Tonight´s livestreamed conversation from Copenhagen takes place between music director Alan Gilbert and the musician and journalist Nikolaj Koppel.
All clips from this day
Alan Gilbert (US) in conversation with Nikolaj Koppel (DK)
Saturday August 24
The first day of the Baltic Sea Festival revolves around art, the power of water, and the role of man. Inherited stories of floods can be found across the world, and as far back as thousands of years ago. Of all the musical settings, Benjamin Britten’s is one of the best loved and most played. Here, we unite children and adults, professional and amateur musicians, in a beloved dramatisation of the Bible’s story about Noah who saves people and animals from a great natural disaster. Tonight’s conversation live-streamed from Copenhagen, we meet the musician and journalist Nikolaj Koppel and music director Alan Gilbert.
Climate performance opera NeoArctic could not be more urgent. Following critically acclaimed tours to New York, London and Copenhagen, Hotel Pro Forma’s and the Latvian Radio Choir’s performance is coming to the Baltic Sea Festival.Share this page
Foyer ConcertUpper Foyer, Berwaldhallen
Chamber music with students from Lilla Akademien.
Foyer TalkUpper Foyer, Berwaldhallen
Biodiversity is a fundamental prerequisite for our survival and welfare. But every year, diversity and plants and animals are threatened. That is why the knowledge of how nature works is more important than ever and WWF, together with the UN Convention, has set a goal that we humans should understand by 2020 why biodiversity is so important. The subject of biodiversity for this conversation is chosen in relation to the evening’s concert – Benjamin Britten’s rarely played community opera Noye’s Fludde. The talk will be in Swedish.
Pre Concert talkLower Foyer, Berwaldhallen
With Boel Adler
TALK – Alan Gilbert (US) and Nikolaj Koppel (DK)Berwaldhallen
At The Black Diamond – The Royal Library we have invited the American conductor Alan Gilbert for a conversation with Nikolaj Koppel, who is a musician, music journalist and former director of The Tivoli Concert hall in Copenhagen. Both parties are a part of the international music scene, and for years they have been working on creating and producing exceptional classical music with some of the greatest artists in the world. Alan Gilbert as the music director of the New York Philharmonic, and now as chief conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra. Nikolaj Koppel as highly acknowledged classical concert pianist and director of the Tivoli Concert hall in Copenhagen.
They will discuss the art of opening up and interpreting the classics, and how to make the great masterpieces appealing to a modern audience. That is what Alan Gilbert has done as music director for the New York Philharmonics with his great focus on the Danish composer Carl Nielsen, whose works play an important role in The Royal Danish Library’s music collection. That is also, what Nikolaj Koppel has been doing through the years as an outstanding musical performer himself. The two international music profiles will in their conversation also address the Baltic Sea Festival’s focus on sustainability. Can culture and music help create awareness on one of the most pressing issues of our times? How do they relate specifically to the problems today? Can we actually save the Baltic Sea through the emotional power of music and cross-border collaboration?
Alan Gilbert, conductor
For Swedish audiences, the conductor Alan Gilbert is perhaps best known for being the Royal Philharmonic’s Chief Conductor from 2000–2008. Following that, he was the musical director of the New York Philharmonic for a similar period of time, and in September 2019, he was appointed Chief Conductor of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, North German Radio’s Symphony Orchestra. With the support of the United Nations, he started the organisation Musicians for Unity, with the aim of bringing together musicians across national and generational borders to encourage peace, development and human rights. He won a Grammy in 2008 for Best Opera Recording for his staging of John Adam’s opera Doctor Atomic, which was also his debut at the Metropolitan Opera. He has been nominated for an Emmy on numerous occasions and has won prestigious awards for his work all over the world.
Nikolaj Koppel, musician
Nikolaj Koppel studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and went on to become a concert pianist in 1998, but retired from the business after just two years. He later took up work as a music journalist on Danmarks Radio, he also served as editor for the magazine Euroman. Since 2005, he returned to the music industry where he serves as musical director for Tivoli. For television he was judge on the 2009 edition of Talent (the Danish version of the Got Talent series). Since 2010 he has been a presenter on DR P2, where he is heard every Sunday morning. Koppel co-hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 alongside Lise Rønne and Pilou Asbæk.
LENGTH: 45 minutes
NOYE’S FLUDDEBerwaldhallenRead more
The hugely popular medieval mystery plays performed for and by amateurs fascinated Benjamin Britten. In an article, he contemplated the special joy of creating music for children or amateurs – “it is not a bad thing for an artist to try to serve all sorts of different people” – and the opera Noye’s Fludde, Noah’s flood, from 1957 is a strong expression of that. It was written for a mix of amateurs, children of different ages and professional musicians.
The mystery plays usually contained biblical material. The events of Easter week were a common theme, but the text is quite different here. In Genesis, we encounter Noah, the most righteous man of his generation, who receives meticulous instructions from God for how to build a floating craft, a vessel, to save his family and all the animals from the global flood sent to punish mankind for their treatment of the Earth.
In the English city of Chester, during the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi, a total of 24 plays were performed on the same day by representatives of the city’s various trade or craft guilds. The actors performed on large carts that were pulled from street to street so that they could be enjoyed by everyone and one of the plays was Noye’s Fludde. Britten used the Chester text as the basis for the libretto after coming across it in a 19th century collection of mystery plays and supplemented it with liturgical songs such as Lord Jesus, Think On Me and various Anglican hymns.
Britten took pains to ensure that the opera should be performed in churches or large meeting halls, not in theatres or opera houses; it has even been performed in zoological gardens. A children’s choir represents the animals that march into and out of the Ark. The events are narrated by the voice of God. Only Noah and his wife are sung by professional singers; the rest of the roles are performed by children and adolescents. A small professional ensemble is at the head of the large orchestra which also includes unusual instruments such as bugles, mugs and handbells to illustrate the animals’ entry into the Ark, falling rain and a rainbow, signifying God’s promise to never flood the Earth again.
A ballet scene depicts how the raven reveals that land has been discovered by failing to return to the Ark; in contrast to the dove that does return, with an olive branch in its beak. The dove’s melody is then played backwards compared to when it flew out. A nice little detail, typical of Britten’s ingenuity.
Text: Gunnar Lanzky-Otto
The Adolf Fredrik Church’s Treble Choir
The Adolf Fredrik Church’s Treble Choir is made up of children aged 9–12. The choir has a high level of ambition and performs single as well as multi-part works for treble chorus. The choir performs on its own, as well as together with a pianist or organist, various instrumental ensembles or orchestras. Their repertoire is aimed at the classic choral tradition but also includes jazz, folk songs, traditional music, etc. The choir is led by Isabel Josephson.
The Adolf Fredrik Church’s Youth Choir
The Adolf Fredrik Church’s Youth Choir is made up of children aged 14–18. The choir performs classic and newly written a cappella music, as well as major works, together with soloists and large or small orchestras. The Chamber Choir has been collaborating with El Sistema Stockholm since 2013 and is one of the organisation’s collaborative ensembles together with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Radio Choir, the Royal College of Music, and many others. The choir is led by Christoffer Holgersson.
Chorista from Uppenbarelsekyrkan in Hägersten
Youth choir Chorista consists of young people in secondary and upper secondary school who are interested in singing. The choir performs at services and concerts in the Uppenbarelsekyrkan Church in Hägersten, and travels to concerts too. The choir is led by Karin Börjeson.
Stockholms Ungdomssymfoniorkester (the Stockholm Youth Symphony Orchestra), SUSO
Stockholm’s Ungdomssymfoniorkester (Stockholm Youth Symphony Orchestra) consists of dedicated young musicians who have come a long way in their music tutelage. Indeed, many of them are in the final stages of their education before undertaking further studies at the College of Music. The orchestra was founded in 1978 and fulfils an important role in the Stockholm music scene, as well as in developing the musical skill of its members. The orchestra previously performed its own subscription concerts at Konserthuset Stockholm and now holds regular concerts at Musikaliska, as well as performances at other venues in the county. They have also toured extensively and played in countries including Egypt, China, the Czech Republic, Spain, Austria and Portugal. Glenn Mossop from Canada has conducted the orchestra since 2005.
Västerorts Ungdomssymfoniker (the Västerort Youth Orchestra)
Västerorts Ungdomssymfoniker (the Västerort Youth Orchestra) is a symphony orchestra within the Stockholm School of the Arts with around 40 young musicians between the ages of 13 and 22. The teaching is conducted by professional teachers within all instrument groups and it has been performing since the 1960s. The orchestra’s repertoire includes both classic works by Antonín Dvořák, W. A. Mozart, Camille Saint-Saëns and Lars-Erik Larsson, as well as popular music and film music. They have performed in many parts of the country as well as on tour in Finland, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
Musicians from the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Per Sporrong, concertmaster
Andreas Hanson, conductor
Andreas Hanson is a well-established concert and opera conductor who has conducted the major Swedish orchestras as well as made notable foreign guest appearances in countries such as Russia, England, Poland and Lithuania. He has conducted several performances at Folkoperan and the Royal Swedish Opera, including Menotti’s Ahmal and the Night Visitors, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro as well as ballets such as The Nutcracker and L’occasione fa il ladro. He made his debut in 2000 as a conductor at The BBC Proms. He is the artistic advisor for children’s and youth activities at the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and band master of the Royal Swedish Army Band. Recently, he has performed with the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra and Västerås Sinfonietta, as well as with the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra.
Johan Schinkler, Noye
Johan Schinkler trained at the University College of Opera in Stockholm. He has worked here in Sweden at Folkoperan, Wermland Opera, Göteborgsoperan, and Dalhalla, and at the Latvian National Opera and Ballet in Riga. His repertoire includes great opera roles such as Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust, the eponymous role in Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Fafner in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, as well as Hagen in both that and Götterdämmerung. He has also played Molokov in musical Chess, and performed as Mufasa in the Swedish version of Disney’s Lion King, and as the First Ancestor in the Swedish version of Mulan. In 2008, he was awarded the Friends of Folkoperan’s soloist grant. As a concert singer, he has also performed Mozart’s Requiem and Bach’s St John Passion.
Ulrika Tenstam, Mrs Noye
Ulrika Tenstam made a magnificent debut as Clytemnestra in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide at the Drottningholms Slottsteater theatre, and got her big break as Delilah in Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah. Her opera repertoire includes the great mezzo-soprano roles such as Marcellina in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Melibea in Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims, and Nicklausse in Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann. In 2017, she performed as Anna in Sven-David Sandström’s Under the Heart of a Woman at a noted production by Piteå’s church opera. She has also performed pure acting roles, such as in Herr Molière Går Igen!, choreographed productions such as Mahler’s Das Lied von Der Erde with the Hong Kong Dance Company, and demanding works like MacBeth2 by Jan Sandström, Zarah by Anders Nilsson, and Alban Berg’s Lulu. Her concerto repertoire includes both romances and chamber music, as well as the great symphonies and oratorios.
Tomas Bolme, the voice of God
Tomas Bolme is one of Sweden’s best loved actors. He was one of the driving members in free theatre group Fria Proteatern from 1971 to 1990, and has been the president of both the Swedish Union for Performing Arts and Film, and the International Federation of Actors. On stage, he has performed in Molière’s Tartuffe and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, as well as Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène and musicals Zorba! and Fiddler on the Roof. He has had a long line of TV and film roles since the 1950s, both as an actor and as a voice artist; he is well-known as the Swedish voice of cartoon character Tintin. He has also recorded novels such as Maria Gripe’s The Dung-Beetle Flies at Dusk, Michail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, and many of Jan Guillou’s novels.
Hanna Lindberg, Sem
Born and raised in Varuträsk, Skellefteå, young soprano Hanna Lindberg is currently studying at The Royale College of Music in Stockholm. She is since 2013 a member of Adolf Fredrik Church’s Chamber choir, conducted by Christoffer Holgersson.
Karin Blom, Ham
Karin Blom, born in 1996, has just finished two years of study at Vadstena song and piano academy. During the spring 2019 she was the first to receive the Otto Lindblad-scholarship. Karin grew up in Stockholm , where she sang in several choirs such as Adolf Fredrik Church’s Chamber Choir and Mikaeli Chamber Choir. This summer she participated as a choir member in Telemann’s opera ”Orpheus”, at the Vadstena-Academy.
Sally Lundgren, Jafet
Sally Lundgren in a Swedish mezzo-soprano, born in Stockholm 1995. She is currently starting her third year of her Bachelor of music at the Royal Academy of Music, with Kate Paterson as her teacher. At the Academy she has been engaged as a chorister in the Bach Cantata series, Bach the European and the Academy’s chamber choir. She has also been a soloist in the Academy’s concert series at the Italian Cultural Institute. During the spring of 2019 she was an opera chorister in RAO’s production of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges. This summer she has been part of the concert series Musik i sommarkväll in Vaxholm’s church.
After her graduation she aims to take her master’s degree in opera, hopefully in the UK, Sweden or Germany. As she has her special interest in singing and interpret art songs, she wishes to make the Swedish and Scandinavian art song heritage available to a new audience. Another dream is to research equality and gender in musicology.
Julia Sigblad, Mrs Sem
Klara Nilsson, Mrs Ham
Klara Nilsson, 22 years old, orginates from Alafors outside of Gothenburg and has studied classical singing during the years of 2016-2018. She has since many years been active as a soloist in among others Rutters requriem, Faurés requiem and St John Passion by Chilcott. Today she is a soprano in Hägersten A Capella where she is a frequent soloist and sees herself in a future where music is her fulltime engagement.
Sofia Lärkfors, Mrs Jafet
Sofia Lärkfors (b. 1994) grew up in Sundsvall but since the age of 16 she has studied and been active in the music scenes around Stockholm. Since 2016 she has been studying at the Royal College of Music’s jazz department but moves seamlessly and unobstructed between the genre boundaries. She is active as a singer and composer in her own name as well as in classical choir context such as Hägersten A Cappella.
Maria Peterson, Costume and Stage Designer
Maria Peterson is a trained designer and costume designer at the Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts and the art school Stenebyskolan. She has worked as a costume designer on Jani Lohikari’s Landet Ensamheten at Uppsala Stadsteater, Peter Weiss’ The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat and Anna Vnuk’s Möta hösten tillsammans?. She participated in the Swedish Biennial for the Performing Arts in 2015 and has had her own exhibitions at Hjälmarstrand Art Gallery and Säfstaholm Castle, as well as having been awarded several scholarships for her artistic work.
Sara Ribbenstedt, Choreographer
The dancer and choreographer Sara Ribbenstedt has performed with the opera company Kamraterna in their staging of Renard by Igor Stravinsky and Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins, as well as in the choreographer Anna Vnuk’s play Möta hösten tillsammans? at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern. She has also performed in the acclaimed Nils Holgersson by Susanne Marko and Leif Stinnerbom at Västanå Teater, and in the Malmö-based wecollective’s performance LÅR. She studied at the School of Dance and Circus in Stockholm.
Per Rydnert, Video Designer
Per Rydnert is a video designer and has almost 20 years of experience in using moving images in various artistic contexts. In recent years, he has specialized in video projections and video scene experiences. He has worked with several of our most beloved artists and performing artists while creating the video content for the Eurovision Song Contest, set up entire performances with Cirkus Cirkör, entertained the Nobel Dinner guests in the Blue Hall and gave life to the rock walls in Dalhalla. This fall, he is among other things with the new premiere of Bluebeards’s Castle and Erwartung in David Geffen Hall in New York. Participants include the New York Philharmonic and soprano Nina Stemme and Catherine Karnéus. Per Rydnert has previously been active under the name Visual Relief which he until recently shared with his friend and colleague Johannes Ferm Winkler.
Dan Turdén, Director
The actor and director Dan Turdén’s roles have included Lambert in Harold Pinter’s Celebration and Benjamin in Strindberg’s Easter. In 2006, he founded the theatre company Kamraterna, which has staged Harold Pinter’s The Lover, Thomas Brussig’s Heroes Like Us, as well as operas such as Mozart’s Zaide and Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief, which Turdén directed. More recently, they staged a much discussed performance of Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins as well as Stravinsky’s Renard///.
BENJAMIN BRITTEN: Noye’s Fludde, opera in one act
Concert length: 1 hour 10 minutes (no intermission)
The impact is powerful: An ocean of plastic billows on a large screen in the background. Twelve singers emerge, dressed in costumes associated with everything from the Inuit to tourists in black sunglasses – as if straight from a dystopian futuristic film.
The wall of sound is compelling. Vibrating and trembling with disquiet under the skin of the audience, with the choir like a unison siren.
The next image: Church bells and black-and-white images of an abandoned, ruined city.
The acclaimed opera NeoArctic sucks us into an emotional centrifuge. We travel through post-apocalyptic landscapes – tsunamis, floods, melting glaciers – in order to, in the final scene, still enjoy a kind of forgiving, sacred music.
If there was a genre called “activist performance”, then that is exactly what the audience will be witnessing in this poetic and alarming performance of the time we are living in right now: Anthropocene, the Age of Man. It is the proposed new geological epoch on earth that began, approximately, during industrialization in the 18th century, and which is characterized by the fact that we humans are responsible for the greatest changes to the climate – not nature itself.
In terms of dramaturgy, the opera is made up of twelve songs, twelve soundscapes, twelve landscapes and a planet, with song titles such as Plastic, Dust and Infinity. British techno producer Andy Stott and the New York-based composer Kristus Auznieks, currently one of Latvia’s brightest stars, are responsible for the electronic accompaniment. The text was written by the Icelandic poet Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson, more commonly known as Sjón, a contraction of his first name and also the word “sight” in Icelandic.
The work, which won the prestigious Danish Reumert Prize in 2017, emerged from a concept created by the Danish performance group Hotel Pro Forma, in collaboration with the Latvian Radio Choir. The première took place at The Royal Danish Theatre in Copenhagen in May 2016. Earlier this year, it was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington.
Hotel Pro Forma is one of Europe’s foremost performance groups. They have previously performed in Stockholm, with works including Calling Clavigo, at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern in 2003.
NeoArctic is the result of long-term research and exploratory work carried out by artists, scientists and others from various fields, with inspiration from the Anthropocene Project, a number of installations and research projects at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Since 2013, the Haus der Kulturen in Berlin has been exploring the new, revolutionary era we are currently living in through a mixture of modern art and pioneering research.
Text: Ylva Lagercrantz Spindler
Sigvards Kļava, conductor
Sigvards Kļava has been Artistic Director of the Latvian Radio Choir since 1992. He has worked with the leading choirs in Latvia as well as with RIAS Kammerchor in Berlin, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, the Radio Choir at MDR Leipzig, and many others. He has made over 20 recordings with the Latvian Radio Choir, and has had productive collaborations with Latvia’s major contemporary composers: Maija Einfelde, Erik Ešenvalds, Juris Karlsons and Pēteris Vasks, to mention but a few. Since 2000, Klava has been professor of conducting at the Latvian Musical Academy in Riga. As conductor, he has performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Berliner Philharmoniker, among others. He regularly acts as a judge on jury panels at international choral competitions.
The Latvian Radio Choir
The Latvian Radio Choir has purposefully taken on both the earliest music and the most innovative and newly written music equal impetus and artistic acuity. With their two conductors, Sigvards Kļava and Kaspars Putniņš, the choir has participated in opera performances and cross-over artistic projects, theatrical shows and much more over the past twenty years, in addition to their regular concerts. The choir has performed at a number of the world’s major festivals, including in Salzburg and Lucerne, at the BBC Proms, the White Light Festival, Soundstreams in Canada, and many more. Recordings of the choir are available on Ondine, Hyperion, Deutsche Grammophon and BIS.
Hotel Pro Forma, concept
Hotel Pro Forma is an international production house and a meeting place for cross-disciplinary artistic work. The main focus is large scale performing arts projects, aiming to challenge different approaches to both the creation and the experience of performing arts.
Hotel Pro Forma is recognized for its genre-wide and innovative work in the fields of opera, performing arts and installation, which transcend the boundaries between visual arts, text, music, theater, design and architecture. The company works with themes of a universal nature in conceptual, visual and musical settings with the application of the latest technology and artistic innovation.
Hotel Pro Forma is researcher of performing arts. The artistic work is like a set of binoculars looking into microscopic matter and out on the grand universe. A framing of existence, with time being of the essence. The work discusses and depicts the future and the past, and not the least, the challenges of our time.
NeoArctic is Hotel Pro Forma’s latest collaboration with Latvian Radio Choir. It won the prestigious annual Reumert award for the Best performance art work of 2017.
Kirsten Dehlholm, Artistic Director, is the founder of Hotel Pro Forma (1985-) With a background in the visual arts, Kirsten Dehlholm works with performance art, opera, theatre, and exhibitions. Her work includes transdisciplinary concept, direction, and visual staging for Hotel Pro Forma as well as directing for opera houses and theatres internationally.
Kirsten Dehlholm has won many prestigious awards, among others the Award of Honour from ISPA International Society for the Performing Arts and the honorary Reumert of the Year award, 2015.
ANDY STOTT/KRISTS AUZNIEKS: NeoArctic
Concert length: 1 hour 20 minutes (no intermission)