Tunnel azur

Robert Normandeau

Tunnel azur

  • Robert Normandeau
  • Year of composition: 2016, 18
  • Duration: 12:39
  • Instrumentation: multichannel fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: STM, OSM
  • ISWC: T9204828115

To Jean-François Denis, for his friendship

Tunnel azur is in fact a cinema for the ear. There is a story involving the subway as a principal character, with arrivals and departures, crowds, the noise of workers and musicians. Then there is also suspense, with very low sounds… And finally, there is the music to accompany this cinema for the ear.

The subway is first and foremost a tunnel, that empty and mysterious space at whose entrance we see hardly a thing. It is the underground, the crypt and the cave. And at night, there are draisines, metallic animals that repair everything while singing. And finally, there are the new Azur trains, which will take over from the first trains, fifty years later. Their name is particularly significant, since we usually associate azure blue with that of the sky, while the subway lives in perpetual night. So we have daytime in the middle of the night here. In this work, there are also sounds of the octobass, newly acquired by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM), and of which this piece makes a first use.

Finally, a memory, that of the first concert where I saw Kent Nagano conducting. It was before he moved to Montréal, and he was conducting Mahler’s 9th, one of my favourite works. There are echoes of it here.

[English translation: Terri Hron, i-17]

Tunnel azur was realized in 2016 at the composer’s studio in Montréal (Québec) and premiered in a stereo version on August 11, 2016 during an outdoor concert entitled L’orgue fait son cinéma… sous les étoiles (The organ makes its cinema… under the stars) at the Parterre of the Quartier des spectacles in Montréal (Québec); it was accompanied by images realized by Frédéric Lemelin. The work was repeated in its multichannel version on October 20, 22 and 23, 2016 at the Maison symphonique de Montréal (Québec). Tunnel azur was revised and remixed in the summer 2018 at the composer’s studio in Montréal (Québec). Tunnel azur was commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the metro by the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) and by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM). Thanks to Marianne Perron and the whole team of the OSM, to Marie-Ève Masson-Guérette and the whole team of the STM, and to Eric Chappel, for facilitating the recording of the octobass. Tunnel azur received Honorable Mentions in the competitions of the Destellos Foundation (Argentina), Concurso Internacional de Composição Electroacústica Música Viva (Portugal) and Musica Nova (Czech Republic) in 2017.


  • August 11, 2016, Premiere of the stereo version; presented with a video by Frédéric Lemelin: OSM Classical Spree: Organ and the Silver Screen… Under the Stars, Parterre — Quartier des spectacles, Montréal (Québec)
  • October 20, 2016, Premiere of the multichannel version: Kent Nagano celebrates the Montréal metro, Maison symphonique de Montréal, Montréal (Québec)