Två porträtt | Hon [Two portraits | Her] 2011
2 mvt | 10 min
Swedish and English
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a cappella

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Premiered by

Voces Nordicæ
The Esoterics

commissoned by

Lone Larsen

About this Piece

I am enchanted with the work of Jonas Gardell. He strikes me as a Swedish version of David Sedaris, both hilarious and profound in his public performances and his published literature. I met Jonas in 1997, the autumn that I moved to Stockholm. We were members of the same gym. For my birthday the following January, Jonas gave me a copy of his book, Vill gå hem, and I read it nearly immediately. In Jonas’ book, there are several moments where the prose is, to me, completely poetic. I have chosen to set two of these moments as portraits, with the titles Du • You and Hon • She.

I am also enchanted with the music of Voces Nordicæ and Lone Larsen. I met several of the singers in this ensemble during my year in Stockholm, while singing with many of the chamber choirs in the city (Gustav Sjökvists, St Jakobs, Kungliga Musikhögskolans, Mikæli). In the summer of 2008, Voces Nordicæ was the guest chorus at the ASWATUNA conference in Petra (celebrating Arab choral music), where I was a presenter. In Jordan, I was thrilled to have this surprise reunion with many of my old friends, and loved spending some time with Lone as well. It was after the ASWATUNA conference that the talk of my composing for Voces Nordicæ began, and only after seeing each other again at the 9th World Symposium of Choral Music in Argentina that this commission became a reality. Lone and Voces do not present choral ‘concerts,’ as much as theatrical ‘experiences’ – complete with lighting, staging, movement, and sets. When she told me about their upcoming project (called 0-Kultiverat, in English: un-Cultured), I knew that I needed to set these Gardell texts for them right away. In both of the texts that I have chosen, there is a poignant and simple juxtaposition between images of the city or civilization and images of nature or the elements. These works are bilingual, in both Swedish and English.

Text Credit

Jonas Gardell

Sample Text

She walked out of that room.
She looked up to the sky.
She was eager to find out if she could see God.

But all that she could see were the stars,
and a house with a chimney
so billowing with smoke,
it reminded her of a locomotive.

That was all she saw.