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6th March 2018
Travel from darkness to light in works connected by a common theme; whether relating to faith or anxiety about war, all of the music in this concert reflects the pathway to salvation. Join us for this musical journey.
Like many Baltic composers Ešenvalds is characterised by a lack of self-consciousness, a directness of expression that is disarmingly sincere, and a love affair with choral music. Growing up in a newly independent Latvia he was not limited by the past and felt he had a new, clean sheet on which to start composing. But he is born of a culture that places choral singing at the very heart of its national identity and choral music has become a regular part of his work.
His inspiration comes from nature and also folk music. he says. But before realising his true vocation lay in music Ešenvalds studied for two years in a Baptist seminary, and he remains deeply committed to the church, serving as director of music for the Vilande Baptist Congregation in Riga. The most substantial product to date of his profound religious faith, Passion and Resurrection was written in 2005 and premiered by Māris Sirmais and the State Choir Latvia. It was recorded in 2010 with soprano Carolyn Sampson (pictured) as soloist, and Carolyn joins The Bach Choir to reprise her role at this concert.
Following his Bachelors and Masters degrees in composition at the Music Academy in Riga, Ešenvalds undertook a wide range of occasional studies—with Jonathan Harvey and Michael Finnissy from the United Kingdom, with the American Richard Danielpour, and with Klaus Huber from Switzerland, among others.
For his Passion the composer has assembled an interlocking mosaic of texts from the gospels, from Byzantine and Roman liturgies, and from the Old Testament. The result is a series of snapshots, the tale told elliptically. The story begins with a fallen woman acknowledging the divinity of Jesus, and ends with Mary Magdalene (who may be that same fallen woman) recognising the risen Christ. This circularity (and there are similar echoes and pre-echoes within the narrative) serves to emphasise that these are not historical events but are occurring in an eternal present, just as the passion and resurrection of Christ are re-enacted and re-experienced by Christians every week.
Please click here to listen to the Kyrie from Haydn’s Nelson Mass.
Please click here to listen to Esenvalds’ Passion & Resurrection.
Please click here to download a flyer for this concert.