INAUGURAL FESTIVAL FEATURES COLLABORATIONS
WITH SWEDISH AND BRITISH MUSICIANS AND COMPOSERS
ARTISTS INCLUDE ACADEMY OF ST. MARTIN IN THE FIELDS, HÅKAN HARDENBERGER, SVANHOLM SINGERS AND HUGO TICCIATI WITH ORCHESTRA OF THE SWAN
HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE WORLD-PREMIERE OF ALBERT SCHNELZER’S VIOLIN CONCERTO, CELEBRATION OF HÅKAN HARDENBERGER’S 50TH BIRTHDAY,
AND FOCUS ON FILM SEEN THROUGH A SWEDISH LENS
The musical cultures of Sweden and Britain come together for music.se, a new festival curated by Nota Bene Productions, over a weekend of performances in May 2012, that include a world premiere and numerous cross-cultural collaborations between Swedish and British composers and musicians. With three distinctive concerts on 10, 11 and 12 May at London’s Cadogan Hall, the festival illuminates musical links between the two countries as well as a multitude of genres, and aims to raise the profile of Swedish composers and musicians in the UK.
Nils Klöfver and Björn Kleiman, Directors of London-based Nota Bene Productions and founders of music.se explain, “Sweden has produced a wealth of great music that deserves a wider hearing. With music.se, we hope to increase the awareness of Swedish music and musicians and to expand Sweden’s presence on the musical map alongside our Scandinavian neighbours.”
They continue, “We are fortunate to have enthusiastic collaborators at the Embassy of Sweden. Their support has been vital to the launch of music.se. Carl Otto Werkelid, Counsellor for Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Sweden added, “It is not difficult to be enthusiastic about the quality and unconventional combinations of ideas that Klöfver and Kleiman are demonstrating – it is a real pleasure to work with them and see Swedish music placed in a British context”.
Themes of nature infuse the opening concert of music.se on 10 May, with British-born, Swedish-resident Hugo Ticciati performing the world-premiere of the Violin Concerto by Albert Schnelzer. He is one of today’s most frequently performed Swedish composers whose growing reputation in the UK was fueled by the successful 2010 BBC Proms performance of his concert opener A Freak in Burbank, and the recent announcement of a large-scale commission by the BBC Symphony Orchestra to be premiered in 2013-14. The three movements of the 22-minute Violin Concerto, subtitled “Coupled Airs”, are linked thematically by the idea of water in motion and inspired by an impressionistic sound world. “Coupled Airs” and the first movement’s title, “voyaging onwards” are quoted from the Odyssey’s song of the Sirens. Movements two and three, “turn your bow to the biggest wave” and “but your angel’s on holiday”, are taken from the song “On The Death Of The Waters” by American indie rock band Shearwater. In an interesting parallel, a prominent line in Shearwater’s song – “turn your bow” – echoes the first line of song of the Sirens – “turn your bows”. With Orchestra of the Swan conducted by David Curtis, the programme also includes the orchestral miniature Song before Sunrise by Frederick Delius, and concludes with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral”.
On 11 May, the programme Vocal Harmonies features the outstanding, award-winning male chorus Svanholm Singers, one of Sweden’s and Scandinavia’s most versatile vocal ensembles, pairing songs by two turn-of-the-20th century contemporaries, Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar, who strove to create a distinctive Scandinavian compositional style, and Irish-born Charles Villiers Stanford who was a torchbearer for the English musical tradition in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The vocal ensemble is joined by rising star mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately, winner of the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Award in 2011, for Schubert’s heartfelt Ständchen.
Music.se’s grand finale on 12 May features the virtuoso Swedish trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (ASMF), in a wide-ranging programme that contrasts classicism and modern popular classics, and swings the door open to include an international array of composers, yet maintains a Swedish thread. The first half opens with Mozart’s popular Divertimento K136, and concludes with 20th century Swedish composer Dag Wirén’s Serenade for Strings, an optimistic work that has been likened to Mozart but is most familiar to British audiences as the theme to the BBC TV Monitor programme presented by Huw Wheldon. In between Hardenberger offers a rare trumpet concerto by German composer Johann Wilhelm Hertel, who straddled the Baroque and Classical eras. Hardenberger, who is celebrating his 50th birthday throughout the 2011-12 season, is “the best trumpet player in the galaxy”, according to The Times. His appearance on music.se is preceded by an extensive Scandinavian tour with the ASMF (March 2012). After opening the second half of the concert with the Trumpet Concerto by 20th-century French composer Robert Planel, the programme focuses on music written for or featured in popular films: Barber’s Adagio for Strings; new arrangements for string orchestra by Swedish pianist/composer Roland Pöntinen of songs by Michel Legrand, Jan Lundgren, Joni Mitchell and Kurt Weill; a new work by prolific Swedish composer Rolf Martinsson; excerpts from William Walton’s Henry V, and Piazzolla’s Oblivion.
Music.se is a co-production between Nota Bene Productions Ltd and Musik i Syd, a hub for musical activity in southern Sweden, and is made possible with the support of the Embassy of Sweden in London and generous sponsors.