The Redemption – Vagn Holmboe

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  • 19.00: Introduction by Thomas Michelsen (In danish)

Vagn Holmboe:

  • Song at Sunset opus 138b for choir (1978)
  • Ode til Sjælen opus 161 for choir, brass sixtet (two trumpets, two horns, bassoon and tuba) and organ (1985)
  • Dirge, opus 110a for choir, A Border Ballad (1973)
  • Die Erfüllung opus 183 for choir, solo soprano, solo baritone and horns: flute, oboe, clarinet, fagotto, two trumpets, bassoon and tuba  (1990/1993)
  • Solhymne opus 77 for choir (1960)

At this year’s All Saints’ Concert, Mogens Dahl Chamber Choir wishes to honor one of Danish music’s truly great composers: Vagn Holmboe. Outwardly, Vagn Holmboe maintained a low profile, but inwardly and in his music, he was guided throughout his life by spiritual thoughts about music as a manifestation of something cosmic. Nothing less. That’s why he seized the opportunity when the Rudolf Steiner movement asked him to compose a piece set to the texts of the romantic mystic and poet Novails. The work became ‘Die Erfüllung,’ which had its premiere in Steiner circles but, despite being one of Holmboe’s major works and a core piece in his production, has never been performed or recorded otherwise.

In Johannes Ewald’s poem “Ode to the Soul,” the lost human soul and religious salvation are sung as the only possible hope in Holmboe’s composition for brass instruments, organ, vocal soloists, and choir. The rest of the concert program also reflects the spiritual aspects of Holmboe’s art and worldview, with a focus on the cyclical nature of reincarnation, which governed his perspective on composing cosmic music, as he called it. The sunset is found in the ancient Egyptian “Hymn to the Sun,” which describes the sun’s journey from sunrise to sunset until the new sunrise – and, of course, in “Song of Sunset” with text by Walt Whitman.

All in all, with this concert, we aim to provide a new insight into the core of Holmboe’s perspective on what music was and what music could be: namely, to offer humans insight into the cosmic or higher order, as he also referred to it in his private diary – just as Thomas Michelsen, using previously unpublished sources such as Holmboe’s diaries, has elucidated in his biography of the composer, ‘The Deep and the Pure.’

Photo: Hans Skaarup