Tomten

Tomten Umschlag-01

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Cantata with words from Viktor Rydberg
Instrumentation: mixed choir SAB and string orchestra
Duration: ca. 19 minutes
First performance: students from Borås kulturskola, Borås Vokalensemble, 3rd december 2016, Gustaf Adolfs kyrka, Borås

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The Lord Is My Shepherd

The Lord title

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Psalm 23
Instrumentation: mixed choir SATB
Duration: ca. 7 minutes
First performance: Göteborgs Vokalensemble, 19th June 2016, Stafsinge kyrka, Falkenberg

The Lord Is My Shepherd employs stacked thirds to create a floating yet reassuring textures as well as polyphonic elements, creating reminiscences of renaissance music.

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Recording with Göteborgs Vokalensemble, conductor Katarina Solén Hiller, Stafsinge kyrka, 19th june 2016

 

— my shadow, too

Haiku preview

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Twelve Haiku by Robert Spiess

Written for Katarina Hiller and Göteborgs Vokalensemble
Instrumentation: mixed choir SSAATTBB and guitar
Duration: ca. 10 minutes
First performance: Göteborgs Vokalensemble, 19th August 2014, Kungsbacka

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Recording with Göteborgs Vokalensemble and Sebastian Caldas:

Tre motetter/Drei Motetten

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The motets are originally in Swedish, but there is also a German version available, translated by Annika Baetge.

Du visar mig vägen till liv
Book of psalms 16:11
Instrumentation: mixed choir SATB
Duration: 2½ minutes

Se och smaka Herrens godhet
Book of psalms 34:9
Instrumentation: mixed choir SSAATTBB
Duration: 3½ minutes
First performance: Vokalensemble Chorioso and Göteborgs Vokalensemble, 1 November 2012, Baden-Baden

Prisa vår Gud, alla folk
Book of psalms 66:8–9
Instrumentation: two choires with three voices SABSAB
Duration: 2½ minutes

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This collection of three motets gatheres three quotations from the bible concerning trust in god:

You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Praise our God, all peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;
he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping.

Die Qual der Wahl

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Instrumentation: two male choirs with four voices each TTBB and a female choir with eight voices SSSSAAAA
Duration: 2½ minutes
First performance: Remigius Kammerchor Nagold, 8th june 2012, Frankfurt

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Early this year the Remigius Kammerchor Nagold, formerly known as Kammerchor Altensteig, commissioned a piece for the Chorfest Frankfurt 2012. It was supposed to be an arrangement of the swabian folk song Mädle ruck, ruck, ruck an meine grüne Seite, in which a youth courts a girl – Girl, come, come, come by my green side.

The song itself is very simply built with numerous stanzas and only little musical material. In my arrangement I keep this simple form, using Friedrich Silchers version of the song (Die Auserwählte) as a starting point. His plain setting for male choir is distributed on the two male choirs which stand at the edges of the choir. Starting of together the two male parties soon begin two brawl over the girl which undecisively see-saws between the two.

Havet

Instrumentation: mixed choir and soloist
Duration: 3 minutes
First performance: Göteborgs musikhögskolans kammerkör, 8th March 2012, Göteborg

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Recording with Vokalensemble Chorioso and Göteborgs Vokalensemble, 1 November 2012, Lutherkirche Baden-Baden Lichtenthal

When learning a new language, a whole new universe of possible texts for musical settings is revealed. Havet is my first piece in Swedish: Its author Göran Palm’s poetry is not unlike the poetry of Robert Gernhardt, balancing between deep meaning and nonsense. I tried to find a way to translate this tightrope walk, keeping the wit of the text but also emphasising its serious side.

Performance instructions
The choir improvises with the six materials given in the score. The singers start with only the first event, during the piece the other materials are added – i.e. the new material does not replace the existing but instead the choices for improvisation are extended.
Each singer improvises individually: He or she chooses an event, performs it, takes a rest of arbitrary length and begins with the next event of his or her choice. Even the first material is not meant to be performed by the whole choir or by a group of singers simultaneously. The chord is only given as possible choices of pitch. The duration spans given with the events indicate their approximate length.
The soloist might be a woman or a man and should perform without amplification, if possible. The part consists of six events that begin at the times indicated on the duration axis. Each event is executed once. Together with the beginning of the soloist’s events the materials for the choir are added. Depending on the size of the choir it might be advisable to begin with only a part of the singers.

Chorfantasie über »O Tannenbaum, du trägst ein’ grünen Zweig«

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Instrumentation: SATB, partly split into up into 8 voices SSAATTBB
Duration: 4 minutes
First performance: Göteborgs Vokalensemble, 16th December 2012, Göteborg

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Recording of a rehearsal with Göteborgs Vokalensemble, conductor: Katarina Solén-Hiller:

During my first two years at the music university in Karlsruhe I had the great pleasure to participate in the lessons of Peter-Michael Riehm, a great music theorist, composer and teacher. He opened my eyes to very special aspects of music and aesthetics in general. Sadly he died very suddenly in January 2007, just before I was about to begin studying music theory with him.

One of the things he taught me was about the nature of real folk music. To explain this he used two German christmas carols: O Tannenbaum and O Tannenbaum, du trägst ein’ grünen Zweig. The theme of both carols is the fact that fir tress do not lose their leaves in winter. Their character however is very different: While O Tannenbaum nearly resembles a march with its strong, punctuated rhythm, O Tannenbaum, du trägst ein’ grünen Zweig is much softer, following the shape of a fir with its melody. Right at the beginning it leaps upwards – just like a tree trunk – followed by a slow descent which takes nearly the shape of branches.

The Chorfantasie is based on this song, I wrote it as a dedication to Peter-Michael Riehm.

Variationen über ein altes Thema

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Instrumentation: 4 speakers with megaphones
Duration: 9 minutes
First performance: Scholarship holders of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Berlin, 4th June 2011 (partly)
Students of the Högskola för scen och musik Göteborg, Göteborg, 17th November 2012 (completely)

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Variationen über ein altes Thema is my reaction on a seminar in which I took part in the organisation of an art exhibition together with fellow scholarship holders of the German Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. The general topic of this exhibition was arts and politics. Apart from the concrete organisation a lot of profound discussions about the relationship of arts and politics emerged, especially about the question in which way political attitudes can be transformed into artistic expression. One of the more extreme viewpoints in this discussion was that every work of art must incorporate a political statement, and if this is disputed by the artist he himself states the political content through this denial – stating that he disapproves of any political commitment.

This attitude obviously led to some intense debates, as it implies a lot of problematic connotations. Like some of the other artists present at this seminar I – being an artist who is not laying any political intentions my compositions – felt rather affected by this assumption. This feeling of being offended however soon converted into something else: I felt challenged to prove this approach wrong.

I believe that if art shall be political, its connotation has to be tangible in the artwork itself, visible not only through long and complicated explanations by the artist but at least in some way present to a ingenuous recipient. My idea for the piece that I was going to write was therefore to create a music which itself carries no political content by reconstructing an apparently political text in such a way, that its meaning – and therefore even its attitude – is completely dissolved in sound. Only further explanation of its genesis shall reveal the deeper meaning.

The musical realisation of this rather abstract idea began by choosing a suitable setting: By choosing four speakers with megaphones I intentionally created a rather paradox situation: The piece, seeming completely unpolitical to the listener, is performed by musicians that use the most politically entailed instrument: the megaphone. The text that is spoken is taken from a babylonian inscription ca. 1000 B.C. and states that today’s youth is corrupt and that the babylonian civilisation will end because of its juveniles. Despite its banality its tenor is even today uttered very often, making it a suitable text for my composition: I did not want to take a text from politics of the day, nor did I want to use something that is completely irrelevant today.

The beginning of Variationen über ein altes Thema resembles the theme, in a sense that here the text appears as an entity. Various techniques are however used to make the actual words inaudible, using the text as a quarry for sounds. In the course of the piece variations of the “theme” follow, in which on composition technique from the beginning after the other is explored more in detail.

Due to the ideas that are the origin of this piece it is desirable that this information is not given in advance. However, this text could be read to the audience after the performance.

memento mori

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Instrumentation: SATB, partly split into up to 8 voices SSAATTBB
Duration: 13 minutes
First performance: Vokalensemble Chorioso, 21st May 2011

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Recording of the first performance with Vokalensemble Chorioso, conductor: Matthias von Schierstaedt

The idea to write a piece of music on the basis of the medieval text memento mori has preoccupied me for several years, before I finally started to work on it in spring 2010. It is less the content of the text but rather the very special language – a mix of old and middle high German in a very certain dialect – that fascinates me.

It is a penitential sermon which tells about the corruptness that leads man to sin and to go into hell when he dies. On the other hand it also shows that everyone can withstand these temptations and thus reach paradise.

Two aspects make it difficult to use the text for a composition that uses words in a traditional way as I did: Firstly it does not have a continuous meter or a real rhyme structure. Although the text is a series of couplets these are only seldom perfect, often two words that are supposed to rhyme are only very loosely related. This gives the whole text a very prosaic feel. Secondly the text does not have a continuous form. Instead it changes randomly between the promises of heaven and the threats of hell, repeats ideas with nearly the same words, and no development can be found.

I tried to find a musical language and form that corresponds to the prosaic text by being very narrative, following the sequentiality without losing a form that works. I decided not to develop motifs, melodies or any musical ideas in the music. Although repetitions of whole passages or parts of these can be found in the piece, they do not undergo a development, are merely adjusted to the needs of the words, thus picking up the narrative form of the text. As the text, the music can be seen as being rephrased in theses sections.

In order to find an entire form I split the text into two parts, the first having a larger emphasis on the corruptness of the world, the second concentrating more on man’s chances to reach paradise and his or her legitimate hopes of success in the course to do so. This fragmentation gave me the possibility to make a clear cut within the piece without losing coherence, and by building links between the two parts – e.g. through repetitions of musical motifs and ideas – I was still able to create a composition in which both parts belong together and do not appear as separate pieces.