Mahler´s Eighth Symphony
The Symphony of a Thousand doesn’t quite require 1,000 performers, but close to 300 singers and instrumentalists. Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 is in every way a musical epos, and a grandiose tribute to love and the salvation of mankind. Watch the livestreaming of Friday´s concert on Play.
Inspiration struck Gustav Mahler with incredible force in the summer of 1906 when he wrote the whole piece in a matter of months. His wife, Alma, later told how the Veni Creator Spiritus music of the first movement was composed before Mahler received the text, and yet fit like a glove. Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 brought together the Latin 9th century hymn and Goethe’s 1,000 years younger play Faust. It’s a pioneering and optimistic piece that, in the words of the composer, sounds ‘as if the whole universe began to sing’!
The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra is known worldwide as one of Europe’s most versatile orchestras with an exciting and varied repertoire and a constant striving to break new ground The multi-award-winning orchestra has been praised for its exceptional, wide-ranging musicianship as well as collaborations with the world’s foremost composers, conductors and soloists.
Permanent home of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 1979 is Berwaldhallen, the Swedish Radio’s concert hall. In addition to the audience in the hall, the orchestra reaches many many listeners on the radio and the web and through it´s partnership with EBU. Several concerts are also broadcast and streamed on Berwaldhallen Play and with Swedish Television, offering the audience more opportunities to come as close as possible to one of the world’s top orchestras.
“The orchestra has a unique combination of humility, sensibility and musical imagination”, says Daniel Harding, Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2007. “I have never had a concert with the orchestra where they haven’t played as though their lives depended on it!”
The first radio orchestra was founded in 1925, the same year that the Swedish Radio Service began its broadcasts. The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra received its current name in 1967. Through the years, the orchestra has had several distinguished Music Directors. Two of them, Herbert Blomstedt and Esa-Pekka Salonen, have since been appointed Conductors Laureate.
For more than 90 years, the Swedish Radio Choir has contributed to the development of the Swedish a cappella tradition. Under the leadership of legendary conductor Eric Ericson, the choir earned great international renown. It is still hailed as one of the best choirs in the world. The choir members’ ability to switch between powerful solo performances and seamlessly integrating themselves in the ensemble creates a unique and dynamic instrument praised by critics and music lovers alike, as well as by the many guest conductors who explore and challenge the choir’s possibilities.
Permanent home of the Swedish Radio Choir since 1979 is Berwaldhallen, the Swedish Radio’s concert hall. In addition to the seated audience, the choir reaches millions of listeners on the radio and the web through Klassiska konserten i P2. Several concerts are also broadcast and streamed on Berwaldhallen Play, offering the audience more opportunities to come as close as possible to one of the world’s top choirs.
With the 2020–2021 season, Kaspars Putniņš begins his tenure as the tenth Music Director of the Swedish Radio Choir. Since January 2019, Marc Korovitch is the choirmaster of the Swedish Radio Choir with responsibility for the ensemble’s continued artistic development. Two of the orchestra’s former Music Directors, Tõnu Kaljuste and Peter Dijkstra, were appointed Conductors Laureate in November 2019. Both maintain a close relationship with the choir and make regular guest appearances.
The Swedish Radio Choir was founded the same year as the Swedish Radio Service began its broadcasts and the choir had its first concert in May 1925. Right from the start, the choir had high ambitions with a conscious aim to perform contemporary music.
The Eric Ericson Chamber Choir was founded in 1945 by the then 27-year-old Eric Ericson and has since been a prominent hub of the Swedish as well as the international music scene. The ensemble’s interest in continually finding new music and new fields of work has given them a very extensive repertoire: from early music to the very latest. For generations of Swedish and international composers, the choir has represented an ideal with its characteristic Nordic sound and skilful virtuosity. The Eric Ericson Chamber Choir is part of the international elite of professional ensembles. Fredrik Malmberg has been their choirmaster since 2013.
Mikaeli chamber choir is one of Sweden’s most well-reputed choirs, with a broad and accomplished repertoire. Based in Stockholm, the choir comprises 32 experienced singers. Ever since the start in 1970 it has been led by Anders Eby, who is a professor of choral conducting and a conductor and teacher with various international assignments.
The ensemble’s passion for Swedish choral music has led to a large number of first performances, commissions and personal relationships with our greatest composers of choral music. The choir and its conductor also have an interest in historical music, which has contributed to the breadth of its repertoire, treating audiences to everything from female 19th century composers to polyphonic renaissance music.
Over the years, the choir has had extensive collaborations with Swedish orchestras and soloists. Mikaeli chamber choir appears on well over 20 recordings and countless radio performances, as well as concerts and performances on most of Stockholm’s major scenes. In an effort to further these traditions, the choir has also for many years arranged workshops and master classes for young, aspiring conductors.
During almost 50 years, the choir has been a mainstay of Swedish choral life. Since July 2018, Mikaeli chamber choir operates as an independent group.
The Saint Jacob Chamber Choir regularly performs at church services and concerts in the Saint Jacob Church and in Storkyrkan (Church of St. Nicholas) in Stockholm. The choir’s repertoire comprises a cappella music from a wide range of styles and periods, as well as major works for choir and orchestra. The choir has won several of Europe’s leading choir competitions, amongst them the prominent European Grand Prix, and they regularly participate in major international festivals. The choir represented Sweden at the sixth IFCM world symposium for choral music in Minneapolis in the US, together with Eric Ericson, in order to demonstrate “the Swedish choral miracle”. The choir is led by Gary Graden.
The Chorista Youth Choir consists of young people in secondary or upper secondary school with a passion for singing. The choir performs at church services and concerts at Uppenbarelsekyrkan (the Church of Revelation) in Hägersten, as well as going on concert trips. Their choirmaster is Kerstin Börjeson.
The Adolf Fredrik Church’s Treble Choir is made up of children aged 9–12. The choir has a high level of ambition and performs single as well as multi-part works for treble chorus. The choir performs on its own, as well as together with a pianist or organist, various instrumental ensembles or orchestras. Their repertoire is aimed at the classic choral tradition but also includes jazz, folk songs, traditional music, etc. The choir is led by Isabel Josephson.
Daniel Harding is Music and Artistic Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, with whom in 2022 he celebrated his 15-year anniversary. In the 2014/15 season he devised and curated the celebrated Interplay Festival, presenting a series of concerts and related inspirational talks involving artists, academics, scientists and philosophers. As Artistic Director he continues this type of influential programming at Berwaldhallen. He is also Conductor Laureate of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with whom he has worked for over 20 years.
A renowned opera conductor, he has led critically acclaimed productions at the Teatro alla Scala Milan, Theater an der Wien, Wiener Staatsoper, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and at the Aix-en-Provence and Salzburg Festivals. He continues to work regularly with the Wiener Philharmoniker, Berliner Philharmoniker, Bayerischer Rundfunk Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle and the London Symphony Orchestra. In 2018 he was named Artistic Director of the Anima Mundi Festival.
Daniel Harding’s tenure as Music and Artistic Director will last throughout the 2024/25 season. “It is increasingly rare that the relationship between a conductor and an orchestra not only lasts for more than a decade, but keeps growing,” he says about working with the orchestra. “It is also rare for an orchestra of the highest musical standard to very obviously want to keep on growing.”
After playing the trumpet in his youth, he discovered conducting as a teenager. 17 years old, he led a performance of Arnold Schönberg’s Pierrot lunaire with a student ensemble, which led to assisting Simon Rattle with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for a year. His time with Rattle and the orchestra ended with Harding’s professional debut, conducting the orchestra himself.
In 2002, Harding was awarded the title Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government, and in 2017 nominated to the position Officier des Arts et Lettres. In 2012, he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. In 2021, he was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. He is also a qualified airline pilot.
Soprano Hanna Husáhr hails from Borlänge and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, at the Academy of Music and Drama in Gothenburg as well as at the Stockholm Opera Studio. In 2009, she made her operatic debut as Leïla in Les pêcheurs de perles. She has also played Adina in L’elisir d’amore, Romilda in Xerxes and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. In addition, Hanna has a broad concert repertoire that spans the entire period from early baroque to newly written music, and she has worked with conductors such as Leif Segerstam, Pinchas Steinberg, Mikko Franck and Herbert Blomstedt. Hanna received the Jussi Björling prize in 2011, the Christina Nilsson scholarship in 2013, the Mozart Prize in the Stenhammar competition in 2016 and the Birgit Nilsson scholarship in 2017.
The American dramatic soprano Lise Lindstrom was born and raised in California. She was introduced to the world of music by her mother who is also a singer, as well as music teacher. After studying at San Francisco State University and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Lise made a spectacular and highly acclaimed debut at the Metropolitan Opera, where she stood in as princess Turandot with less than two hours’ notice. Her other leading roles include Elektra, Salome and Brünnhilde at operas such as the San Diego Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Wiener Staatsoper, the Royal Opera House, Teatro alla Scala, Hamburg Staatsoper and Arena di Verona.
Performing Mendelssohn’s Elias with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and receiving the Kathleen Ferrier Award in 2002 were two early high points in the career of Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill. Since then, she has performed with a number of philharmonic orchestras, including in Boston, Philadelphia, Seoul, Rotterdam, Berlin and London. She has worked with prominent conductors such as Myung-Whun Chung, Bernard Haitink, Robin Ticciati and Valery Gergiev. On the operatic stage, Cargill has appeared as Waltraute in Ragnarök at Deutsche Oper, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly at the English National Opera and as Isabella in L’italiana in Algeri at the Scottish Opera.
Canadian contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux had her breakthrough in Belgium in 2000, when she was awarded first prize in the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition. That was the start of an extensive international career during which she performed at venues such as La Scala, the Paris Opera, Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, as well as at festivals in Salzburg and Glyndebourne, amongst others. Lemieux cultivated her career in baroque music and has gradually taken on the 18th century French and Italian opera repertoire as well. She also performs with great symphony orchestras and conductors and gives chamber concerts with a particular preference for the French, Russian and German repertoire.
The tenor Simon O’Neill from New Zeeland performs on several of the world’s opera stages. He has sung at Teatro alla Scala, the Metropolitan Opera House, the Royal Opera House, Bayerische Staatsoper and the Salzburg as well as the Bayreuth Festival. He is primarily known for the demanding roles of Parsifal and Lohengrin. Simon O’Neill is currently considered one of the world’s finest heroic tenors with his majestic and dense voice. On Queen Elizabeth’s birthday in 2017, he was appointed Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contribution to music. Besides Wagner roles, Simon O’Neill’s repertoire includes Othello, Florestan in Fidelio, Cavaradossi in Tosca, and Mao in Nixon in China.
The bass barytone Shenyang was born in Tianjin in China and studied at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. He has played the title role in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, and at the Metropolitan Opera he played Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Garibaldo in Handel’s Rodelinda and Colline in Puccini’s La Bohème. He has also performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In 2010, he premièred Xiaogang Ye’s Song of Farewell, which was written for him, with China’s National Symphony Orchestra. The same year, he won the Montblanc New Voices Award at the Stars of the White Nights Festival.
Concert length: 1 h 40 min, no intermission
Nordic Weeks: A Drama in the Air
Britta Byström’s fresh orchestral work A Drama in the Air opens this concert, followed by Bo Linde’s rarely performed cello concerto featuring award-winning cellist Amalie Stalheim, and Geirr Tveitt’s A Hundred Hardanger Tunes.
Nordic Weeks: Broman & Börtz
Malin Broman does double duty in Daniel Börtz’s Double Concerto for One, and acclaimed singers Johanna Wallroth and Jeremy Carpenter feature in Carl Nielsen’s third symphony, conducted by Alan Gilbert.
Nordic Weeks: Norman, Grieg & Sibelius
A historic world premiere of Ludvig Norman’s piano concerto, completed by pianist Peter Friis Johansson who performs it here with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and German conductor Christian Reif.