Amers is the title of a book of poems by Saint-John Perse, dedicated to the sea. It is also the title chosen by Kaija Saariaho, born in Finland in 1952, for a work completed in the studios of IRCAM in Paris.
Amers is the French word for 'navigation beacons', strategically spaced along the coast for sailors. One of the earliest ideas about the piece was the effect of a solo cello "as a sailor charting a course through a sea of sounds", but his journey, scattered with phrases defined by the existing sound material, is hampered by the surroundings. To a certain extent Amers is a concerto, even though the composer has tried to avoid the usual duel between orchestra and soloist. Instead the piece divides naturally on three levels - each with a certain independence. The cello, juxtaposed with the instrumental ensemble and with computer generated sounds, cannot reach its scheduled ports of call directly and is often pulled off course.