THE ERIC ERICSON AWARD CONCERT
92 young conductors. That’s the number of applicants for this year’s Eric Ericson Award – the competition for the most talented choral conductors, in which the winner is given the opportunity to lead some of the world’s foremost professional choirs. So far, the prize has been awarded three times, and strives to achieve a high artistic and competitive level in choral conducting. Eric Ericson has been immeasurably significant to the Swedish choir scene. Now, his heritage is in the hands of a new generation of conductors.
The three semi-finalists that made it to the final of Eric Ericson Award 2021 Sunday October 24 are Krista Audere, Harry Bradford and Julia Selina Blank.
The concert will be livebroadcasted on Berwaldhallen Play. The broadcast starts at 2.15 pm with a talk about The legacy of Eric Ericson, the concert broadcast starts at 3 pm. The talk will be given in English.
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.
Acclaimed Latvian conductor Kaspars Putniņš is the Swedish Radio Choir’s new Chief Conductor from the 2020–2021 season. He is also Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and has been permanent conductor of the Latvian Radio Choir since 1994. Putniņš is an experienced interpreter of polyphonic Renaissance works as well as the swelling emotions of the Romantic era, but his foremost goal has always been to promote new and outstanding choral music. Through close relationships with a number of Nordic and Baltic composers, he has contributed to raising the bar for performances and recordings of new choral works.
As a guest conductor, he appears with ensembles such as the RIAS Kammerchor, NDR Radio Choir Hamburg, Danish National Vocal Ensemble, BBC Singers, Tokyo Cantat and the Netherlands Radio Choir. He has collaborated with composers such as Maija Einfelde, Mārtiņš Viļums, Toivo Tulev, Lasse Thoresen and Gavin Bryars as well as initiated several drama projects in collaboration with visual and theatre artists. He has made acclaimed album recordings, such as works by Schnittke and Pärt with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir on an album that was awarded both a Gramophone Award and Diapason d’Or.
Krista Audere is a Latvian choir conductor based in Amsterdam. She is regularly engaged as a rehearsal director and conductor at Cappella Amsterdam, Nederlands Kamerkoor and the Netherland’s Radio Choir. In addition to studies at the Conservatory in Riga, Krista Audere has studied choral conducting in Amsterdam and Stuttgart. As a singer, she has collaborated with the Latvian Radio Choir and Cappella Amsterdam.
Harry Bradford is a British choir conductor based in London. He is the co-founder and director of the professional vocal ensemble Recordare. He has visited, for example, Le Choeur de L’Orchestre de Paris and the Royal Academy of Music Chamber Choir. He heads the Thames Philharmonic Choir, the North Herts Guild of Singers and the Stanmore Choral Society. Harry Bradford has studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Julia Selina Blank is a German choir conductor based in Oslo, Norway. She is regularly engaged as a guest conductor with the Slovenian Philharmonic Choir and the Bergen Cathedral Choir in Norway, as well as visiting choirmaster of the Norwegian Soloist Choir, Bavarian Radio’s Choir, MDR in Leipzig and the Swedish Radio Choir in Stockholm. Julia Selina Blank has studied choir conducting in Munich, Stockholm and Oslo.
Helene Stureborg is since almost 30 years, working as a choral conductor and pedagogue atthe Stockholms Musikgymnasium/Kungsholmens gymnasium. The school is the leadingchoir school for students 16-19 in Sweden. She is also the conductor of the StockholmsMusikgymnasium Chamber choir since 2002. The choir has won several prices atcompetitions abroad and is highly respected. They will participate as one of the 24 invitedchoirs at WSCM2020 in Auckland.After receiving a Master in Fine Arts in Church music and a Postgraduate Diploma InChoral Conducting at the Royal University of Music, she started as a church musician in aStockholm parish and became the conductor of Kongl Teknologkören at the Royal Instituteof Technology. The choir kept a high level and won several competitions.In 2011 she started her own ensemble Helene Stureborgs chamber choir which has wonGrand Prixin both Cork choral competition in Ireland and in the Grieg choral competitionin Norway.For many years Helene Stureborg was also a teacher in choral conducting at the RoyalUniversity College of Music in Stockholm and also at varying courses in Sweden andabroad. She was a member of the Artistic Council of Statens Musikverk in 2014-2016 andin2017 she received the Choir conductor of the year prize in Sweden and was one of twoconductors to lead the World Youth Choir2018 during their summer session in InnerMongolia and China
The German-speaking poet Rainer Maria Rilke, born in Prague in 1875, began his Duino Elegies in 1912 in Trieste at Duino Castle, which has lent its name to the work. However, war and an extended period of writer’s block intervened, and the poems were not finished until he went into a creative period in February 1922. Finnish composer EINOJUHANI RAUTAVAARA describes his encounter with Rilke’s poetry and the circumstances around Die erste Elegie as follows:
My youthful encounter with the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke turned out to be quite a momentous discovery, not only in literary terms but also for the development of my world view. I still associate it with the mysticism surrounding the ruins of post-war Vienna. It was there that I composed my Five Sonnets to Orpheus and two years later, in Cologne, I started writing the song cycle Die Liebenden to Rilke’s text. From that time onwards, I continued to carry with me – both mentally and in my suitcase – the Duino Elegies, Rilke’s seminal work. Over the years, I came to prefer, and find myself particularly drawn to, the first elegy, whose angel figure took on the role of a personal ‘animus’.* My orchestral works Angels and Visitations, Angels of Dusk and Playgrounds for Angels are all musical embodiments of that figure.
However, only as recently as in 1993, when the international choral body, Europa Cantat, wanted to commission a large-scale work from me, did I feel that the time was ripe for an angel elegy. It had evidently matured in my subconscious in the interim, since the process of composing the work was swift, eager and fluently self-assured.
An elegy is really a lament, and this holds true for Rilke’s elegies as well, a lament over the weak, divided and limited creature that man is. And the angel being invoked is not a Christian angel, but a higher being that has completed the transformation that we humans are currently undergoing. The Duino Elegies, with the aim of countering the dehumanisation that may happen as a consequence of new discoveries and technologies, have been cited frequently – including in popular culture – and are seen as one of the most important collection of poems in the 20th century. Likewise, Rautavaara’s composition has become one of the leading choral works.
*) In Jungian psychology, Animus represent the male aspects of the female soul.
Text: Karin Ekedahl
Born: October 9, 1928, in Helsinki.
Died: July 27, 2016, in Helsinki.
Education: Studies in composition under Aarre Merikanto at the Sibelius Academy, recommended by Sibelius himself for studying under Vincent Persichetti at the Juilliard School in New York and under Roger Sessions and Aaron Copland in Tanglewood, Massachusetts.
Works: Eight very varied symphonies (no. 7 Angel of Light a global success), orchestral works such as Angels and Visitations, Isle of Bliss and Before the Icons, a number of concertos (Cantus Arcticus, three piano concertos, two cello concertos, the double bass concerto Angel of Dusk), his break-through with A Requiem in Our Time for brass ensemble, two piano sonatas, chamber music, essential choir productions, nine operas, such as the biographical works Vincent, Aleksis Kivi and Rasputin.
He holds the Finnish record in intensive care treatment: An aneurysm in 2004 led to Rautavaara being in intensive care for close to six months, a record that probably would hold up internationally as well. After that, he was able to resume composing until complications following a hip operation took his life twelve years later.
Based on a yoik by Johan Märak) with solo by Magnus Sjögren.