and women who were forced to leave their country of origine, or to renounce their own religious’ beliefs. The text of the Psalm enters the everlasting cycle of war and peace, captivity and freedom, distress and glee… as relates with fervor the sacred music from the rebirthing baroque. This new style will happily find in this contrast a reason to be to its affects’ expression, from the darkest affliction opening to a luminous jubilation.


To know more

This program will offer to hear his/its texts sung in french, english (as an encore : Rivers of Babylon – Boney M), german, latin and Hebrew. The concert could as well include a contemporary work by Thierry Machuel on a text written in arabic by poet Mahmoud Darwich.



Ensemble La Fenice soprano soloist, 5 instrumentalists (cornetti/recorders*, violin, cello, organ/harpsichord*, theorbo/baroque guitar*) * plainchant (male voices)

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