Sophie Agnel & Lionel Palun

NOW ∞ website


Hexagone Scène Nationale de Meylan, F, 6 mars
Festival Bruisme, SMAC Jazz à Poitiers, F, 26 juin
Festival Musique Action, CCAM Scène Nationale de Vandoeuvre, Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, F, 14 mai
Jazz Fabric #31, Festival Extention, Auditorium du Carreau du Temple, Paris, F, 12 mai
Espace Mendès France, Poitiers, F, 12 mai
La Source - Biennale Art-Science Rencontres i, Fontaine (38), F, 9 octobre


Images and sounds are like people who meet en route and can never again be parted.
Robert Bresson , “Notes sur le Cinématographe”, Paris, Gallimard, 1975.

Now ∞ is a work of research on the direct dialogue between music and images, in this case between video and an extended piano: how the music reinvents the video and how images can create sounds.

Having met at various festivals, pianist Sophie Agnel and electro-video maker Lionel Palun became interested in each other’s work and started to collaborate in 2015 to create a piano-video duo.

Sophie Agnel, virtuoso of prepared piano, had practised improvisation as a soloist, in duos and in various formations for a long time. She regularly works in theatre and dance, and has written several shows for young audiences. She was also the instigator of the invention of a new instrument, the cordophone. Lionel Palun explores the singular practice of playing with images, blending analogue mixing with lighting and camera shots with an original visual digital lute (for this he developed his own software programme). He is also interested in sound projection of images with a musical treatment from a video signal.

Today Sophie Agnel and Lionel Palun have pooled their expertise to present an extended piano concert with images. The idea is to use the piano as a sound box for a video signal and to make electronic bows for the piano strings controlled by images. Using the magic of video feedback, the audience can watch Sophie Agnel playing the inside of the piano on a giant screen. From these tools emanates a rich, organic and sensitive dialogue between two worlds that rarely encounter one another.

During the first creative residency at the Hexagone Scène Nationale of Meylan, Sophie Agnel and Lionel Palun invited the visual artist Christophe Cardoen to design the lighting.

The job of designing electronic bows for piano was entrusted to the École Centrale, Lille.

The show also exists in two other formats, an installation and a performance for young audiences.

Production :
l'Hexagone Scène Nationale Arts Sciences - Meylan,
le CCAM Scène Nationale de Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy,
l'Association 720 Digital
Conseil Régional Rhône-Alpes-Auvergne,
la SMAC Jazz à Poitiers,
le Lieu Multiple à Poitiers,
la Source à Fontaine,
l’École Centrale de Lille

Sophie Agnel
Born in Paris, 1964

Having acquired a solid classical training, for a time Sophie Agnel was interested in modern jazz. Then, at the turn of the 90s, fascinated by certain great keyboard heretics such as Keith Tippett, Fred Van Hove and Christine Wodrascka, she gradually entered the constantly moving and deliciously uncertain world of free improvisation.

Reworking through the figures of the musical improvisation techniques of prepared piano devised by John Cage in the field of contemporary music, Sophie Agnel went on to apply herself to “introducing the prosaism of the contemporary world into the very soul of refined Western music” transforming her instrument into a sort of “extensive prep piano” or “extended piano” thus laying down the foundations of a personal universe, radically materialistic, in turn lyrical, abstract and sensual.

From the demanding exercise as a solo artist to multiple in situ encounters with some of the greatest masters of contemporary improvisation (Michel Doneda, Daunik Lazro, Olivier Benoît, Catherine Jauniaux, ErikM, Roger Turner, Phil Minton, John Butcher), gradually the pianist ventured beyond the frontier zones to a place where genres are ill defined.

This is how she came to create several shows suitable for all audiences (“Le Piano – Marteau” featuring sonic space by the subtle use of mirrors), a collaboration with the choreographer Josef Nadj (“Etc. Etc.”) and the theatre adaptation of “Testimony” by Charles Reznikov, directed by Henri Jules Julien.

Attracted to tangible and electro-acoustic music, as well as the spatial phenomena of sound, Sophie Agnel has also recently designed, with the assistance of the Centre National de la Création Musicale, Albi – Tarn (GMEA) and the stringed instrument maker Laurent Paquier, an experimental electro-acoustic instrument, the “nOpianO /cordophone”, which has opened up new horizons of sound.

In 2014, she joined the Orchestre National de Jazz (ONJ) under the direction of Olivier Benoît.

Watch a piano solo on the France Musique programme, “À l’Improviste” presented by Anne Montaron:

Read this article written by Cathy Heyden in April 2012 in the magazine Mouvement.

Reps: Sophie Agnel-Olivier Benoit, label Cesare ,2014
Météo: Sophie Agnel - John Edwards - Steve Noble, Clean Feed Records, 2013
Spiral Inputs: Sophie Agnel-Bertrand Gauguet-Andrea Neumann. Another Timber 2010
Capsizing Moments: Sophie Agnel.Emanem, 2009
Rip-stop: Sophie Agnel & Olivier Benoît, In Situ, 2003
Rouge Gris Bruit: Sophie Agnel, Lionel Marchetti - Jérôme Noetinger, Potlatch, 2001
Solo: Sophie Agnel, Vandoeuvre, 2000