Opening Concert: A European Requiem + Vier letzte Lieder

Has Europe lost its culture of grace and mercy? Yes it has, according to James MacMillan, who will conduct his own work A European Requiem in the opening concert.

The opeing concert of Olav's Festival 2019 will be a big occasion, featuring international stars with Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and a magnificent choir composed of Trondheim vokalensemble, TSO-koret, Utopia & Reality Chamber Choir and Nidaros Cathedral Choir.

Under the ominous cloud of the Brexit referendum, the composer’s funeral mass for Europe, A European Requiemhad its British premiere during the ever-popular BBC Proms in 2017. Although it might be tempting to connect these two events, MacMillan, a Scot and one of the most significant contemporary composers, was concerned with greater matters when he wrote the work.

Destructive optimism

Far from being short-sightedly British, the work is nothing less than a funeral mass for European culture and civilization. As a Catholic and fallen socialist, MacMillan is still politically committed but with a more concervative world view and values. He sees Christian ideas of forgiving as a source of freedom in Europe, and as a cultural inheritance which has been lost as a result of perfunctory optimism. One after another, mass faith in communism, fascism and Nazism has destroyed humane society, in the opinion of the composer. In fact, it may be the case, says MacMillan, that what European civilization needs right now is a requiem, a mass for the dead. Perhaps this is how to revive what made Europe ‘Europe’, in its full spiritual meaning?

Composer conducts

James MacMillan is one of the great contemporary composers whose music is played all over the world. The music of the 59-year-old Scot, who has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth, has both a strongly spiritual and a political side. One of the goals of his music is to generate greater solidarity with the politically oppressed of the world.

The work will be conducted by the composer himself, providing him with a unique opportunity to realise his own ideals. This summer MacMillan will be 60, and the opening concert of Olav’s Festival is the European culmination of the celebration of this anniversary.

The soloists in A European Requiem are Rupert Enticknap (countertenor) and Mark Stone (baritone).

International celebrity sings Strauss

The German soprano Anette Dasch is acclaimed throughout the world. She performs with orchestras such as the Berlin and the Vienna Philharmonic, with conductors like Sir Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim and Kent Nagano and has her own concert series at several of the world’s most prestigious venues.

On July 28th in Nidaros Cathedral, she will perform Richard Strauss' last completed composition Vier letzte Lieder (The Four Last Songs), which are among the most beautiful songs in the orchestral repertoire. He wanted Kirsten Falgstad to perform the work for the first time, a wish that was not fulfilled until after his death. Three of the songs are about death and how life is perfected by death. In Frühling (Spring), the poet, (Hermann Hesse) talks about how everything will come to life once more after the stillness of winter, and how life is given another chance.