I have a new favorite choral composer -- Ēriks Ešenvalds. Our next Providence Singers concerts, May 13th and 14th feature all Scandinavian or Baltic composers. Ešenvalds is a contemporary Latvian composer and his work is like nothing I've sung before. We are doing two pieces by him, Northern Lights and In Paradisum -- and first I thought Northern Lights was my favorite, but now I am also falling in love with In Paradisum. Both pieces are both ancient and modern. Northern Lights is a musical depiction of the experience of seeing the Northern Lights for the first time and uses a traditional Latvian folk song to start and end the piece. The tune of this folk song calls out to my soul in a way that some tunes -- and for me bagpipes -- do. Maybe I was Latvian in another life? The rest of the text for the song is from a 19th century poem written by a sailor experiencing the Northern Lights for the first time. Some of us are playing water tuned glasses in this piece -- the sound they make is eerie and evocative. You can listen to the piece here and read more about it here. I enjoyed the composers TEDx talk seeing the Northern Lights and being inspired to composing this piece. If you watch until the end (or skip to the end) you can see him singing the Latvian folk song and playing a water tuned glass!
In Paradisum is a quite different experience to listen to. I'm so in love with and moved by it right now that I'm putting it on a list of music I'd love played or performed at my funeral. Parts of it are gorgeous and other parts are jarring -- but that's okay -- it works for me. The cello part is amazing. Its a capella with as many as 8 vocal parts at once and we get no help from the string instruments. It's a challenge, but so worth it. I'm off to practice it now. You can listen to it here, and read more about it here.
Have a great weekend, and if you are in Rhode Island or nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut please come to one of our concerts!