“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 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

I had a blast composing my first all-orchestral piece – Innerspace – earlier this year, and it was a thrill to hear the premiere performance by the talented Gothia Concentus, the largest amateur orchestra in Sweden. The piece was commissioned by the orchestra as an original companion piece to the many different science fiction film, television and videogame music selections featured in their 2017-2018 project devoted to the sci-fi genre. Obviously, I was inspired by the idea behind the movie of the same title, and even more the amazing 1960s movie Fantastic Voyage, and took the opportunity to write an entertaining and adventurous work with a little dash of modernism. Here is a recording of the piece from the world premiere that took place in May in Kungsbacka, Sweden. Special thanks to conductor Emanuel Kling who did a great job bringing the piece to life!

The wonderful Caritas Chamber Choir of Canterbury, England, have released their first album and I am one of the composers who are honoured to have been included in their selection of contemporary pieces featured. Under the direction of Benedict Preece, the choir recorded my Alleluia, which I composed for the 2016 collaboration between Caritas Chamber Choir and Haga Motettkör in 2016. Here is the recording on Spotify!

I have finally decided to do what I see many other composers doing as well these days, in this modern world: publish my own works! All of my works that are not already published by one of the traditional publishing companies I’ve been fortunate to work with (Santa Barbara Music Publishing and Bo Ejeby Förlag), will be available for purchase and instant download from Sheet Music Plus, beginning with my H.P. Lovecraft setting Rhyme of Polaris for SATB divisi choir a cappella. Links to the works available from Sheet Music Plus will be placed on the ‘Concert Works’ page for your reference.

Among the work that will follow in the catalogue of Carlssons Kluster (the in-joke name of my publishing arm, a joke only Swedish people will get) in the next couple of months are:

• Three Shakespeare Nocturnes (SATB/piano)
• The Lord Is My Shepherd (SSAA)
• Te Deum (SATB/orchestra)
• Antiphonae Intrvallum (SATB)
• O Sacrum Convivium (SATB)

The sheet music that is available for purchase is now featured on this page!

Innerspace was commissioned by the Gothenburg orchestra Gothia Concentus for their science fiction-themed project and will be premiered in concert conducted by Emanuel Kling on May 12, 2018. The orchestra is known for their inventive programs which combine a lot of film and videogame music with classical pieces. For their sci-fi concert, I had an idea to create a new piece that would work as a stand-alone concert piece while also working in the largely cinematic context of the program. Obviously inspired by the film of the same title, Innerspace, is an adventurous and fun piece which is very much a love letter to many of the sci-fi film composers we all love and admire. While I have written music for orchestra before, those pieces have been primarily choral in nature. Innerspace is my first all-orchestral piece – and, needless to say, I’m really excited!

Here is the recording from the premiere performance of my setting of the Christmas gospel, Julevangeliet for SATB, reciter and string quartet. This was performed by Hedvig Eriksson (soprano), Amanda Flodin (alto), Mikael Englund (tenor) and Karl Peter Eriksson (bass) together with the Wulfson Quartet, conducted by Ulrike Heider and with myself reading underscored scripture at the Haga Church, Göteborg, on December 22. The 45 minute 12-movement work was commissioned by the Church of Sweden and was inspired by the traditional English Nine Lessons and Carols.