Born in Paris in 1961Lê Quan Ninh began piano studies when he was 5, and percussion studies as a teenager. At 16, he entered the Conservatoire de Versailles in Sylvio Gualda's class. Four years later, he won first prize (graduation). Other than formal training, he developed a keen interest in improvisation through numerous concerts in Paris and its suburbs.
After the conseratory, he taught Percussion for 3 years, and performed in several contemporary music ensembles, and with dance and theater companies. However, he still persisted with self-taught free improvisational techniques, and encounters with guitarist Jean-Christophe Aveline, clarinetist Misha Lobko, and saxophonist Daunik Lazro encouraged his improvisatory exploration. Ninh was already a big fan of Daunik's violence and lyricism expressed in a tribute concert to Charlie Parker organized by the photographer Horace in 1979.
Together, Ninh and Daunik worked in Blois with the Compagnie du Hasard, directed by Nicolas Peskine. Michel Doneda joined the company during a 1986 tour in Poland, and the newly formed trio continued to work with the company and give numerous concerts in Europe before becoming Les Diseurs de Musique - a quartet with the poet Serge Pey.
He is one of the members of the Quatuor Helios since 1986 - a percussion ensemble which premieres new pieces mixing percussion, theater, and new technology.
In 1987, Ninh met bassist Peter Kowald during the Free Music Festival in Antwerpen. Two years later, Peter invited Ninh often to participate in Global Village - groups featuring improvisers from different cultures, such as Kazue Sawai, Sainkho Namtchylak, Seizan Matsuda, Zeena Parkins, Junko Ueda, Ishii Mitsutaka, Leo Smith, Savina Yanatou, India Cooke, Xu Feng Xia, Werner Lüdi, and Gunda Gottschalk to name a few. Around the same period, he participated in several Conductions of Lawrence "Butch" Morris (in Kassel, Istanbul, Verona, Munich, Sevilla, etc..), and some of them have been released on CDs. Since then, he participates in numerous encounters in Europe and America, and plays regularly in ensembles in forms which mix acoustic and electroacoustic music, improvisation, "performance art", dance, poetry, experimental cinema, photography, video, and more.
From 1992 to 2002, he was the founder and is a member of the Association La Flibuste, which is engaged in the organisation and presentation of improvisation in relation to other art forms. The association organised almost 140 artistic events in the area of Toulouse and elsewhere. He also has been a member of Ouie Dire Production which produces special recordings.
In 1993, Quatuor Helios's request of a new work of interactive computer music by George Lewis sparked the beginning of a long work with computers. Since then, many programming experiences have been realized which focus toward the interaction between accoustic instruments and the computer in improvisations, as well as compositions like Oscille. The first part of Oscille was first premiered at the Center for Research and Computing in the Arts(University of San Diego, California), and it was performed in its entirety at the Sons d'Hiver festival in 1998. Likewise, 18h22 was composed through a collaboration with the mathematician Philippe Besse. It is an installation based on Erik Satie's Vexations, which involves two computers spatializing Satie's piano piece and a pixel by pixel replacement oscillation between Satie's face and John Cage's face.
Through his work with improvising for a dance course, he has encouraged meetings with dancers. Since then, he has worked with Iwana Masaki, Valérie Métivier, Nakamura Yukiko, Michel Raji, Pascal Delhay, Olivia Grandville, Franck Beaubois and Patricia Kuypers. He gives regurarly workshops with the dancer Kirstie Simson
In 2000, he introduced the first two projects of a series called Umwelt, based by the work of the ethologist Jakob von Uexkül. In this series, the artistic coherence does not come from a direction or a spectacular will, but from the autonomy of each artist puting in relation his/her own perception of the real through his/her own unique tools.
In 2003, he was the artist in residence in Biel (Switzerland), invited by the Office of the Culture of the State of Bern. During this residence he met the musicians Charlotte Hug, Daniel Erismann, Katrin Scholl, Pierre Eggimann, Philippe Krüttli, Christian Wolfarth, Tomas Korber, Roland Hausheer, Christian Müller, Gaudenz Badrutt, Claudia Binder, Jacques Demierre, Franziska Baumann, Gilles Schwab, Hans Koch, Martin Schütz, Dorothea Schürch, Jürg Solothurnmann, Lu Ying-Ying, Franz Aeschbacher, Hans Anliker, Christoph Zimmermann, Marianne Anliker, Gilles Aubry, etc...; the dancers Katharina Vogel, Sophie Dubrocard and the Compagnie du Quotidien; the video-artists Maïté Colin and Michael Egger, etc...
With the cellist Martine Altenburger, he founds in 2006 the Ensemble Hiatus , a contemporary music ensemble whose majority of its members are at the same time interpreters and improvisers. They commissioned pieces to the composers Vinko Globokar, Peter Jakober, Steffen Krebber, Jennifer Walshe and Anthony Pateras
His discography counts about 40 CD on european and north american labels. The last release (Aplomb, 2015) is a duet with his long term colleague Michel Doneda.
kindly translated by Anthony Green