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April 12 – +11 degrees!

The first day with temperatures of over 10 degrees. First walk with the dog without gloves and woolen hat. I’m starting to like April.

Kampin Laulu’s rehearsal in the evening. Second last one before the concert. The Kampin Laulu concert on April 21 is called Welcome to the US. It is a program of contemporary American choral music, all of it composed after 1998. The idea originated in my ponderings about the relationship between the US and Europe (you know, it’s complex). [The fact that I met a couple of excellent American composers in Barcelona last summer might also have played a role] On both sides of the Atlantic, exaggerating the cultural differences between the two seems to be something of a national pastime.

In choral music, the European prejudice is clear: American music is shallow and sweet, whereas European music is afforded attributes like un-compromising, complex and deep. I wanted to present a program that would force people (and me!) to reconsider their prejudices. The defining attribute for the program, besides its novelty, is its diversity – a concept so innate to the US.

The main work is This Delicate Universe by Eric Banks (2015). This suite of five movements is written to texts by the Greek 20th century poet Constatine Cavafy. Eric Banks is committed to giving a voice through his music to poets whose work was, for one reason or another, suppressed in their own times. In Cavafy’s case this reason was the poet’s homosexuality and his intimate poems never received the publicity they deserved. Banks has set the poems partly in Greek and partly in his own translations in English. The work is structurally extremely solid, inventive and scored for double choir. Hardly shallow and sweet. (If you want a taste of this wonderful work, there is a video of the premiere of the last movement here)

***

I’ll tell you more about the rest of the program next week. This evening’s rehearsal was pretty efficient. Time is running out and it’s a bit touch and go, but I managed to squeeze in an extra rehearsal for next week, which allows me to breathe a little lighter (stress management…). The Banks work is something I plan to carry on performing, so this should only be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Some works need to be approached like this, step by step, performance by performance, until they really sit well. But I have a feeling our first performance might take us all a little by surprise (meaning = be better than we expect). We will see.

I am knackered. I think I’ll watch an episode of Game of thrones and hit the sack.

 

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