For Musikfest Berlin 2012, the Rundfunkchor Berlin will embark on a voyage of discovery. In Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, three conductors present a diverse spectrum of American choral music in three different venues, ranging from the early works of Charles Ives to the newest works of the American contemporary composers of our time. Musikfest visitors will be able to experience the three programmes successively as a promenade concert. It is also possible to select one or two of the events individually.
The choral marathon begins with an afternoon family event at Kreuzberg’s Tempodrom, with the popular Alleluia by Randall Thompson, teacher of Samuel Barber and Leonard Bernstein. Aaron Copland’s Four Motets can also be heard, as well as music by living composers such as Elliott Carter and his younger colleagues Steven Stucky and Aaron Jay Kernis. The afternoon concert is conducted by Simon Carrington, formerly a member of the legendary King’s Singers and now a valued choral conductor.
The second station on the route, in the Kühlhaus Berlin, presents David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion. This choral work, premiered in 2007 in New York, has received both the Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy. David Lang’s work is a contemporary setting of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Little Match Girl which refers to Johann Sebastian Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, without actually quoting Bach’s music. Paul Hillier, who premiered David Lang’s choral work in New York, presents it at Musikfest Berlin 2012 with the Rundfunkchor Berlin.
The day ends with choral music ‘made in the USA’ in Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche, Kreuzberg. Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms are programmed alongside two experimental psalm settings by Charles Ives. In Psalm 150, Ives went to the borders of tonality with his harmonic crossfades. Psalm 67 presents compelling bitonality with organ accompaniment. The Rundfunkchor Berlin is conducted by chief conductor Simon Halsey. In the same concert, Cameron Carpenter, the ‘Horowitz of the organ’ plays Charles Ives’ ambitious Variations on “America”, together with his own organ transcription of The Alcotts, the third movement of Ives’ second piano sonata Concord, Mass., 1840–1860.
David Lang [*1957]
The Little Match Girl Passion
after Hans Christian Andersen
for chorus a cappella and percussion instruments