Research lines
Presse / commentaires
Sound samples
Excerpts from scores
Programme notes
Articles / interviews










"I have known Clara Maïda’s compositions for years and I am impressed by its sound richness, its originality and the expressive intensity of this music."

Helmut LACHENMANN, March 2007

"Clara Maïda’s music is not easy, but it amply rewards close attention. The formal processes are fascinating. They are often using unusual, even "found" material as the basis for transformations which go their own way, leaving in their wake a dialectic between recognizable objects, very faintly discerned, and a formalized "dance of the elements". Finding form is rewarding to the subjectivity of at least this listener for the very reason that it is a discovery that is made unaided by any traditional props, one has the feeling that it needs to be done ex nihilo. That a strong negative can give birth to a new and strong positive is one of the important functions of true art. Clara Maïda’s art is in the vanguard of pioneers who are stretching our culture to its new phase."

Jonathan HARVEY, December 2006

"I consider Clara Maïda as a composer with a composition profile of her own (autonomous, independent) [...] Her works are virtuoso and highly expressive and -- what convinces me particularly --: these works take also aesthetical risks, [...] original works which deserve to be heard."

Helmut LACHENMANN, September 2005

"I have a considerable admiration for your writing! [...] The endeavour to pulverize the form and to re-establish it in a sort of flux is most interesting. Thank you!"

Jonathan HARVEY, July 2004

Clara Maïda, a Marseilles-born composer now based in Paris and Berlin, was present for a performance of her remarkable Psyché-Cité/Transversales, a work for live instruments and electro-acoustic sound derived from field recordings. Maïda’s work is strong, fiercely intelligent, and deeply affecting. She somehow manages to balance very careful consideration with an almost Varèse-like pleasure in the physicality of sound.

The Conversation - United Kingdom (Alistair NOBLE), September 2014

The piece …, dass spinnt… by French composer Clara Maïda conjured a picture of our mental life that was entertainingly witty, veering between obsessed circling repetitions, and sudden movements into new and apparently unconnected territory.

The Telegraph - London, United Kingdom (Ivan HEWITT), November 2013

Practically unknown in Italy […], French composer Clara Maïda represents as a matter of fact one of the most original and interesting voices of western contemporary music, especially in France and Germany (it is not by chance that she lives and works between Paris and Berlin).

This composer developed an artistic view at the crossroads of two ways on which her attention has focused, the musical and the psychological one […]. The CD introduced here testifies to that […], and ideally describes her composition path. The first goal of Clara Maïda’s music is to throw light on the obscure aspects of human psyche (the influence of her studies of psychology is clear) and the CD, which presents pieces from 2003 to 2008, represents an ideal ensemble of this view. The very title of the CD, which means in Latin medical experimentations performed in the past on the bodies of people on the fringe of society (beggars, mentally ill, abandoned persons), wishes to reveal this obscure dimension, this locked, invisible, deeply occulted part of our unconscious or the one of society. […] Built and based on an exacerbated strictness, Clara Maïda’s music represents an extreme attempt at assembling, in a molecular principle of sound, harmonic specks in perpetual transformation. Dark waves hastily cross over sound space under the violent and endless pressure of clusters, while harmonic glissandi endlessly merge in this space (in this respect, Arditti quartet is, as usual, exemplary). Coming to force the ego’s sphere, these eruptions of timbres inevitably induce in the listeners a sensation of odd oppression, pushing them however not to relax their listening, moved by the in-sane search for trouble, for the forbidden, for everything that is "sick". The listening is difficult, but necessary, for who prides him/herself on being provided with ears and a brain.

Cd Classico - Italy (Andrea BEDETTI), October 2013

Fractal fantasies

"Everything is connected to everything" - for composer Clara Maïda, this truism became the breeding ground of her creativity.
The composer of mixed French-Sicilian origin came to composition in a roundabout way, and twists, ramifications and networks are at the heart of her work.

For her, being educated as a psychologist, they can be the labyrinthine of the urban networks as well as the nervous system. The subterranean world of the metro in Paris and the psychic depths both inspired her composition concepts which simulate, for instance, an apocalyptic screenplay prompted by the confrontation with the atomic bunker located underneath The Story of Berlin museum.

In Maïda’s music, the nuclear chain reaction, fission and fusion, scientific processes, are represented by sound masses made of tiny particles, which move, gradually transform, explode and assemble in new "sound molecules", thus inducing an atmosphere of disruption.

Deutschlandfunk (Isabel HERZFELD) - Cologne (Germany), October 2010

The lengthy essay with in corpore vili (Edition RZ) is similarly packed with references to Lacanian psychoanalysis and the violent effects of the symbolic on bodies both human and musical. Since my analyst was a Lacanian, you won't find me making glib remarks about whether such a discourse is or is not relevant to music at this late post-Bush II date. On first hearing, her string writing undeniably evokes Xenakis, but a wildly individual sensibility soon becomes apparent - discontinuous, willful and extremely aggressive. The score excerpts in the booklet, as brief as they are, make it clear that Maïda, who studied with both Lachenmann and Grisey, hasn't made things easy for herself by taking any shortcuts in the notational elaboration of her ideas.

The High Pony Tail - Contemporary music blog - London, June 2010

Maïda attempts to reenvisage the complex, erratic processes that take place in the subconscious through the fraught structures of her music. Mutatis mutandis [...] moves through violently urgent passages of massed, wrenching screeches and frantic plucking, dropping intermittently and unexpectedly into silence. [...] The intensity and expanded palette of Psyché-Cité/Transversales is pared back in the earliest composition here, the short single movement string quartet …who holds the strings… performed by the Arditti Quartet. The sense of turbulent torsion remains here, the strings attacked rather than caressed, and entangled mass of high and low register swoops and scrapes colliding in the space. [...] An invigorating, if unnerving music that pulls no punches as it delves into the hidden recesses of the human mind.

The Wire Magazine - Contemporary music journal (Richard PINNELL) - London, May 2010

The rich matter of a texture which clears away in an ethereal way. French composer Clara Maïda pictures herself as a researcher who wants to simulate flux and structures of psychic unconscious energy with sounds; a self-poetical field of reference which would be the music of her mind. Whether they occupy a large space or they condensate in a solo part, the compositions move to the core, make a din even when the sound level is very low. In all the pieces, one can find again a tormented jubilation, an elastic time, a longing for being, for emerging. In Mutatis mutandis, performed by the excellent Resonanz ensemble, the amplified strings seem to weave autonomous sound filaments, such as an inanimate texture, hanging from the ceiling of a factory. However, an invisible cooperation results from their presumed proximity and suddenly, sounds are torn up one after the other as in a field of forces. This composition process is also present in the other pieces (in Doppelklänger for prepared and amplified piano), in the body itself of an auto-dissolution. Sonorous despair but not without any hope.

Aufabwegen - Magazin - Contemporary music web journal (Till KNIOLA) - Berlin, May 2010

When French composer Clara Maïda was invited by the Berliner Künstlerprogramm (DAAD) in 2007, she made the disturbing discovery of the cold war’s evidences which were cast in concrete. She elaborated a system from a hostile bunker in which human survival seemed hardly conceivable after an atomic catastrophe. Maïda had developed earlier an artistic project linked to the gruesome atmosphere of the Paris subterranean networks and she followed up her research in her series Shel(l)ter, with the macabre atmosphere of an atomic shelter considered as a curiosity in Berlin. The Radialsystem V was a particularly appropriate venue for the premiere of her work on the subterranean labyrinth, for it was in the past the entrance of a liquid waste pumping-station, which spreads out its ramifications.

L'Itinéraire ensemble, conducted by Jean Deroyer, presented Maïda’s sound cosmos. The title Shel(l)ter plays on different meanings of the word "shelter" and "shell" (insertion of the letter "l"), this last word being used with both meanings (the shell and a weapon). Escaping from Maïda’s composition is as hard as from an atomic bunker. The predominant use of percussions and seven massive loudspeakers simply surround the audience and install the listener at the heart of events with the insistent will of making them imagine they need to find shelter in a bunker.

DAAD-Magazin (Horst Willi SCHORS) - Berlin, February 2010

It is not easy to make a name for oneself in the small world of contemporary music. French composer Clara Maïda made one for herself in Berlin during an artistic residency. Since then, she has been shuttling between both countries and will present Shel(l)ter at Ultraschall festival at the end of the month. A musical project which is supported by the quite recent French-German funds for contemporary music.

The idea of Shel(l)ter came to Maïda while she was visiting the atomic bunker located underneath The Story of Berlin museum. She likes to take her inspiration from subterranean worlds and she found matter in this claustrophobic environment.
"I like to refer to sound space. In a bunker, sounds are very muffled when they come through, it is a depopulated space, with a closed geometrical structure". The musical project materialized during an artistic residency in Berlin in 2008, via the framework of the prestigious DAAD programme (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst).

Shel(l)ter is not soft and joyful music. In four acts, this contemporary piece makes use of the flux and echoes of a subterranean pre- or post-atomic world. A musical experience for the audience to find themselves "in a total sound structure, a sort of acoustic envelope, whose membranes would be put into vibration and enclose the listener on the sensorial level in the same way as the shelter encloses people on the material level", the composer explains.

Paris-Berlin - The French-German News Magazine  (Stéphanie PICHON) - Berlin, January 2010

Ipso Facto by Clara MAÏDA, French composer, tries to connect the psychic and physical experience with the urban world, by abolishing the opposition between objects and living creatures. Originally, this piece is composed to be played on seven independent audio channels.

Arte Sonoro - Portal for the broadcasting of sound art - Mexico City, September 2009

An enigmatic Shel(l)ter - später... ( ) ...Winter, for clarinet, bassoon, cello, three percussionists and electronics by French-Berliner composer Clara Maïda.

Beside its quasi-homonymic assonance with a famous noisy hit by the Beatles, this piece, to my mind, will deserve all our attention. The composer, visibly attracted a lot of attention from Jonathan Harvey and her website visibly teems with sound samples in which music seems so fragmented and rearticulated as a deoxyribonucleic acid molecule (a recurrent visual of the site). "From ever more numerous diffractions to more and more fragmented and migratory objects, the musical fabric is pulverized in floating and residual particles. [...] The piece attempts to redraw the process which occurs at the heart of matter and the laws which govern it.", as the programme note of her piece Kinê-Diffr(a)ct explains.

Accents Online - Ensemble Intercontemporain webmag - Paris, May 2009

Portrait Clara Maïda

Clara Maïda first studied psychology. But her wish to compose became overwhelming. Today, she has won an international recognition and she composes for conventional ensembles as well as for electronics. She often uses material she has found by chance as a basis for her compositions in order to create new forms. Thanks to her sound richness and her originality, one can find in her music extraordinary expressivity.

Swiss Radio DRS 2 - Basel, August 2008

Fluctuatio (in)animi, by French composer Clara Maïda, for flute, string quartet and electronics, was one of this year’s submitted compositions in which acoustic instruments and electronics were merging. We believe that this field still offers a big potential, and Fluctuatio (in)animi should be used as an outstanding model for next years' presentations.

Prix Ars Electronica - Linz, Austria, April 2007

Iniji by young composer Clara Maïda, a musical piece of half an hour or so, is based on a text by Henri Michaux. This creation uses onomatopoeias as a sound material while adding the work on space, sounds, images, lights, thus inventing a poetic environment.

Taktik, Marseille, May 1999

Il libro del sogno by Clara Maïda, ultimate discovery of the evening, displayed a very tense instrumental writing, with sharp ridges. A work which would have deserved to be placed at the beginning of the evening.

La Provence, Marseille, November 1997

Musiques 97

At La Criée, a premiered work Io, by Clara Maïda, State and GMEM commission, called for a piano, played by Nathalie Négro, a cello, Bernard Amrani, flutes, played by David Dreyfus, clarinets, by Magali Rubio, and then, for electro-acoustics.
The instrumental conversation, diversified, complementary, with no whimsical effects, gradually imposed its unity, its logic, and especially a poetic permeation closely related with the electro-acoustic part.
Quiet at first, playing with the timbres, some brief melodic fragments, mixed with a score of sounds sometimes evoking those of a giant glass harmonica, and through which comes several times a female voice, distant and spectral, the works then amplifies and gets more feverish, more clashing.
Before ending, all the instruments become silent, in slow and obsessional bells sounding like a toll up to the conclusive perdandosi.
Let’s say it again, a very poetic general impression, in which lyricism played its part, and which will justify the reception made to the composition, to her author and to the performers.

Le Méridional, Marseille, April 1997

From a stage to another one

Io by Clara Maïda explodes in echoes, mirrors in which the senses, the sounds, the colours echo one another in a Baudelairean way.

L’Eveil, Marseille, April 1997

Io ("I", in Italian) is a GMEM commission, for instrumental ensemble and electro-acoustics, through which Clara Maïda pursues her interests in the place of the composer-creator in the work and questions the unconscious as a form of production of meaning. As the titles indicates, Maïda made her "music self-portrait".

Al Dante, Marseille, April 1997