I haven’t written a lot of pieces for male choir, but had the opportunity to write a new setting of Swedish poet Gustaf Fröding’s “Det är fullbordat” (“It is Finished”) for Göteborgs Manskör to be included in their passion-themed concert where Thomas Tallis’ Lamentations of Jeremiah was the main work of the program. I am very grateful for a beautiful premiere performance. Here is a video with the choir conducted by Mathias Harms in concert at the St Nicolai church, Lidköping.
Author Archives: mikaelcarlsson
It took more than two years between completion of the composition and the first performance, but here it is: the world premiere of my setting of ‘Stabat Mater’, written for mixed choir and solo cello. My heartfelt thanks to Christian Berg whose sensitive, expressive playing was truly magnificent, and as always to my beloved Haga Motettkör and conductor Ulrike Heider. Also thanks to Sten Dereman for the recording! I hope that you will all enjoy the music, which is perhaps a little more dissonant, challenging and agitated in places than usual (for me).
Mother Goose Recordings has released a digital single featuring my setting of the beloved Swedish psalm, “Den blomstertid nu kommer”, written in 2011 and dedicated to my wife. Haga Motettkör performs under the direction of Ulrike Heider. The music is available for streaming and download on all digital platforms worldwide, including Spotify!
“I denna ljuva sommartid” is one of the most beloved Swedish summer psalms, composed by Nathan Söderblom in 1916. For a quick recording project with the newly formed Göteborgs Manskör, I did a colourful a cappella arrangement of the piece for male voices. Here it is in full bloom, conducted by Mathias Harms. Thanks to all the singers who participated to record in these difficult times!
“Waiting”, a setting of the exquisite poem by the American naturalist John Burroughs (1837-1921), was premiered by Haga Motettkör under the direction of Ulrike Heider on November 2, 2019. I wrote the piece as a 40th birthday gift to my dear friend Johanna Ek Wahlqvist, who gave me the poem some time ago telling me the story of how she grew up reading the lines as featured on a hanging tapestry in her family’s summer house. This is the end result, recorded in concert at Hagakyrkan, Göteborg.
I am very pleased to announce that most of my compositions are now available to purchase from Svensk Musik, the official sheet music store of Swedish copyright affiliation STIM. My complete catalogue should be up soon, but there is a good chunk of it available already! Perusal scores PDFs are available for instant download. Check it out!
Score and parts for my orchestral piece, Innerspace, is now available for purchase at Sheet Music Plus! To promote the work, here’s a Youtube video featuring the world premiere performance of Innerspace by Gothia Concentus conducted by Emanuel Kling from last year.
I was recently commissioned by the Church of Sweden to compose an piece for strings tailored to be the opening music for an All Saints Day concert at the Haga Church in Göteborg, where the main event of the concert was the international premiere of Matthew Coleridge’s beautiful Requiem from 2016. I love when you get such a distinct assignment: you know the purpose of the music. So, in this case I wanted to write a passionate, melodic and beautiful piece that would open the ears and minds of the audience, and while hopefully being emotionally affected by my piece, also prepare for the following program (which also featured pieces by David N. Childs, Max Richter and Richard Strauss).
There is a special reason behind the dedication to maestro John Williams, the composer who ignited my interest in film music. I was not able to attend the premiere of Nostalgia as I finally – for the first time since 1996 – would have the opportunity to see Williams conduct his music live in Europe, at the Musikverein in Vienna with one of the greatest orchestras in the world, the Wiener Philharmoniker. As it turned out, the Williams concert was canceled but on that night, my piece was supposed to have been performed at the very same time as the Williams concert and it simply seemed appropriate to dedicate my string piece, which perhaps is inspired by Williams’ music to a certain extent, to my big hero.
The music was performed beautifully by a group of six players who invested a lot of emotion and careful movement in the piece: David Bergström and Lars Kvensler (violins), Emil Jonasson (viola), Lars-Erik Persson and Christoffer Bergström (celli) and Thomas Allin (contrabass), conducted by Ulrike Heider.
After I had finished writing the piece, I wrote a small poem to accompany the composition:
An outburst of tears,
a reminiscence of beauty,
perhaps… too pathetic a memory?
No, it is not.
Call it what you want.
It is profound.
From darkness again,
light. Always in eternity.
Earlier this year, I traveled with my beloved choir to the International Choral Festival in Cork, Ireland. Such trips always have a team-building quality, but this one was special in the way the choir came together on a purely musical level, in terms of energy. By heart, we sang a slow and hushed hymn by Estonian composer Pärt Uusberg, Meie isa palve, a setting in Estonian of the Lord’s prayer. As we performed this piece many of the choir members had a sensational, “out-of-body” experience, supremely spiritual – one where we touched each others’ souls with our singing, breathing together like one body, sharing several minutes of the most intimate musicality one can imagine. This unforgettable experience inspired me to write a new piece, completely different in style, but with lyrics (that I wrote myself) thanking God for all that the experience of singing can give us. The result is this piece, Gratias Deo, which quickly became a favourite for the choir with a lot of fun passages in alternating 7/8 and 5/8 meters. Here is a recording of the piece performed by Haga Motettkör conducted by Ulrike Heider.
Sometimes social media actually works. A couple of years ago, film composer Boris Elkis (who worked on films such as Riddick, Walking Tall, Aeon Flux and A Perfect Getaway) posted a beautiful, spiritual poem on Facebook called “The Silent Watcher”. The text resonated with me, and I approached Boris to ask for permission to set the text to music, having in mind an a cappella piece for concert and service use. It took some time before I got it right, but the piece was finished last year and finally premiered by the Haga Motettkör conducted by Ulrike Heider in concert on June 17, 2018, in Helsingborg. Here is a recording of the performance and below are the beautiful lyrics by Boris. Thank you for allowing me to set this to music, Boris!
My God, My Love, in me you dwell.
Your love flows from your infinite well.
Help me remember all that I am.
Help me break through illusory dam
We don’t know all of your mysteries.
We dwell within you for all history
I look at the faces of people I know
I know that you’re there behind of it all
The silent watcher who is never asleep
He watches and tends to all of his sheep
He knows all the secrets and holds all the keys
He craves the sweet nectar from all of his bees
He knows all the words before they are sung
He knows all the deeds before they are done
He feels our desires, our pains and regrets
He suffers and pays for all of our debts
No moment goes by when he does not try
To get us to feel his presence up high
To get us to see the beauty within
To hear his whisper pulse through our skin
My Love, My God, to you we’ll return
Your fire’s ablaze and I’m feeling it burn
My Love, My God, in you we will die
So you can take us back to the sky