- NEW RECORDINGS OF MY MUSIC FOR ORGAN!
Dr James D Hicks is on a recording mission in both Denmark and Sweden during February.. These recordings are a part of his enormous project going back since 2009: “The Nordic Journey” which by now includes 8 volumes of CD’s, many of them double CD’s. Full of hidden gems from the past as newly commissioned pieces from a wide range of composers from Nordic Lands. In this latest recording, from Örebro in Sweden, James has recorded two commissions by my pen: “Fanfare & Chaconne” for organ solo and “Vocalise” for organ and soprano solo. The last piece originates from my big Organ Symphony which James premiered in 2016. Both these pieces are to be published on Norsk Musikforlag!
Örebro Olaus Petri Church
James D Hicks, organ & Helena Ek, soprano
- An update from a very busy composer
I wish I had more time to write on this blog but I’m all swamped with different tasks. Right now I’m in Italy for a few weeks involving myself in finishing up different major projects. It concerns both the revision of “A Swedish St Mark Passion” (which I told you about in my latest blog post) as the final orchestration of “Stabat Mater”. At the same time I’ve started out working on two other big commissions, “St Matthew Passion” and “Gloria” both bigger pieces for choir, soloists and orchestra. But even more, there are several minor works to deal with on their way to be published, proof readings, contracts and other stuff. I’m so happy being in a situation where my music matters, still, sometimes I wonder where I can find time for all of this. It’s a struggle, but a fine one! Now it’s been almost a month since my last update, I will have to be better on this but at the same time you will by now know why I am a bit behind!
Here is a photo from Cortona in Tuscany, Italy where I’m staying right now. FST (The association of Swedish Composers) owns a flat here with a studio which members can use free of charge. It’s a very inspirational and relaxing environment to be a part of and I feel very blessed to be able to have this working situation..
- En svensk Markuspassion/A Swedish St Mark Passion
I’m very proud of the fact that I was the first composer ever to introduce a Soprano voice in the role of an Evangelist in a Passion. I did that back in 2003 when I began composing “En svensk Markuspassion” (A Swedish St Mark Passion) which resulted in the world premier on April 4th, 2004. This passion was also unique since it was based on the Swedish language together with strong influences of Swedish folk music, baroque, romanticism, modernism and other musical outputs. It is scored for two choirs but one of them only appears in the opening and closing movements; a descant-choir in unison. The Mixed choir also plays the role of the Mob, the Disciples, High priests and so on, as well as performing some of the minor soloists like Peter, The Maiden and Pilate. Christ is sung by a baritone soloist. A small chamber ensemble consists of an Oboe, Bassoon, String quintet and organ. I am right now doing a reversion of the piece which will have its world premiere on April 4th (Falun) & 5th (Stockholm) where I am also going to participate as the organist. I’m very much looking forward to this!
- LUX MUNDI (The Light of the World)
One of my latest commissions which I finished last fall 2019: Lux Mundi for mixed choir a cappella in three movements (Faith, Hope & Love) is to be premiered in London on the 16th of May 2020. It’s the English Baroque Choir (Music Director Jeremy Jackman) and London Nordic Choir (Music director: Carina Einarson)who is behind this great event. They have accomplished a very cool website especially for this occasion which I can recommend!
World premier: May 16th – 7.30 pm St. John’s church, Hyde Park, London, UK
- Requiem in an organ version available!
In 2007 I composed the Requiem for Mixed choir, 2 Solists (Soprano & Bass), 2 Horns, Timpani and strings. It was premiered on the 4th of November in Stockholm. Besides performances in Sweden it has been done in Germany, Norway and USA and the UK. With this new version, for organ instead of about 25 musician in an orchestra, my hope is that it will have even further possibilities for performances around the world. The Requiem is originally written in Swedish with the traditional Latin texts from the Mass. This version also includes the English adaption. It´s published on Gehrmans. If you want to order from abroad go to this link! They ship worldwide. The singers use the already published Vocal score which you find here (Swedish) and here (English). The Conductor and the Organist use the special version.
Have a listen! “Pie Jesu” movement from Requiem
- A case of revision!
In 2003 I started composing what would become my first major piece: “A Swedish St Mark Passion”. I had a long time before wondered why there were not any Swedish setting of one of the most important storys to tell in christianity. I had by then worked almost 20 year as an organist within the church of Sweden and felt strongly that I wanted to make a contribution. At the same time I felt the importance of adding something new to the repertoire. My first vision was that a soprano soloist should do the part of the Evangelist. It had never been done before in music history. I also wanted the work to be influenced by Swedish folk music where women always had played a significant role. The hymns included were well known Swedish folk tunes. I also used the idioms of Baroque era, this one can tell by the musical structure and the polyphonic way of writing. To these components I added a lot of my own musical style that I had developed through the years, a style that could be characterized as filled with contrasts and mixed influences. Also quite so called modern ( I am not to found of that expression, since all notes, scales and chords are already “discovered” by now) chords and expressions. Two choirs, where the female choir (or boys choir) sings in unison at the first and last movement together with the mixed chorus. A small instrumental ensemble consisting of an Oboe, Bassoon, String quintet & Organ. The duration of the piece is set to about 70 minutes. No arias. Just the intense story itself, where one need one major soloist more: Christ, as a bass-baritone. The other smaller parts are done by members of the choir. I choose the gospel of St Mark since it was very straight forward, shorter and more likely to fit with the Swedish folk idiom. The Hymn texts was created by the famous Swedish author: Bengt Pohjanen.
The work was premiered on April 4th, 2004 in Härnösands Cathedral. It was broadcasted by the Swedish Radio and got a very successful response. Since then the work has been performed over 60 times which has to be considered as an achievement for being a contemporary piece. It has also been performed in Norway, United Kingdom and the USA. It’s been recorded on CD. After almost 15 years I felt that I wanted to make a revision. It’s my first major attempt and I have since then written several oratorios and passions. With this revision I want to simply some parts to make the work technically more accessible. That counts for both the soloist part as well as the choral sections. I also want to address some textual issues and of course some clarifications in the score. At last I have changed the organ part, the orchestration, so that you now is not depending on an organ with pedals. This new version will be published this year as well as being premiered on April 4th (Falun) and April 5th (Stockholm). This means that 2021 there will be a new version obtainable which suits the fact that St Mark is the official gospel during the time of passion in our churches.
- A new composition delivered!
It’s always a special feeling to deliver something that you worked on for a long time. Today I delivered a commission from The University of South Carolina, USA: STABAT MATER for 2 soloists (Alto & Tenor), Mixed Choir, Woodwind quintet, Harp and strings. It has a duration of about 50 minutes divided into 18 separate movements. I started the process last year in February and had already done a first complete set of music in March. But it’s a good thing when one have plenty of time to let things grow within yourself. A lot of things happens while time just passes. So after being busy with many other projects I started reworking everything in September and really get into the orchestration which finally ended up with a new version by the end of October. I also had to produce a vocal score with a piano reduction and that I finalized just before Christmas. Today I made the delivery and are very satisfied!
- My website is in progress – please be patient!
As you can see I have now started to add content to the missing menu “Works” , but it takes a while for me to set this up due to the fact I have so much work to do just composing. On Wednesday I have to deliver the score to STABAT MATER, a big work for mixed choir, wood wind quintet, harp and strings together with 2 soloists! I also just started a big revision on my first oratorio, A Swedish St Mark Passion, which will be premiered in its new appearance in April in both Stockholm and Falun. More on this soon. Tomorrow I’ll go to Helsingborg to present what I have written so far on another huge project: “St Matthew Passion” for Solo quintet, Mixed choir and Orchestra. However, the premier will not take place until Palm Sunday 2022 so I still have time to work on this! I also want to address the fact that there are no possibilities to place comments on my blog. I just don’t have the time needed to edit and supervise that. Still, if you have questions or thoughts around my music, feel free to write me a note via my Contact page. I try my best to answer within reasonable time. I end this blog post to give you a tip about a nice & brand new performance of an older piece from 2006, Laudate Dominum, with a great choir, organist and conductor from Denmark. Very lovely indeed!
- TERRA MATER (Mother Earth)
Had a very good start on this year: Just delivered “Terra Mater” (Mother Earth) for mixed choir a cappella to be premiered at the World Choral Symposium in Auckland, New Zeeland in July. The Stockholms Musikgymnasium Chamber choir who is invited with their conductor Helene Stureborg are behind this commission as one of this years guest choruses.”
- HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020!
I leave the year 2019 with a great feeling of gratitude and thankfulness. During this year I’ve worked on several big projects. Some of them just getting started and some of them completed. Lux Mundi (The Light of the World) was an exciting joint commission by the English Baroque Choir & London Nordic Choir. I delivered the piece (3 movements; Faith, Hope & Love)in the beginning of September and the world premier will happen on May 16th in London. I also delivered five different organ pieces. “Fanfare on St Paul” was commissioned by the Cathedral organist of Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim and premiered at St Paul’s Cathedral in London in September. A “Ragtime” premiered by Dewi Rees at Jesus College, Cambridge. A “Waltz” for the Dutch concert organist Aart Bergwerff and finally two major pieces commissioned by the American concert organist James D Hicks. One is a brand new “Prelude, Aria & Fugue” and one is a revision of an early piece: Triptyche. Both to be premiered next fall, 2020, in Norway and in USA. I also have had the privilege to work on two Oratorios. I signed up for a big St Matthew Passion for soli chorus and orchestra at Helsingborg’s Maria Church. It’s a huge piece and I have managed to complete a set of 13 Psalms (from the Bible) orchestrated for mixed choir, harp and percussion which will be interleaved in the work in the same way that chorales are in a Lutheran passion. During 2020 I will start to work on the passion story itself. Otherwise has my main focus been on a Stabat Mater, commissioned by The University of South Carolina Aiken and their assistant professor, Joel Scraper. An oratorio for 2 soloists (Soprano & Tenor), mixed choir, Woodwind quintet, Harp & Strings. It consists of 18 separate movements and about 50 minutes in duration. The World premiere is planned to happen in September and I will deliver the full score before January 15th. During 2019 I also started a new collaboration with Norsk Musikforlag and have already published three editions although we just begun 3 months ago. In February I received an honorable Prize, The Norwegian Publisher’s Prize. In May I was in San Francisco to participate in the world premiere of the commission “Ascension” for Male Chorus a cappella, performed by The Golden gate Men’s Chorus. In May there was a world premier of an organ version of my beloved Requiem in Stockholm followed by two performances in Germany in July. This version will soon be out in January on Gehrmans. Besides all these intense work I have been fortunate to experience a lot of other things around my music as recordings & concerts. I feel so blessed and I look so much forward into what will develop during 2020. I wish you all a Happy New Year!
- A brand new Commission signed!
It is a true pleasure to end this fantastic year 2019 with signing a new big German commission for Evangelische Jugendkantorei der Pfalz. A GLORIA in three movements for 2 Soloists (Soprano & Tenor) Mixed Choir and Symphony Orchestra to be premiered during a Jubilee 2021. I will begin the composing process during January and will deliver this piece before 1st of December 2020. I will be updating how the work progresses so stay tuned!