EARTH’S SONG by Rolf Gupta

«Jordens sang» av Rolf Gupta har vakt enorm begeistring både hos publikum og kritikere. Trondheim Symfoniorkester & Opera er blant bidragsyterne når verket for første gang oppføres i en katedral under Olavsfest 2022.

What does the beginning of the world sound like? What happened before the Big Bang? What is the sound of silent space, where there is no air. Composer Rolf Arvind Gupta pondered these questions as a child.

“Earth’s Song” considers nothing less than Earth’s creation and humanity’s search for answers.


In describing the work, the composer says:

“Humanity will always be in search of an explanation of what seems impossible. We can imagine the infinite, but we can’t comprehend it. From the perspective of eternity, our lives are infinitely short. Even the birth, life, and future death of the universe are but a blink of the eye measured against what is infinite.

‘Earth’s Song’ is a reflection of the wonder, longing and joy the work of creation evokes in us. And it is a warning: If we don’t stop to listen to the Earth’s song we risk extinguishing our own lives and the fragile natural world we are a part of. Are we in the process of destroying ourselves in our frustration over an absence of answers?

“If we are to protect ourselves, we must protect our Earth. It will take care of itself on its own, but without us there won’t be anyone to seek and long for answers to the riddle of the infinite. The Earth’s Song is a prayer for our planet.”


Earth’s Song is based on 3,000-year-old Indian texts, the Bible, and texts by Friedrich Schiller and Gustav Mahler. The concert in Nidaros Cathedral during Olavsfest will be the first performance of the work in a cathedral, which Gupta is looking forward to.

“Earth’s Song considers existential questions,” he explains, “the same questions underlying our need for holy places and buildings: cathedrals, mosques, temples and synagogues.

“Theatres, stages and concert halls are of course also spaces for contemplating existential themes, but they must be able to accommodate the entire range of human experience and are thus secular temples. A cathedral stands in contrast to this as a holy temple reserved for existential wonder and worship. I can imagine that a performance of “Earth’s Song” in Nidaros Cathedral will help sharpen the focus on the work’s content regarding birth and creation, wonder, destruction, and hope,” says Gupta, who also thinks the work’s themes coincide exceptionally well with Olavsfest’s theme for 2022, HOPE.

“Hope and wonder,” he says, “are the most important message of Earth’s Song, as I see it”.  


Rolf Gupta (b. 1967) is one of the most important conductors of our time and since the late 1980s has been active as a composer as well. He wrote “Earth’s Song” as a commissioned work for the centennial celebration of Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra, and the composer, orchestra and conductor Peter Szilvay received the Norwegian Music Critics Award 2020 for the work and the performance. Szilvay will conduct the Olavsfest performance, which will include Trondheim Symphony Orchestra, a large choir and vocal soloists.

“Earth’s Song” was recently nominated for the Norwegian Society of Composers “Work of the Year” award. It also had the honour of opening the Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival earlier this year, receiving a standing ovation and glowing reviews:

“Seldom does one experience such a high-quality performance from all participants … His unique voice is an enrichment of Norwegian musical life.” — Vårt Land

“A work of art successful indeed and alive from its core to its outermost limits.” — Ballade

“Formal mastery and orchestration of the highest order … Without doubt a milestone in the composer’s career.” — Morgenbladet

“A moving, earth-shaking performance.” — Klassekampen

Composer and Performers

Dirigent: Peter Szilvay
Solist: Caroline Wettergreen
Solister fra Operaens Barnekor: Christian Stenberg Kløv og Inga Lohne-Otterstad
Trondheim Symfoniorkester & Opera
Kormester: Urša Lah
Trondheim Vokalensemble
Trondheim Symfoniske Operakor
Utopia & Reality Chamber Choir
Barnekoret Jordens sang
NRKs guttekor Sølvguttene med kormester Fredrik Otterstad

Listen to Rolf Gupta and conductor Peter Szilvay in conversation with Paul Leer-Salvesen before the premier performance in Kristiansand: