Four contemporary composers paint four different soundscapes. Stacy Garrop’s moving piece, Give Me Hunger, deals with loneliness and love forlorn. A darker image of desire and temptation is painted by Mason Bates in Sirens, about the mythical sea creatures that lured seafarers to their death. Eric Banks’s five-movement piece, This Delicate Universe, is a journey through the world of Greek poet, Constantine Cavafy. And finally, in Time, Jacob Mühlrad takes us on the longest journey of all: a journey through time.
Throughout his entire career, Eric Ericson was known for being curious about everything that was new and untried. He introduced musical styles, repertoires and not least composers and works that were not previously known to the public. In other words, this concert presents music in the spirit of Eric Ericson: three relatively unknown composers and one première. The concert’s conductor, Ragnar Bohlin, was a student of Ericson’s at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. Since 2007, Bohlin has established himself as a choirmaster in the United States and is the chief conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus.
Stacy Garrop, born and educated in the United States, was for a long time affiliated with the University of Chicago but is now a freelance composer. She has written symphonic music, choral music, chamber music and recently received a commission for an opera. The poet Carl Sandburg frequently writes about the best and the worst in humanity. In the poem “At a Window” he brings out his gentler side and writes about love. The first line, Give Me Hunger, has also lent its name to Garrop’s composition. Here, he rails at the gods about pain, hunger and failure but appeals to them to also have a little love, a voice to speak to, a hand to hold, a star to love.
In the summer of 2017, Mason Bates’s opera, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, about Apple’s legendary founder, had its successful première at the Santa Fé Opera. Bates is one of his generation’s most accomplished composers and Composer-in-Residence at the Kennedy Center, Washington. In his choral work Sirens, he has used text from such diverse sources as the Bible, Heinrich Heine and the Odyssey. The work is about the sirens from Greek mythology who tempted seamen and can be seen as an image of the sea with its treacherous tranquillity that conceals dangers like storms and rocks. Similarly, the music depicts the different aspects of the ocean.
The composer, choirmaster and music researcher Eric Banks received a scholarship to study in Stockholm and worked with, among others, the Swedish Radio Choir and Eric Ericson’s chamber choir. In 2010, he received a commission for a cantata about climate change that resulted in the work This Delicate Universe. The text is from the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy, by whom Banks has long been fascinated. In this five-movement choral work, five different universes are portrayed: Art, home, nature, love and eternity.
Jacob Mühlrad met with the Swedish Radio Choir for the first time in 2014. Since then, they have collaborated on numerous occasions, most recently in 2017, when the choral work Kaddish was performed at Berwaldhallen. In his new work Time, Mühlrad translated the word ‘time’ into more than 60 different languages: “The word is abstracted and repeated so many times and in so many different languages that the ear’s focus gradually shifts from the meaning of the word to the way it sounds. The work is like a rite that puts people in a certain state in a way that only music can do.”
Text: Evabritt Selén
The Swedish Radio Choir is like a leading mountaineer in the world of music. The choir’s chief conductor Peter Dijkstra has described the ensemble as “the group that leaves base camp first and stakes out the course for others to follow.” Three hundred years of Swedish a cappella tradition, combined with an ambitious and culturally diverse repertoire with some of the world’s finest conductors, has established the Swedish Radio Choir as one of the foremost ensembles of its kind. The 32 professional singers are as equally at home in completely new music by today’s most exciting composers as they are in classic favourites from the rich international treasure trove. Through the Swedish Radio’s broadcasts and website the choir not only reaches concert audiences but also radio listeners everywhere.