I am currently composing a setting of the seven Magnificat antiphons – a text which has been beautifully set to music before by composers such as Pawel Lukaszewski and Arvo Pärt. My suite is for a cappella choir and I believe the approach is unusually ‘technical’ for me: I have the idea to center each and one of the seven small pieces around a specific interval (as there are seven intervals on a major scale), so the first ‘O Sapientia’ will explore the major second and the last ‘O Emmanuel’ the perfect octave. The Antiphonae Intervallum will be premiered by the Haga Motettkör conducted by Ulrike Heider in service at the Haga Church, Göteborg, on December 14.
As a gift to the organizers behind the International Film Music Festival in Córdoba, Spain, – BSO Spirit – I wrote this little orchestral fanfare to celebrate their 10th anniversary. I am involved in the festival producing three symphonic concerts there on an annual basis. Incorporating themes from RoboCop by Basil Poledouris was my way to emphasize the “roots” of the special festival spirit, to which Poledouris contributed a considerable amount of heart and bravery when participating in one of the festival’s first editions in the midst of battling cancer. The fanfare was performed as the concert opener for our gala concert “Best of Film Music 2013-2014/A Tribute to Jerry Goldsmith” (which I also produced). This is the Orquesta de Córdoba conducted by Juan Manuel Parra. Had a lot of fun doing it and would certainly love to write more music for orchestra…[audio:http://mikaelcarlsson.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/fanfareforcordoba.mp3|titles=Fanfare for Córdoba (Orquesta de Córdoba/Juan Manuel Parra, conductor)]
My fourth piece to be published by Santa Barbara Music Publishing in Florida, USA, is now available: Song of Faith, which is based on a text from Micah 7:7-8. The piece was commissioned by the Haga Church, Göteborg, to be performed in service and the text was in fact the same as one of the readings for this particular Sunday (the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, also known as Candlemass or, in Swedish, Kyndelsmässodagen). It’s a a really beautiful text which lended itself very well to a musical setting emphasizing the strong message of faith. The recording below is from the premiere performance by the Haga Motettkör conducted by Ulrike Heider during the above mentioned service.[audio:http://moviescoremedia.com/mikaelcarlsson_choralmusic/songoffaith.mp3|titles=Song of Faith (Haga Motettkör/Ulrike Heider)]
The Haga Motettkör premiered my composition “What Is God?” during the 8th World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia, in July. The piece, which is combining shimmering harmonies with swiftly moving passages of ambivalent ostinati and quasi-bitonal statements, was commissioned to be premiered in the Contemporary Music section and was the piece that received the highest jury points among the pieces that were performed by the choir. I have to admit being humbled by the fact that the jury consisted of several of my heroes… Vytautas Miskinis and Javier Busto, to name two of them. The piece sets a text by Eckhart Tolle to music and is, in terms of the actual performance, one of the more demanding choral compositions I have written so far.
My setting of Ave Maria – possibly the most popular sacred text ever judging from the number of existing compositions based on these beautiful lyrics – was premiered by the Haga Motettkör conducted by Ulrike Heider in service at the Haga Church, Göteborg, in March. This one actually replaces an earlier Ave Maria I had composed in 2007 but was never really happy with. The new one came to me much more naturally and has a theme and flow that is uncomplicated and, hopefully, unpretentious. I can’t think of anything more wrong than doing being too pretentious with this text. It should just be natural, like the piece always existed and just had to be written down.[audio:http://moviescoremedia.com/mikaelcarlsson_choralmusic/avemaria.mp3|titles=Ave Maria (Haga Motettkör/Ulrike Heider)]
I am excited to have accepted a commission from the Haga parish of the Swedish Church in Gothenburg to compose original choral music to be used in service throughout 2014. The music will be performed by the Haga Motettkör and the motets will be designed to illustrate the evangelic focus of four specific Sundays. I have already began work on two major a cappella works, Ave Maria and Ubi Caritas. More updates to come!
Johannebergs Vokalensemble recently premiered my most recent choral piece, “Nu öppnar nattglim sin krona” based on a beautiful poem by Eric Axel Karlfeldt. The piece sets the colourful poem to music written in a style that in some ways pays homage to the neo-romantic Swedish tradition of choral writing, but still with a dash of modern aesthetics. The structure of the piece centers on a development in the arrangement going from 4 part, via 6 part to the final 8 part divisi. This is a piece that would benefit from being performed by a larger choral ensemble – the recording below is only 11 voices, but still very happy with the way it turned out.[audio:http://moviescoremedia.com/jove/sommarnatter/11_nattglim.mp3|titles=Nu öppnar nattglim sin krona (Johannebergs Vokalensemble/Jan K. Delemark)]
I am now married to my beautiful Lina, and the wedding was wonderful and – of course – featured some choral music. We’re both choir geeks and met each other as singers in the Haga Motettkör, so having our friends of this choir being there and perform Maurice Duruflé’s Ubi caritas as well as my own arrangement of the classic Swedish summer psalm Den blomstertid nu kommer was almost a given. In addition to this, I had made a choral arrangement of Över brudfolk, a song originally written by Lina’s grandfather Gustaf Bjarnegård based on an old composition by Johan Helmich Roman. Gustaf was an accomplished and prolific composer, organist and priest, and this piece has been performed during many Bjarnegård weddings – a wonderful tradition which we carried forward giving it our own little touch.
Below is a recording of the Haga Motettkör performing Den blomstertid nu kommer. The piece is dedicated to the love of my life.[audio:http://moviescoremedia.com/mikaelcarlsson_choralmusic/denblomstertidnukommer.mp3|titles=Den blomstertid nu kommer (Haga Motettkör/Ulrike Heider]
I am very happy to announce that my a cappella piece, Pater Noster, is now available from Bo Ejeby Förlag, who describes the composition as “a sonorous piece, in the mood of composers like Eric Whitacre or Morten Lauridsen”.
To me, writing choral music has been a very important way to channel my own thoughts and feelings towards God, faith and religion. My setting of “Pater Noster”, hopefully, illustrates a sense of being safe in the hands of the lord, and being comfortable, maybe even relaxed in your faith. The piece is in A-B-A form based on an warm and simple hymn, a more prayer-like mid section and with a very beautiful and shimmering cluster during the final ‘Amen’ leading the way to a hushed and trustful ending in Db major.[audio:http://www.moviescoremedia.com/hmk/paternoster.mp3|titles=Pater Noster (Haga Motettkör/Ulrike Heider)]
Two of my choral works, “O Magnum Mysterium” and “I Am Your Sunlight” (lyrics by Janet Jackson), are now available from Santa Barbara Music Publishing! I am very proud to be a composer in such amazing company, with other of their published composers being among my very own “choral heroes”: Eric Whitacre, Joshua Shank, David N. Childs, René Clausen, Javier Busto, Vytautas Miskinis… Both of my works are considered to be “level: difficult” and in their virtuoso catalogue. Don’t let that scare you, I can sing them myself so they can’t be too tricky…
On “O Magnum Mysterium”, SBMP writes: “This piece is best described as “Wow.” It is highly recommended for the mature choir and for a favorable acoustic setting.”
Another of my sacred pieces, “Agnus Dei“, was released last year by SBMP.