Tilausteos on valmis – säveltäjä kertoo

08.08.2019 Somnium Ensemble Uutiset

Somnium Ensemblen huippumielenkiintoinen syyskausi on valmiina alkamaan! Ensimmäisenä vuorossa on jännittävä reissu Arezzoon European Grand Prix for Choral Singing -finaalikisaan. Tässä tähyämme jo kohti marraskuista 10-vuotisjuhlakonserttiamme, jossa kantaesitetään juhlavuoden tilausteos – Alex Freemanin Cathedral of Spring. Teos on nimittäin nyt valmis, joten päästetään säveltäjä ääneen!

”Greetings from Luopionen! This morning I am thinking about the journey that our Cathedral of Spring underwent from beginning to end, looking forward to the coming season, and thinking of some things to share with you that might enrich the experience for the choir and our audience.

Kuva: Lars Johnson

Spring is indeed the central and recurring theme throughout the piece, and the idea of a “cathedral” was a useful spark for making some final decisions about texts and overall shape. When we settled on the title and the concept earlier this year, I had been inspired by memories of the night-time sky in early spring—the warm air, the teeming, buzzing energy of life all around, and an expansive dome of stars overhead. I then imagined that moment in time as a kind of sacred space; this is the point where the “cathedral” notion came to mind.

The concept reminded me of a set of songs one of my first teachers, Robert Ward, composed in 1951 called “Sacred Songs for Pantheists”. His settings of nature-themed poems by Gerard Manly Hopkins, Emily Dickinson, and James Stephens, offer up that poetry as nonreligious but nevertheless “sacred” liturgy. Making that connection, and ruminating on some amorphous childhood memories of spring, I got the idea that our project could somehow reflect something sacred in that common, earthly, but still mystical and always miraculous change of season.

So I started to think that it might be interesting to try to structure the work in terms of the substance of a service: a kind of pantheistic “jumalanpalvelus”.  (You may be seated / Voitte istua):

I. Invocation: A Silver Sudden Parody of Snow (e.e. cummings)

II. Homily (a short sermon): [In Just-] (e.e. cummings)

III. Offertory: BLUE-BUTTERFLY DAY (Robert Frost)

IV. Benediction: Spring Hymnal (e.e. cummings)

The frenetic and joyous poetry of e.e. cummings, from his Epithalamion, gives an exclamatory introduction to the set, followed by his vision of spring from the point of view of giddy children in his iconic poem, [in Just-] (what could be more sacred than that?). We then take a moment to contemplate the ephemerality of all this beauty (spring giveth and spring taketh away, i.e. an offertorium of sorts); Robert Frost places us in a moment where, by chance, we find ourselves enveloped by a delicately fluttering swarm of butterflies. Peaceful and still, yet in constant flux, we spend some time taking that phenomenon in, while also experiencing a twinge of the realisation that this is truly fleeting. The final movement, returning to a later stanza from Epithalamion, cummings’s sparkling paean to May is set as a kind of final anthem:

O visible beatitude sweet sweet
intolerable!silence immaculate
of god’s evasive audible great rose!

 (Go in peace. / Lähtekää rauhassa.)

All best wishes for the beginning of Somnium’s 10th season and thank you againI am honoured to be a part of it!”

Alex Freeman