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Monday, November 12, 2007

Stockholm 2007 - Week 2

Week 2

Early in the week I spent time at St. Jacobs with Gary, beginning to look through some of the latest Swedish music, plus other pieces Gary's done recently from around Europe. It's always wonderful to find new repertoire! Tuesday evening we went with Gary and his choir to Uppsala, where they were having their first rehearsal with orchestra for Mendelssohn's 'Paulus.' This was a co-production with the Uppsala Chamber Orchestra, so one concert to be in Uppsala and one in St. Jacobs, with the orchestra's conductor leading the performance (he's Estonian, so the rehearsal was conducted in English rather than Swedish). This is a very good chamber orchestra and they will be the orchestra for Bach's Johannespassion in another month, this time with Gary conducting. To give an idea of how quickly they work, the choir had 4 regular rehearsals and a long Saturday rehearsal for a LOT of music in Paulus. The Bach is a repertoire piece for them, so they'll likely have 2 choral rehearsals before beginnning with the orchestra.

Wednesday was a Radio library day for me, while Kath wandered and shopped nearby. Thursday, we met Eric at this apartment for coffee at 1 PM to chat further about what we're both doing, what's happening in Sweden, etc. We then went to the first full RK rehearsal for their next production, with conductor Frederik Malmberg. I'd met Malmberg before, but hadn't seen him work. He's particularly known for his specialties in early music, but does a wide variety of music and last year was appointed conductor of the Danish Radio Choir, which has reorganized with a 14-voice core that they expand as necessary for different repertoire. His program with RK is eclectic (to say the least!): several Gesualdo madrigals (only 12 singers) and the Monteverdi 'Amor; then full choir for Rossini's I Gondolieri and Toast pour le nouvel an; a short chorus from Verdi's Otello (Fuoco di gioia); Petrassi's Nonsense (in Italian--they're settings of Edward Lear limericks--I sang them in English years ago with Rod Eichenberger); and Luciano Berio's 'Cries of London (which has sections for solo voices as well). The connection is Italian composers. Interesting to watch him work and it will be interesting to see the program develop.

Friday morning I went to Fredrik's 2nd rehearsal with RK (still just working through the repertoire, not a lot of detailed work yet) while Kathryn did some things around the apartment and then went to one of her favorite small museums. At the end of the rehearsal I went to the other end of town to meet Mats Nilsson for lunch and then coffee at his apartment. Mats is anther friend and colleague whom I've known since my earlierst time in Sweden and is now in his late 40's, I'd say. Mats has done a lot of different things and was one of Eric's last generation of students: quite a few productions with RK, a nice recording with his own small vocal ensemble, worked with the symphonic choirs in Gothenberg and Oslo, spent 5 years in Sydney Australia conducting the Sydney Symphonic Choir, and now conducts the Bach Choir (which Anders Öhrwal had for many years), plus a small amateur choir that we'll hear on Sunday evening, and teaches conducting part-time at the Conservatory (primarily to the music teachers). Great to catch up with him and we'll also see him work with Orphei Drängar, the fabulous men's chorus from Uppsala--Robert Sund is retiring next year and Mats is one of three candidates for the position.

I then headed back to the apartment to meet Kath, as we were to catch the train to Uppsala and meet Robert and Margareta Sund for dinner at their apartment at 6 PM. We had a fantastic evening with them (and a wonderful dinner) as both are great, fun people. Again, I've known Robert for a long time and particularly got to know him at the first Marktoberdorf competition in 1989, where we were both judges. The judging sessions were all conducted in German and Robert was there to help me find the right word when I needed it--it's not easy to describe what you think of some choir's performance in another language! Robert is ALWAYS traveling (in the next couple months he'll be in Cuba for America Cantat, several places in the US for about three weeks--including Miami for the ACDA convention--and then in Amsterdam to do a week-long conducting workshop with the Netherlands Chamber Choir. Robert turned 64 last year and at OD's famous "Caprice" concert sang the Beatles' "When I'm 64" -- so we convinced him to recreate it for us, which he did, accompanying himself on the piano. We left just in time to catch the final train back to Stockholm, getting home just after midnigtht.

Saturday was Mendelssohn's Paulus at St. Jacobs, and the concert went very well. The choir was great (again, 40 singers over a large orchestra) and soloists (from Sweden, Latvia and Estonia) were very good, particularly the Estonian tenor. We also saw Birgit Hemberg (Eskil's widow) there--her daughter sings in Gary's choir--and had a lovely visit. We both know Birgit from before and had a great dinner at Birgit and Eskil's home during our last visit to Sweden. We'll find time to meet with her later and hope to get her, Gary, and Gary's wife Maria, over to the apartment for dinner. Birgit is a fabulous cook and was for a long time editor of Sweden's leading food magazine. She's now "retired", but apparently is working on a new cookbook, so Kathryn (a foodie, for sure) in particular looks forward to talking to her more about that! Birgit is also busy continuing to promote Eskil's music. After a great reception for the choir and orchestra afterwards, we headed home.

Mats' concert was with an amateur choir based at Emmanuel Church, 20 singers of decent quality, but nothing like the other choirs we've heard. A nice performance including Jan Sandström's (no relation to Sven-David) Biegga Luotha, which is a version of a Lapland "Joik"--the performance was a bit less vigorous and "ethnic" than some I've heard. It ended with Morten Lauridsen's Lux aeterna--Lauridsen's music seems just as popular here as in the US (I did the Madrigali with RK in 2002 on my last visit and at that time it was a bit new).

Next week brings more rehearsals with RK, coffee with composer Thomas Jennefelt; a dinner with Gunnar Andersson; watching Mats in rehearsal with OD in Uppsala; a choral seminar in Uppsala on Friday with Stefan Parkman, Eric, Gunnar Eriksson, and others; a fun concert Saturday at St. Jacobs with Gary singing, jazz pianist/composer Steve Dobrogosz and soprano sax player Anders Paulsson playing (and a visit from our British conductor friend, Joy Hill, whom we first met when I first conducted RK in 2002), plus what I'm sure will be a great party at Gary's afterward; and dinner at Eva Wedin's with Arne and his wife (on my mom's 80th birthday!). So it remains a fantastic (and busy) time here.

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