René Farabet: In Memoriam

RENÉ FARABET in Paris – (Photo credit: Terho Aalto)

Our beloved friend, René Farabet, died in Paris on Tuesday afternoon with the love of his life, Kaye Mortley, at his side. He had been gravely ill for a long time and had borne the trials it brought him with grace, courage and determination.

As the first French delegate at the inaugural International Features Conference in 1975, he was one of a small band of people who came together from all over Europe and further afield to make common cause for our genre and he stayed in our midst for ever. You will remember him: tall, elegant, the shock of white hair, the expressive, mobile face. He would move silently around the room, saying very little but always listening most intently and, until recently, always there.

René was our hero. He was a man of great brilliance: a radiant intellect, a philosopher, a sublime feature maker who, through his decades of work in L’Atelier de Création Radiophonique at France Culture, influenced an entire generation of international feature makers and, with his magic, bent how we apprehend and understand sound. His work and legacy is, quite simply, the gold standard of what we do.

But this is not an obituary. René was our friend who we loved and, with his death, our tectonic plates have shifted. Here, words fail. We grieve his absence and our hearts go out to Kaye with all our sympathy at this most difficult time.

May his memory be bound forever in the knot of life.


thoughts (via Facebook) on “René Farabet: In Memoriam”

Marc Jacquin

July 20, 2011 · ·

translation by Edwin Brys

His smile, his gift to listen to others, his own , warm voice, his sense of humor, his sense of precision and his sharp spirit, we will miss all that.

But, the Atelier de Création Radiophonique ( ACR) that illuminated the programmation of France Culture during more than 30 years and had been conducted by René as a most subtle animator, will radiate for still a very long time. High above the daily gossip of the medium radio.

Born in the turmoil of May 68, l’Atelier de Création was the laboratory of a series of programmes , far more free and audacious than what had been produced so far by public radio.
Here were developped the most surprising radio forms : the creative radio documentary, the field recordings, the acoustical art ( ars acustica). Reaching a level of an audio art, focusing on the real world and real people, while designing and sculptering the power of sound.

By chance , Radio Grenouille (Marseille) recorded a conference of René Farabet in 2008.

Here is the link: http://www.radiogrenouille.com/audiotheque/le-theatre-des-radio-operations-rene-farabet/

In his excellent radio review , Syntone, Etienne Noiseaux reports : “ René Farabet talks about radio and sounds in a unique way. His language , rich in imagery and poetry, is probably the only way we can render the complexity of the radiophonic expression”.

Thanks to Marc Jacquin (Phonurgia Nova) and to Mehdi Ahoudig (Arte Radio) for sharing .


https://www.franceculture.fr/creation-sonore/la-mort-de-rene-farabet-inoubliable-figure-des-ateliers-de-creation-radiophonique


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11 thoughts on “René Farabet: In Memoriam

  1. Dear Friends,

    Please join us to drop a few lines here remembering René. Thoughts, quotes, scenes, souvenirs, his voice, his tone, his sublime radio songs. Or address a word of sympathy to his beloved Kaye Mortley.

  2. Ecoutez ce documentaire radiophonique de mon ami René Farabet qui vient de décéder

    “Une étoile nommée Absinthe”
    Tchernobyl signifie “absinthe” en russe. En 2000, René Farabet signait cette création radiophonique de 90 minutes articulée autour de la déflagration de la catastrophe nucléaire en Ukraine, au coeur de l’oeuvre de Svetlana Alexievitch, “La Supplication”.
    FRANCECULTURE.FR

    Listen to this radio documentaire ” A star called Absinth” of my friend René Farabet. In Russian language Tchernobyl means absinth. Referring to the work of Svetlana Alexievitch, ” The Supplication”

    https://www.franceculture.fr/creation-sonore/une-etoile-nommee-absinthe

  3. thanks to the messages on fb from Laurent Marceau, Laura Romero, Faidos Sonore, Robin Ravlich, Nik Nolte, Camilla Döge, Silvia Lahner, Colin Black, Graziella Martinez Matias, Carina Pesh, Beau Bruit, Iva Lovrec Stefanovoc, Marc Jacquin, and so many others.

  4. Marc Jacquin : Director Phonurgia Nova Radio Festival, Arles, France

    FAIRE DU SON UN SPECTACLE VIVANT (see English translation below)

    René Farabet vient de nous quitter. Son sourire, son écoute, sa voix, son humour, sa précision et son intelligence vont nous manquer. Mais l’ACR qui illumina les programmes de France Culture durant plus de 30 ans, et dont il fut le subtil animateur, rayonnera longtemps encore, bien au-dessus du babil des ondes. Né dans la foulée de mai 68, cet Atelier de création fut le laboratoire des émissions les plus libres et les plus audacieuses jamais diffusées sur les ondes publiques. La radio a accouché là de ses formes les plus surprenantes : les documentaires de création, le field recording, l’art acoustique. Celles qui l’élevèrent au rang d’un art sonore, mettant en avant l’écoute du réel et des gens, la plasticité du sonore et la taille des sons. Par chance, Radio Grenouille a mis en ligne l’une de ses conférences donnée à Montevidéo à Marseille en 2008 :

    http://www.radiogrenouille.com/audiotheque/le-theatre-des-radio-operations-rene-farabet/

    A propos de cette intervention, Etienne Noiseau (Syntone) notait très justement : « René Farabet possède une manière unique de parler du son et de la radio. Il manie une langue imagée, poétique, qui est peut-être la seule valide pour parvenir à représenter par le langage la complexité des phénomènes en jeu dans l’expression radiophonique. »

    His smile, his gift to listen to others, his own , warm voice, his sense of humor, his sense of precision and his sharp spirit, we will miss all that.

    But, the Atelier de Création Radiophonique ( ACR) that illuminated the programmation of France Culture during more than 30 years and had been conducted by René as a most subtle animator, will radiate for still a very long time. High above the daily gossip of the medium radio.

    Born in the turmoil of May 68, l’Atelier de Création was the laboratory of a series of programmes , far more free and audacious than what had been produced so far by public radio.
    Here were developped the most surprising radio forms : the creative radio documentary, the field recordings, the acoustical art ( ars acustica). Reaching a level of an audio art, focusing on the real world and real people, while designing and sculptering the power of sound.

    By chance , Radio Grenouille (Marseille) recorded a conference of René Farabet in 2008.

    Here is the link : http://www.radiogrenouille.com/audiotheque/le-theatre-des-radio-operations-rene-farabet/
     
    In his excellent radio review , Syntone, Etienne Noiseaux reports : “ René Farabet talks about radio and sounds in a unique way. His language , rich in imagery and poetry, is probably the only way we can render the complexity of the radiophonic expression”.

    Thanks to Marc Jacquin (Phonurgia Nova) and to Mehdi Ahoudig (Arte Radio) for sharing . Posted by Edwin Brys

  5. La mort de René Farabet, inoubliable figure des Ateliers de Création Radiophonique

    Il fut comédien, enseignant, il fut surtout le principal producteur des Ateliers de Création Radiophonique sur France Culture de 1969 à 2001… René Farabet est mort ce 20 juin 2017.

    René Farabet en 1983
    René Farabet en 1983• Crédits : R. Picard – Radio France

    Acteur majeur de la radio en France, aux commandes pendant plus de 30 ans des ACR fondés par Alain Trutat et Jean Tardieu, René Farabet est mort ce 20 juin à l’âge de 83 ans. Il a profondément influencé la création radiophonique, confiant à la fiction comme au documentaire, et souvent de manière hybride, le pouvoir d’entraîner l’auditeur dans des mondes inouïs profondément poétiques.

    Qu’on l’ait croisé comme metteur en scène (“Autour de Monsieur Teste” de Paul Valéry au Festival de Montpellier 1985, “La Vie mode d’emploi” de Georges Pérec au Festival d’Avignon 1988), comme auteur de documentaires dont les œuvres ont été primées (Prix Italia, Futura, Ondas, Europa, Gilson), comme écrivain (” L’acteur et la parole”, “Bref éloge du coup de tonnerre et du bruit d’ailes”, “Théâtre d’ondes, théâtre d’ombres”, “Gauguin, l’ultime question”), c’est toujours la même rigueur qui le conduisait.

    Il a reçu le Grand Prix de la SCAM en 1993 pour l’ensemble de son œuvre dont : “Comment vous la trouvez ma salade ?”, “L’ai-je bien descendu, l’avons-nous bien monté ?”, “Cordoba Gongora”, “Paroles du dedans”, “Les Bons samaritains”, “Voyage en terre Same”, “Une étoile nommée absinthe”, etc.

    Comme sculpté par Giacometti, il marchait l’oreille tendue, souriait de façon désarmante, livrait avec préciosité et générosité ses réflexions sur un monde sonore qui lui était essentiel : “La radio pour ceux qui acceptent simplement que ralentisse en eux le flux journalier, qui acceptent de partir en voyage, et qui laissent un peu de nuit entrer dans leurs yeux…” (extrait de “Théâtre d’ondes, théâtre d’ombre”, éditions Champ Social).

    En guise d’hommage, nous vous proposons de réentendre quelques-unes de ses émissions les plus mémorables :

    Comment vous la trouvez ma salade ?

    Un reportage diffusé en 1971 sur différentes formes de commerces (marché, grand magasin, galerie marchande) avec interviews de grévistes et de responsables du BHV et, en ponctuation, des publicités pour des armes lourdes, des bruits d’armes.

    Écouter
    Écouter “Comment vous la trouvez ma salade” de René Farabet (Prix Italia 1971)”Comment vous la trouvez ma salade” de René Farabet (Prix Italia 1971)
    A ECOUTER “L’ai-je bien descendu, l’avons-nous bien monté ?”, ACR sur le music-hall de René Farabet diffusé le 1er janvier 1978 et rediffusé dans Les Nuits de France Culture

    Paroles du dedans : Centrale de St Maur

    Première diffusion dimanche 13/12/1992 : Dans ce programme se font entendre les voix nues de douze détenus de la prison centrale de Saint-Maur s’exerçant aux métiers du son (et auteurs eux-mêmes de bandes sonores) dans le “Studio du Temps” installé par Nicolas Frize à l’intérieur de l’espace pénitentiaire. Au cœur de la forteresse carcérale, il est impossible d’oublier la situation de l’enfermement et de l’exclusion. Mais, comme le rêve – et la fiction – le son a la possibilité de traverser les murs et, grâce à lui, la dialectique du dedans/dehors est enrichie considérablement. L’écoute (et l’enregistrement) ici, ne peuvent être qu’une approche intense de l’autre, c’est-à-dire une ouverture momentanée des frontières tracées par notre société (note du producteur).

    Écouter
    Écouter “Paroles du dedans : Centrale de St Maur”, de René Farabet (Prix Futura 1993)”Paroles du dedans : Centrale de St Maur”, de René Farabet (Prix Futura 1993)
    A ECOUTER “Autoportrait d’un nouveau musée : Orsay”, documentaire signé René Farabet en 1986 et rediffusé dans Les Nuits de France Culture

    Irène Omélianenko, Antoine Lachand

  6. Il existe des hommes tellement formidables qu’on se dit que c’est une chance immense de les avoir rencontrés, enregistrés, d’avoir pu partager des moments fondateurs et précieux avec eux. Ces hommes-là ne nous quitte jamais. Ils nous portent sur les chemins de la création.

  7. traduction du texte de Sylvie de Roeck : Sometimes we have the chance to meet people so strong, that we realize what a chance to has t have met them. To have recorded their voice, to have shared such a basic and precious moments for our own choices in life. Those people, the never leave us. They carry us on on our tracks of creation.
    (traduction E.Brys)

  8. He pulled the cobwebs from my ears. Cleanly, gracefully, insightfully. On many occasions, but here was one: “Listen to the silence at the centre of every sound. Even if the sound is silence, listen to the silence at the centre of silence”. I listen to him now.

  9. Sincere condolences to Kaye. I remember when Rene and she gave a workshop to the drama and features department in the ABC back in the early 1990s. It had a big impact on me as a young feature maker. Rene spoke about a physical and imaginative way of working with sound and text, a performative style, that took the listener on a fictional journey through a world of chaotic facts. He taught me that “in the beginning was the ear.” Farewell Rene, your work lives on after you.

  10. Edwin Brys’ speech at the reception for René, Paris, July 1st 2017

    René Farabet : Chaussures de Grand Luxe

    When René Farabet appeared, some decades ago, on the international scene of what we could call author’s radio, I guess he introduced the notion of élégance.
    René was a most charming man, some even say, he was a seducer. He was handsome, un bel homme, with a royal head of hair, a beautiful warm, soft voice, hesitantly searching for the best expression.
    He was also the best dressed man of the bunch. Harris tweed, that solid, Scottish, somewhat melancholic and autumnal fabric, gave him the aura of a timeless class.

    Beyond his physical charm, René seduced us , of course, still more by his ideas, his explorations of the sense and effects of sound and space, and by the surprising high expressiveness of his radio works.

    Peter Leonard Braun, the founding father of the International Feature Conference, used to call this annual gathering of radio people “a shoemakers conference.” An artisanal atelier where you learn to manufacture the most solid , supple and elegant shoe possible, made of the most noble leather, with perfectly executed seams.

    René impressed us by his art of making that kind of master shoes, by the precision of his techniques of structuring a story, by the refinement of the osmosis of different sound layers and by the efficient aesthetic and semantic use of sound as such.

    René, the silent model

    René was also an actor, used to performing on stage. But strangely enough, in our international meetings and during debates and discussions he often was rather silent. It has to be said that English was the official language.

    Often René seemed to be in his bubble, his head in the clouds. To great dispair sometimes of the discussion leader or to some audacious person like Leo Braun who would exclaim : “René, we haven’t heard you yet! What do you think of this programme? “.
    Then René, startled, would fall to earth; I guess he hadn’t even heard the question.

    Poor René started to stammer something very vague (“I think..perhaps we could consider…eventually… on the one hand that…) . René gaining time.
    But then appeared the Maestro René. Unfolding a theory, a case, a metaphor, most interesting, most orginal, of a magical logic, and – once on cruising speed – his reply was much more interesting than the question. Had even nothing to do with the question!
    I guess one should often have the head in the clouds in order to have the feet on the ground.

    René and the world around him

    Apart from René, the man of elegance and aristocracy and ultimate aesthete of the medium of radio, there is René Farabet, the eyewitness of what boils in society. René was very concerned about the social turbulences and turmoils and the daily effects on the citizens. Mostly on the most fragiles ones : the homeless, prisoners, immigrants, people on the run, victims of Tchernobyl, the poorest inhabitants of our metropoles. His radiophonic stylistics married a profound social and political concern. René gave a voice to those who were never asked for their own life stories.

    René and the table around him

    René often looked serious, even grave. Getting a bit older, beautiful white , thick hair forest, reading spectacles on the nose. But, once at a dining table, in a small group , and with a fair wine and honest food, René could become the most contented guest of the table. His eyes could be sparkling like a Dom Pérignon and his smile could make the Mount Everest melt!

    René, the joker

    IFC , Warsaw 1998. René is sitting next to his personal interpreter, paid by the EBU. René has difficulties to speak and understand English. We hear the constant mumbling at a corner of the big assembly table.

    One evening we are all sitting in the bar in the basement of the venue. Suddenly we are asked to be silent and to listen carefully. Polski Radio is transmitting a programme about our own IFC. Several colleagues are interviewed. All of a sudden, there is one voice we recognize among all. Not really with an Oxford accent, but in the language of Shakespeare anway. Clear and understandable. Speaking was our one and only… René Farabet! Quel farceur! At the next IFC in 1999 someone lost a job at the EBU.

    René in the air

    Last image of René I keep in mind.
    There must be a link with the Atelier de Création Radiophonique at France Culture somewhere. I don’t know which is the connection, but the image is pertinent and permanent.

    René looking down to us from high in the sky, leaning on the edge of a basket of a Montgolfière, head of hair waving in a strong wind, happy, in the midst of thunderclaps and the beating of wings.

    Edwin Brys

    – reference to René’s essays on radio, published under the title “ Bref éloge du coup de tonnerre et de bruits d’ailes”.

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