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Francesca Verunelli

The Famous Box Trick (2015) for bass flute and electronics 

density 2036: part iii


The Famous Box Trick (Illusions Fantasmagoriques) is a 1898 French short black-and-white silent trick film, directed by Georges Méliès. In the words of writer Michael Brooke, the film "hearkens back to stage magic.”

Program Notes

The Famous Box Trick (2015) for bass flute and electronics
density 2036: part iii

I found fascinating the hybrid texture of the “trick” which allows the spectator to position himself in between the physical magic of the stage and the virtual “magic” of cinema - the corporeal vs. the incorporeal - biological time vs. the machine time.

The spectator is suspended in between the belief in the trick and the conscious awareness of it. This is not the case in modern cinema, where the spectator is cut out from the “illusion” and can only believe in it from the “outside.”

The flute inhabits corporeal sounds, including the family of vocal sounds obtained by the complex interactions of the voice with the instrument. These are, paradoxically, made to sound “fake” by a sound-world of completely synthetic sounds realized by electronics means. 

The result, like Meliès’ absurdist irony, is the reciprocal estrangement of the ontological nature of each sound-world.

— Francesca Verunelli


Francesca Verunelli studied composition with Rosario Mirigliano and piano with Stefano Fiuzzi at the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini in Florence where she earned both diplomas summa cum laude.  She concluded her studies in composition at the Accademia Santa Cecilia with Azio Corghi. After moving to Paris, she attended IRCAM’s training in Composition and Computer Music.  She holds a Ph.D. from PSL University (Paris Sciences & Lettres).


She was awarded the 41st “Premio Abbiati della critica” in May 2022, received the prestigious Ernst von Siemens Composer’s Prize in 2020, and in 2010 at La Biennale di Venezia, she was awarded the “Leone d’argento” prize. 


She has been composer-in-research at Ircam and GMEM and resident artist of the Casa de Velasquez (Madrid, 2015/2016) and the Villa Médicis (Académie de France à Rome, 2016/17). During the summer of 2021, she was composer-in-residence at Festival des Quators du Luberon, where the Béla Quartet premiered Unfolding II.


She has received commissions from important musical institutions and festivals such as IRCAM, NeueVocalsolisten Stuttgart, La Biennale di Venezia, Orchestre Philarmonique de Radio France, Milano Musica, Accentus Chamber Choir, Lucerne Symphonic Orchestra, Court-Circuit ensemble, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, GMEM de Marseille, CIRM de Nice, the French State, the FACE Foundation, Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik, International Contemporary Ensemble, Donaueschinger MusikTage, ECLAT, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Klangforum Wien, Musica Viva – Munich, Acht Brücken Köln.


Upcoming premieres also include Accord, chord and tune for accordion and orchestra, written for Krassimir Sterev and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (2022/23), Tune and retune II for SWR Orchestra (Donaueschinger Musiktage 2023), and Songs and Voices, an hour-long piece for voices and ensemble co-commissioned by Neue Vocalsolisten, GMEM, Ircam and Venice Biennale to be premiered in October 2023.

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