Those involved in choral and liturgical music in Sweden from the early 90’s onwards, will have come across Fredrik Sixten as a conductor, a composer, organist or musical director.
His unique ability to capture that special Nordic glow in his vocal and choral compositions and simultaneously allowing his main influences like the baroque masters and the French impressionists add depth to his compositions, was recognised from the start.
Sixten’s output over the past decades and his journey to global “composer-to-watch” status in recent years and his unique ability to capture the essence of a text, meant that London Nordic Choir and English Baroque Choir were ready to jump at the idea of a special commission for a British/Swedish collaborative project.
In typical Swedish collaborative spirit, an intense dialogue between Rivington, Sixten and the Musical Directors Carina Einarson of London Nordic Choir and Jeremy Jackman of English Baroque Choir, followed.
The essence of Nordic Music had to be represented in the piece and ‘Light’ was early on identified as intrinsic to everything Nordic as well as a universal symbol for hope.
“Nature’s changes is a constant presence in Nordic Music and in Lux Mundi, harmonies move swiftly from winter’s shadows to summer’s clear and sublime light. Yearning, romantic melodies and dancing rhythms reference folk music and high tessituras add a Nordic shimmer to the sound.”
Carina Einarson, Musical Director, London Nordic Choir
Musical Directors have to consider technical ability, vocal ranges and number of singers involved to aid the work’s practical execution. The original idea of a central theme of hope and compassion and a coming together across borders also had to be maintained. How best to bring English culture into the mix was discussed in great depth and words, it was agreed, would be in English for a broad appeal. As one of the most important books in English culture, King James bible with its vivid imagery, majestic language and resonant strength was favoured by all involved as a perfect source of texts.
The formal commission brief from both choirs to was delivered in June 2019 and Sixten – having already had the main musical ideas clear in his mind – completed the piece in 3 months.
“Some contemporary composers drive audiences away with their wild experimentation – Fredrik Sixten is not one of those. It’s a beautiful, grandiose and sometimes languishing composition…it has its challenging moments but this is accessible listening both for the beginner and the seasoned classical music lover”
Martina Jarminder, Skånska Dagbladet on Opera ”Wallander W – The Truth Beyond”
“My music is expressive and honest. It loves beauty, but is continually driven to explore its contradictions. It is not afraid of the dark or opacity. It shifts effortlessly between different moods and characters. It is not afraid of being real.” Fredrik Sixten
In Fredrik Sixten’s music traditional structures get a forward-looking treatment in a blend of the past and contemporary. Influenced by the Bach, French impressionism, Swedish folk music, Prince(!), jazz and blues. His skilfully executed choral works require mental and vocal agility from the performers and he is one of the most highly regarded – and performed – composers of choral music in Scandinavia, Europe and the U.S.
His reputation in the UK is also growing fast and his ‘Mary’s Lullaby’ made it to the BBS Singers’ Christmas Concert programme 2019 and his UK publisher Edition Peters lists him as one of their “official high priority” contemporary composers.
Born in 1962, studies at The Royal Swedish Academy Music were followed by posts as organist and choral conductor, before composing took over as the full-time job.
Much of his choral output can be used liturgically and include large-scale oratorios (one where the evangelist is sung by a soprano! ) but his openness to the world around him has led to commissions like the opera about Henning Mankell’s music-loving Swedish detective Wallander in English for Tubingen Oper, Germany, a carol for American all-male choir Chanticleer and a lullaby for the Royal Swedish Family’s televised christening.
London Nordic Choir and English Baroque Choir asked Fredrik Sixten to use ‘Light’ as a theme for the special commission. Light as a symbol for hope, for unity, for compassion – Northern lights to guide and inspire. ‘Lux Mundi’ (Light of the World) and its three movements ‘Faith’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Love’ fulfils the brief on every level.
His musical response, Lux Mundi, in three movements - Faith, Hope & Love – has the sophistication and complexity you would expect with thrilling harmonies and soaring beauty – a synthesis of the traditional and the modern, appealing to both musical specialist and non-specialists alike.
To carefully selected texts in the beautiful and evocative language of King James Bible, he meticulously crafts the precise musical expression each individual passage calls for: the depths of darkness, the faith that keeps us, the light that offers hope and the redemption of love - the result is captivating, inspiring, fresh and brave.
“Fresh and vibrant, extensive leaps and complex tonalities with elegance and grace. There was a sustained lyricism; sopranos shimmer above a rich foundation laid below them, This difficult piece was impeccable”
The San Francisco Classical Voice of ‘Seek Him’
The concerts in London 16th May and Stockholm 5th July capture the original idea: celebrating our countries’ finest music for choir and coming together in one unifying, collaborative piece of our time.
To frame the programme’s centre piece and to remind us of the musical treasures of both Swedish and British music that has informed and inspired ‘Lux Mundi’, English Baroque Choir will sing music by Weelkes, Blow and Purcell as well as folk songs in arrangements by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
London Nordic Choir showcase Nordic choral gems by romantic composers such as Wilhelm Peterson-Berg and David Wikander as well as contemporary classics by Kim André Arnesen and Ola Geijlo.
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