Composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi conducts a programme featuring a selection of his own works and a quick tour around northern Europe, focusing on music about or inspired by light: sunrise, stars and metaphorical manifestations of light such as the Virgin Mary and the inner light of a sleeping child.
The concert will begin with an evocation of sunrise in Cecilia McDowall’s O Oriens, followed by a Norwegian sequence comprising Edvard Grieg’s homage to the ‘star of the sea’, a traditional lullaby and Ola Gjeilo’s thrilling tribute to the Virgin Mary. A set of three Estonian pieces follows by Arvo Pärt, Cyrillus Kreek and Urmas Sisask, encapsulating three ecclesiastical traditions: Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic, respectively.
Except for a brief stopover in Latvia to contemplate childhood memories in Only in sleep by Ēriks Ešenvalds, the remainder of the programme comprises works by Mäntyjärvi from between 1998 and 2016, ranging from a simple ‘Alleluia’ through reflections on a sleeping child (Die Stimme des Kindes) and on the never-ending diurnal cycle (The tide rises, the tide falls) to a trio of starlight-inspired pieces: Noel. Christmas Eve 1913, commissioned by the New Dublin Voices; a traditional Swedish carol (Stephen was a stable-boy); and When I heard the learned astronomer, which juxtaposes dry academic text about heavenly bodies with the wonderment of actually gazing at the stars.