The madrigal as a musical form emerged during the Renaissance in Italy. Madrigals were characterised by the emotional emphasis on each phrase, even down to a single word. The Swedish Radio Choir presents six different stories by six different composers. The choir performs some pieces all together and some in smaller ensembles, all depending on what suits each piece the best.

One evening, Folke Rabe was at a club evening arranged by the Swedish Society of Composers, listening to an analysis of Ann Jäderlund’s poetry. “It struck me that the repetition of words that you make use of,” he later wrote to Jäderlund, “could be used in setting text to music in a way that would create a very intimate relationship between text and music. I had in mind to chose a certain sound or combination of notes for each word used, thus repeating this very sound and these notes every time this word is sung.”

In September 2009, six of Rabe’s twelve songs premièred. He had been considering what to call the songs, which were written for the vocal quartet Vox, when one of the members phoned to ask whether he thought the music would be suitable for a madrigal programme. “And that question was akin to a revelation for me! Of course, it is indeed madrigals, that I’ve been working on!” Rabe’s Madrigals was his last composition.

The Slovenian Katarina Pustinek Rakar let herself be inspired by her 429 year older countryman, Jacobus Gallus, also known as Jacob Handl. In the 1620s, his Moralia madrigals, with lyrics from a collection of medieval aphorisms in Latin, were immensely popular, not least in Sweden. One of the texts in Gallus’s music, Libertas animi cibus, spoke to Pustinek Rakar with a particular intensity. “Freedom is the best seasoning///; without it nothing tastes good. Your own bread is sweeter than all the world’s honey,” two choirs sing.

In a Gestapo prison in French Vichy, the resistance fighter and museum director Jean Cassou exercised his freedom of thought by creating poetry in the darkness of his cell. Each night, he wrote half a sonnet and it was not until right before his release that he gained access to pen and paper and was able to write down what he had memorised thus far. The texts reached the composer Darius Milhaud, who had managed to escape at the last minute with his wife and child from occupied France to the United States. Milhaud’s six sonnets, Six sonnets composés au secret par Jean Cassou was composed in California in 1946.

Almost precisely 40 years later, 1,300 km to the north along the same American west coast, at a ramshackle 50 dollar piano on a remote island and with a view of the Canadian wilderness, the fire-chord was born. That became the starting point of Morten Lauridsen’s choral cycle, Madrigali: Six ‘Fire Songs’, full of fiery love, dissonance and verbal imagery. Simply put, Madrigals!

Text: Janna Vettergren




For more than 90 years, the Swedish Radio Choir has contributed to the development of the Swedish a cappella tradition. Under the leadership of legendary conductor Eric Ericson, the choir earned great international renown. It is still hailed as one of the best choirs in the world. The choir members’ ability to switch between powerful solo performances and seamlessly integrating themselves in the ensemble creates a unique and dynamic instrument praised by critics and music lovers alike, as well as by the many guest conductors who explore and challenge the choir’s possibilities.

Permanent home of the Swedish Radio Choir since 1979 is Berwaldhallen, the Swedish Radio’s concert hall. In addition to the seated audience, the choir reaches millions of listeners on the radio and the web through Klassiska konserten i P2. Several concerts are also broadcast and streamed on Berwaldhallen Play, offering the audience more opportunities to come as close as possible to one of the world’s top choirs.

With the 2020–2021 season, Kaspars Putniņš begins his tenure as the tenth Music Director of the Swedish Radio Choir. Since January 2019, Marc Korovitch is the choirmaster of the Swedish Radio Choir with responsibility for the ensemble’s continued artistic development. Two of the orchestra’s former Music Directors, Tõnu Kaljuste and Peter Dijkstra, were appointed Conductors Laureate in November 2019. Both maintain a close relationship with the choir and make regular guest appearances.

The Swedish Radio Choir was founded the same year as the Swedish Radio Service began its broadcasts and the choir had its first concert in May 1925. Right from the start, the choir had high ambitions with a conscious aim to perform contemporary music.

Chief conductor of the Jeune Choeur de Paris, he started a collaboration with the SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart in 2013 (including a recording of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé), and also works regularly with the Chœur de Radio-France and the Choeur Accentus since 2014, for tours, radio performances, recordings, preparations and A Cappella concerts. He collaborates with many personalities, such as Sir Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel, Daniele Gatti, Louis Langrée, Stéphane Denève, Daniel Harding, Laurence Equilbey, L. G. Alarcon… He has also conducted the WDR Rundfunkchor in 2016. In July 2016, he has prepared both the SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart and the NDR Chor for Berlioz’s Romeo et Juliette. In 2017, he has participate to the opening of the Seine Musical conducting the choir accentus and in 2018, he starts a collaboration with the Croatian Radio Choir. Korovitch works for many festivals: the Mozartwoche in Salzburg, Recontres Musicales d’Evian, the Festival de Radio-France in Montpellier or the festival Mozart in New York.

Concert length: 1 h 50 min incl. intermission