On 27 August, after a delay of two years, Karin Rehnqvist’s Silent Earth finally will receive its Swedish premiere during the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm. The Swedish Radio Choir, The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Dima Slobodeniouk will perform the half-hour-long work that was described as “bewildering and powerfully encouraging” in the nomination for the Nordic Council’s Music Prize.
Karin Rehnqvist takes us out among the planets, where we can see the earth from a distance, in silence. Silent Earth is composed for mixed choir and symphony orchestra. The texts for the three movements are written by Kerstin Perski: Silent Earth – We, Who Once Were – The Burning Earth.
– In Silent Earth we have worked with improvisation. The theme is the crisis that we see today, both when it comes to the climate and to the politics surrounding this issue. It is a crisis that I feel I must respond to – it is quite simply difficult not to speak of it. So Kerstin and I sat one evening and indulged in fantasies. In our imagination, we were on another planet where we could see our own beautiful earth at a distance, in silence. There was something consoling in this.
– The title ’Silent Earth’ is also equivocal; the word silent can mean both calm and quiet. Based on this, I did some improvisations for voice and piano which she responded to with texts that captured the atmosphere in my improvisations. Then I wrote completely new music for these texts.
– Silent Earth is written for choir and orchestra, without soloists. So the choir has to carry the whole textual expression. I have worked with more concentration than ever on the interplay between the voices and the instruments of the orchestra. I’ve let them coalesce or be contrasted with one another. It has turned out to be very dramatic music, and I almost had a fright from the power of it when I was composing. But as it is composed for two of the world’s best choirs (The Netherlands and the Swedish Radio Choirs) I have felt free to pull out all the stops.
Listen to the performance:
The Swedish premiere of Silent Earth will be in the concert from Berwaldhallen, Stockholm, on Saturday, August 27 at 7 p.m.
The concert is broadcast directly on Swedish Radio P2 and is also available for listening to on Berwaldhallen Play ›
Picture from the rehearsals In Berwaldhallen with the conductor Dima Slobodeniouk, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Radio Choir.
Photo: The Composer