Philippe Mion was born in Tournan-en-Brie in 1956. A choir member from the age of 8 to 25, he sang notably with Les Petits Chanteurs de Vincennesand in the Chorale universitaire Paris-Sorbonne. At the age of 12, he began studying the classical guitar, subsequently gaining a diploma at the Vincennes Conservatory and the Conservatory of the 12th arrondissement of Paris. After a year of preparatory classes in higher mathematics, he opted definitively for music. He studied at the Paris-Sorbonne University (1974-1978) and at the Paris Conservatory, notably in the classes of Pierre Schaeffer and Guy Reibel. He won the composition prize in 1977 and became assistant to Pierre Schaeffer and Guy Reibel at the Conservatory (1977-1978). From then on he devoted himself to electroacoustic concerts, composition and pedagogy.
Throughout his various courses and artistic projects he has followed a process of reflection together with an experimental practice focussed on invention, a philosophy of the ‘direction of sound’ over an ensemble of loudspeakers. From 1979 to 1989 he was in charge of the music controls for the Cycle Acousmatique GRM (Groupe de Recherches Musicales)-Radio France, acquiring experience that was both technical and musical. A practitioner of the ‘interpretation’ of acousmatic music over a system of loudspeakers, he has appeared in various contexts in France and abroad, in particular in concerts of the GRM, Grame, GMVL (Groupe Musiques Vivantes Lyon) and at the Futura festival.
Mion has composed acousmatic works (Statue, 1985; L’échappée, 2012), mixed works (Dix chansons précieuses for soprano and tape, 1989; Voix d'ailes for string trio and tape, 1994), instrumental and vocal works (Oiseaux cent façons for instrumental ensemble and chorus, 1985) as well as two operas and several works of music theatre (Léone, 1993).
Léone for six singers and electronics is the result of a collaboration with the writer Philippe Minyana. As in all his mixed works, Philippe Mion seeks to conserve the magic of the acoustic reality, devising the electroacoustic parts as very dry, without reverberation or artificial spacing, in order to give them a credible acoustic presence that can function with that of the voice. The electronic part consists of phrases, moments of silence, of tensions and relaxation, of solo and polyphonic elements. It can play with the voices just like a music score and it offers, through its strangeness and the naturalism of the material, a powerful form of expressionism, a permanent poetisation.
Philippe Mion enjoys the immodesty of the vocal act, especially on stage. The electroacoustic sound elements to which he is spontaneously attracted often have an organic, ‘gestural’ aspect. He very infrequently uses ‘square’ or ‘mechanistic’ sounds, preferring curved forms, volutes, rounded movements, fragile, slightly gritty tone-colours.
Mion has also been inspired by the writer Henri Michaux: his oratorio L’image éconduite (1984) was based on Apparition-Disparitions, the story of an inner journey. Similarly, the oratorio Je joue de la fumée (2013) inspired by the author’s Premières impressions.
Some works, such as Métamorphose d’Orphée and Confidences (1995) bend the ear towards minimalism and concentrated articulations. Others respond to the composer’s need to develop work on the scraping of bows. Statue (1985), for example, is an exploration of sound that is fragile, rather gritty, taken almost exclusively from the scraping of bows on various bodies (marimbas, vibraphone, plastic or cardboard boxes, a tin dish, a pan, timpani, glass, salad bowl, bell, wood block…).
Philippe Mion’s works, for the concert hall, ballet, the stage, and - to a less degree - for the cinema, reflect the importance he attributes in composition to the perceptive point of view. He does not think of musical abstraction without nourishing it with emotions.
In residence at the Villa Medici, Académie de France in Rome, from 1989 to 1991, Mion received the Stéphane Chapelier-Clergue-Gabriel-Marie Prize from the Sacem in 1996, as well as the Sacem Prize for a pedagogical score in 2002.
With regard to pedagogy, he was in charge of GRM-Ville of Paris initiation workshop for electroacoustic composition from 1979 to 1989. As a regular producer for Radio France (1979-1982) with Guy Reibel, he took part in twice-weekly broadcasts for teachers, ‘Éveil à la musique’ and ‘Concerts-lecture’. He also taught musical appreciation to children, amateurs, young professional musicians, teachers, teaching advisors and music training officers for various associations and institutions (schools, conservatories, ‘écoles normales’, IUFM, CFMI, CeFeDeM, etc.). He has been active notably at the CFMI of Orsay-Université Paris Sud and has on occasion collaborated in the activities of the Muse en Circuit.
The holder of a teaching certificate (CA) for electroacoustics, he teaches electroacoustic composition at the Vitry-sur-Seine Conservatory and music analysis at the Royal Mons Conservatory, in Belgium.