The BBC Singers is a world-class ensemble. Trondheim Soloists are our local award-winning pride and joy. Jon Fosse is one of the greatest dramatists of our time. When these three forces meet in the 2017 opening concert in Nidaros Cathedral, there can be no looking back.
The BBC Singers hold a unique position in the British music scene. With incomparable versatility, they are experts in modern music. This has given rise to several creative collaborations with some of the most prominent composers and conductors of the 20th and 21st centuries – including Poulenc, Britten, Judith Bingham and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. They also devote much of their time to working with youth and children’s choirs as well as with professional musicians.
From the start in 1924, the members of the BBC Singers have always been the best choristers to be found. The 2017 season is as exciting as always. Their enthusiasm for their work is unrivalled and their creative competence makes them a delight to listen to.
Trondheim Soloists have become quite well-known to us in this neck of the wood. They have won three Spellemann awards, the most recent in 2016 for the album Reflections. They have been nominated for Grammy awards innumerable times and are one of the top chamber orchestras in the world. They perform in various constellations with several of the country’s best artists and are an active music phenomenon unlike any other.
Jon Fosse has written a text exclusively for this work. This postmodernist, who lives in the State’s honorary residence for artists in Oslo, reflects on the concept pilgrim in this year’s opening concert. We are presented with the story of a couple who start out on a journey towards a new life, security and with perhaps hope of a better existence. You seldom get something for nothing from minimalist Jon Fosse, but with typical restraint he nonetheless offers his audience opportunities for many possible interpretations.
Yes we must find
a place to live
And that’s why we set out
for the Town where there are
so many houses
and surely we’ll
find a room
in one of them
yes as everyone else has a house
because everyone else
yes as far as I can see
has somewhere to live
so there has to be a place
for us to live as well
For we too
have to live somewhere
We too must stay somewhere
It’s impossible not to have
anywhere to stay
Alasdair Nicolson is one of Scotland’s foremost composers and gained public acclaim in 1990 when he won the prestigious IBM Composers’ Prize. His music is a rich blend of impressions from his childhood on Skye, an island off the west coast of Scotland. Besides an international career as composer, he is also conductor and teacher and is highly regarded as a creative producer. As Artistic Director of the St. Magnus International Festival on the Orkney Islands and previously of Bath International Music Festival, he has followed in the footsteps of many distinguished composers.
Pilgrim is an oratorio for orchestra, choir and soloists. The world premiere is in St. Magnus Cathedral during the St. Magnus International Festival in June 2017. As one of the two remaining cathedrals of the diocese of Nidaros, St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, the main town of Orkney, is historically important for Norwegian pilgrims. The festival programme often features both Norwegian musicians and Norwegian music. The historical ties to Norway are strongly recognised. So it is quite natural that the second performance of the oratorio should be in Nidaros Cathedral.
– Since medieval times, pilgrimage has been the term for a religious journey to a special place. A spiritual process involving self-imposed discipline, in all religions, all historical periods and all parts of the world – that is what makes a pilgrim. Travelling routes to places from Mecca to Canterbury, from Santiago de Compostela to Trondheim. But alongside this idea of the religious pilgrim, there is another kind of pilgrim – another journey – to a special destination where there is safety, tolerance and unity. Perhaps the pilgrimage of today is rather a personal journey for those who examine their own lives and try to change them, says Nicolson about the content of the work.
NB: For this concert, there are numbered seats in Nidaros Cathedral.