About the concert

In the spring of 2017, a big exhibition opens at the art gallery Magasin III in Stockholm, showing Gunnel Wåhlstrand’s photographically soft and unique ink-wash pieces on paper, with motives from her parents’ photo album. Music is important to Gunnel’s work. ‘These days, I go to every Mahler concert I can, and the thing I want most of all is my own chair on the choir balcony in the Swedish Radio concert hall Berwaldhallen. It’s become a bit of a drug,’ she says in an interview. She feels that she wants to thank the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra’s Concertmaster, Malin Broman, and invites her to a personal viewing of the exhibition. Malin brings along her friend, composer Britta Byström, and a seed starts growing; the trio want to collaborate.

Seven images in chronological order appeal to Britta Byström, who has approached both art and artistry in her music before. She names her new piece Ink-Wash on paper after Gunnel Wåhlstrand’s ink technique.

Three years later, a virus has swaddled cultural life in a thick, contour-less blanket of snow. But below it, things are growing. People sing a cappella with themselves, and ballet dancers in lockdown turn the dinner washing-up into choreography. A video of Malin Broman playing the Presto movement from Felix Mendelssohn’s String Octet by herself spreads on social media. Four violin parts, two viola, and two cello – eight different parts that Malin plays with herself. This lonely work awakens something in Malin that she wants more of. She calls Britta Byström.

Byström thinks of Virginia Woolf’s words in the essay A Room of One’s Own from 1929, about how women need their own spaces to be able to create. Britta says that that space for her is about ‘the magical moments that appear in the artistic process.’ A Room of One’s Own becomes a piece that becomes a video, where Malin Broman plays the same instruments as in Mendelssohn’s Octet, and whistles and sings Virginia Woolf’s words: ‘there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.’

The video premieres now – while Malin is accompanied on stage by seven musician friends to perform Mendelssohn’s whole octet together, live.

Janna Vettergren