Alfvén, Scriabin, Vaughan Williams, Juon, Mägi, Raff
Bengt Forsberg, Tobias Ringborg, Mats Lidström, Leif Kaner-Lidström, Jakob Högström and more
The concerts are given in Allhelgonakyrkan Thursday 25 August through Saturday 27 August at 18.00 and Sunday 28 August at 14.00. Tickets are sold via ticketmaster.se and about 40 minutes before each concert in the church. Members of KVAH pay SEK 150 per concert, others SEK 200. People under 26 go for free. A festival pass to all four concerts costs SEK 450 for members – four concerts for the price of three. The same rule means that a festival pass for others costs SEK 600.
This year’s festival celebrates 6 anniversaries: Alfvén, Scriabin, Vaughan Williams, Juon, Mägi and Raff. Here' what the program looks like:
Thursday 25 August at 6 pm: Festival opening
Friday 26 August at 6 pm: Song, cello and piano plus a piano trio
Saturday 27 August at 6 pm: Small format but great variety
Sunday 28 August at 2 pm: Great chamber music - in all respects!
Festival - 6 JUBILEES
Every summer we arrange a festival at Allhelgonakyrkan. Bengt Forsberg and his musician friends such as Kati Raitinen, Tobias Ringborg and Cecilia Zilliacus gather during four intense concert days around a theme, which we illuminate through well-known and lesser-known works for solo instruments, duo, trio, quartet and so on. The 2021 festival culminated in Beethoven's septet. This year there will even be a nonet!
In 2022, Sweden celebrates Hugo Alfvén, born on May 1, 1872. Last year we celebrated Wilhelm Stenhammar, born just over a year earlier than Alfvén. He may now be regarded as Sweden's foremost composer, but Alfvén has remained the classical composer whose work has widest popularity. Midsummer vigil can seem calculating in its popular echoes of Swedish folk tone. But it is masterly written in a way that is typical of its time (it came 1903), and together with Zorn's paintings and Karlfeldt's poems it has shaped our image of Sweden in the decades around the year 1900. Fifty years later, Roslagsvår was something as unusual as an international hit song by a classical composer, and for hundreds of thousands of choir singers, Alfvén belongs to the standard repertoire.
While symphony orchestras and choirs celebrate Alfvén this year, we want to complement the image of him with works by his contemporaries. We put him in the context of the music world a hundred years ago. How does he resemble and how does he differ from some selected others, who like Alfvén were born in 1872? In 1922, his Russian coeval Aleksandr Scriabin had been dead for seven years, but especially his late works show currents in early 19th-century music that in an interesting way provide contrasts to Alfvén's national sentiment and somewhat pretentious striving to establish himself as a great and learned composer. Britain's Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Englishness" can be reminiscent of Alfvén's Swedishness, including how some of his works build on folk tunes. But he drew different conclusions than the Swede and continued to be productive until old age, while Alfvén over the years had difficulty creating something new. (Vaughan Williams died 1958.)
When Alfvén and VW (as contemporary Englishmen abbreviated his name) established themselves at the end of the 19th century, neither Sweden nor Great Britain were internationally known for their music, unlike Russia whose Tchaikovsky (and several others) wrote works which soon were picked up by concert organisers all over the world – faithful to established formats but with a distinctive national character. Maybe this gave Scriabin the freedom to go his own, more international ways?
The balance between the national and the global was part of the times of rapid change that Alfvén and his contemporaries lived through, with the First World War as both a caesura and a harbinger of new times. Symbolism, the dissolution of established truths in art, music, literature and theatre, new communications and technologies all meant that the social classes who dominated cultural life saw themselves as Modern. It resembles how our generation a hundred years later has talked about globalization and followed trends that spread between continents. A fourth composer born in 1872 seems to have been such a cosmopolitan: Paul Juon. Born of Swiss immigrants in Tsarist Russia, he became an influential music professor in Berlin in the 1920s and then moved "home" to his ancestral Switzerland, where he had never lived during his active life.
Which composers did these four have to relate to, and can we trace common influences? Turn-of-the-century trends around the year 1900 included both the emphasis on domestic roots that we find in Alfvén and Zorn, and the mystic visions of Scriabin or Hilma af Klint. Juon was a skilled teacher of counterpoint and age-old music formats, Alfvén director musices at Uppsala University – how did their formal knowledge impact how they absorbed such contemporary trends?
Musical life during the entire 20th century has its roots in the years around World War 1. Therefore, our festival combines music of the four who were born in 1872 with one older and one composer, whose 200th and 100th anniversaries we can celebrate this year.
Our senior born in 1822 we rarely meet nowadays: Swiss-German Joachim Raff. He was highly esteemed by his contemporaries as a symphonist and educator. Around 1880 it was said that all experts would agree that Wagner, Brahms and Raff were the leading German composers. Although all Raff’s eleven symphonies are now on CDs few would agree now, and instead it is Anton Bruckner's eleven symphonies which are constantly played. But Raff was the one favoured in the late 19th century, and his music can therefore represent much of what our 1872-born composers took for granted but wanted away from. In his encyclopedia from 1916, Tobias Norlind wrote about Raff that “his works were performed in all major music centres during the 80s, some with exceptional success. This great popularity, however, diminished rather rapidly, and his works are now seldom given and have proved unattractive to a contemporary audience”. In his symphonies, everything seems "too empty and old-fashioned", while he has succeeded better in songs, piano pieces and chamber music.
So the compositions by Raff that we hear during the festival show something about how music "should" be when our "men of 1872" grew up and started writing music around 1890. Raff had then died already in 1882. Probably this was true of Alfvén’s Stockholm or VW's London, while Scriabin and Juon in St. Petersburg also had Russian role models such as Tchaikovsky or the "innovators" in the circle around Balakirev. Outside Russia, these were relatively unknown until the mid-1890s.
We also let our four 1872 composers be accompanied by a younger one. To continue the anniversary theme, we chose the Estonian Ester Mägi, born in 1922. She also featured in our 2019 festival with only female composers and died as late as last year, 99 years old. Her presence at this year's festival will thus also be a tribute to her memory. She took inspiration from Estonian folk music, and her long life in the Soviet Republic of Estonia and later in the free Estonia can be seen as a balancing act between national, traditional forms and modernity. For thirty years she taught composition, and we are curious about how her work as her country's leading composer was marked by the break between tendencies that we see in the four 1872 composers who were the starting point for our 2022 festival. Do we see threads from Scriabin's Russian mysticism, Juon's more conservative tonal language, Alfvén's and Vaughan Williams' nationalism – and perhaps the passion of Alfvén and Scriabin? Over the years, Mägi came to be perceived as the nestor among Estonian composers, not only among the few women.
The turning point a hundred years ago not only gave us Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, neoclassicism and dodecaphony. We hope our selection will illustrate connections and trends that are at least as interesting as these as a backdrop for the leading Swedish composer we celebrate this year: Hugo Alfvén. And also provide examples of how musical legacies are passed on, knowingly or unknowingly.
Jonathan Bauer , bassoon, was born in 2001 and completed his bachelor's studies at the Royal Academy of Music in May with a graduation concert. His bassoon teachers there have been Fredrik Ekdahl and Henrik Blixt. Both parents are classical musicians, so Jonathan got to meet that music very early. The bassoon attracted, he appreciated a little darker sounding wind instruments and the choice was easy. Jonathan's most recent appearance in KVAH's music program was during the 2021 festival Beethoven Variations.
Charles DeRamus , double bass, is the principal bassoonist of the Royal Court Chapel. He teaches at the University of Stage and Music at the University of Gothenburg, and performs annually at the Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming, USA. Charles has previously played in the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, been vocalist at the Norrland Opera, and has been a frequent guest in the same position in several Scandinavian orchestras. Charles is originally from the United States and has performed, made recordings and toured with leading orchestras and participated in major festivals around the world. He has led masterclasses in a wide range of countries including Japan, China and the United States. Charles has also created concerts for children that have attracted international attention, such as Greta´s Dream for double bass quartet and narrator.
Bengt Forsberg, piano, is one of Sweden's foremost pianists with many lesser-known but demanding composers in his repertoire. Bengt is active both as a soloist and an accompanist, in Sweden and abroad. He has recorded numerous CDs, not least with Anne Sofie von Otter, several of which have received major international awards such as Grammies and Gramophone's Recording of the Year. Together with Cecilia Zilliacus, Bengt has also released a number of important recordings, for example of Amanda Maier's music. His acclaimed CD Neglected works for piano presents a wide range of other undeservedly hidden female composers, such as Amy Beach, Ruth Sofia Almén, Grażyna Bacewicz and Valborg Aulin. So far in 2022, Bengt has already given concerts in Krakow, Paris and London. Bengt is KVAH's artistic director and has been responsible for chamber music in Allhelgonakyrkan for more than 30 years.
Jakob Högström, baritone, was born in 1974 and educated at Kulturama, the Royal Academy of Music in London and at the Opera Academy in Stockholm. He is a coveted baritone in the lyrical profession, with roles such as Papageno in The Magic Flute at Drottningholms Slottsteater, Baines in the opera William by B Tommy Andersson at Vadstena Academy and Baron Zeta in Suzanne Osten's production of The Merry Widow. In 2009 he debuted at the Opéra Comique in Paris as Narbanor in Zoroastre. Jakob often performs sacred repertoire, as in Handel's Messiah and Bach's passions. At Malmö Opera he has sung Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Mr Snipa in Jonas Forssell's Träskoprinsessan, Dandini in La Cenerentola, The Messenger in Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex and Spalatin and Bucer in Bo Holten's opera about Luther Schlagt sie tot!. The list is much longer and constantly growing. Jakob's most recent appearance in KVAH was during the 2021 festival Beethoven Variations.
Jens-Christoph Lemke , bassoon, has been the principal bassoonist of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra since 1988 and previously of the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Chapel in Copenhagen. With the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, he has performed Richard Strauss' Duett Concerto, Gubajdulina's Bassoon Concerto and on several occasions Mozart's Bassoon Concerto. He is a member of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's Wind Quintet and has made several CDs with them. Jens also appreciates baroque instruments and has played in the Drottningholmsteatern's orchestra, Rebaroque, the Swedish Baroque Orchestra and Drottningholm's Baroque Ensemble and more. He is a member of the Orpheus Baroque Ensemble and teaches at the RSPO Orchestra Acadademy, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's International Orchestra Academy. As a guest teacher, he has taught at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm and at MMCK in Japan. He is also active as a chamber musician.
Mats Lidström , cello, teaches at the Royal Academy of Music in London and is affiliated with Oxford University as a solo cellist in the Oxford Philharmonic & Soloists. His cello is the one used in the 1898 premiere of Richard Strauss' Don Quixote. Mats has performed as a soloist with a long line of the world's foremost orchestras and with leading chamber ensembles and chamber musicians. He has made recordings on record companies such as DG, Decca, Hyperion and BIS and more. In April this year, the debut album together with his son, Leif Kaner-Lidström, was recorded. Mats publishes at CelloLid, his own compositions, transcripts and educational materials that he uses in his teaching. Among the latest works for cello and orchestra are Rigoletto Fantasy, dedicated to Mats Rondin, and Puccini Fantasy dedicated to Lynn Harrell. Among Mats' teachers over the years are legends such as Leonard Rose (at The Juilliard School), Pierre Fournier, Janos Starker, William Pleeth and Lynn Harrell.
Walter McTigert , double bass, grew up in San Francisco and started playing bass when he was 15 years old. He has studied at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore and the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo. After permanent employment with the Symphony Orchestra in Trondheim and at the Norwegian Opera in Oslo, Walter has been employed by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2009. He most recently participated in KVAH's music program during the 2021 festival Beethoven Variations.
Kristian Möller , clarinet, studied for Sölve Kingstedt and Hermann Stefánsson at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, and has also been a student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and the Bloomington School of Music in Indiana, USA. As Swedish Radio P2's Artist in Residence, he recorded for a few years a large part of the repertoire for clarinet and piano for P2. Since 2006, he has been concertmaster in the Army Music Corps. Kristian is active as a soloist and chamber musician, and among other things a member of KammarensembleN which he has worked with since 2008. He has been a soloist with, among others, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra, Musica Vitae and Uppsala Chamber Soloists, and has recorded records with Johan Ullén and the New Stenhammar Quartet.
Chris Parkes, horn, has been a solo hornist in the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2010 after a couple of years on the same post in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London. He has also played first horn or performed as a soloist with a number of other leading orchestras. As a chamber musician, he has worked with artists such as Anne Sofie von Otter, Ian Bostridge or Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and with ensembles such as Stockholm Syndrome and Fine Arts Brass. Chris also appears on records with, for example, Paul McCartney or in soundtracks such as the Lord of the Rings movies. Since 2012, he has been teaching at his own old university, the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London.
Kati Raitinen, cello, was educated at the Sibelius Academy for Martti Rousi and at Edsberg for Frans Helmerson. She has long been a solo cellist in the orchestra of the Stockholm Royal Opera, and also performs as a soloist around Sweden and internationally. Chamber music is important to Kati. She is one of the founders of the internationally acclaimed trio ZilliacusPerssonRaitinen, and a driving force behind the chamber music series "Finally Monday" in Stockholm Concert Hall. Kati is also a diligent chamber musician in other constellations, not least together with Bengt Forsberg. She performed in KVAH as recently as May 2022.
Tobias Ringborg, violin, has established himself as a conductor, soloist and chamber musician. As a violinist, he studied at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm and The Juilliard School in New York. In 2000, Tobias began a career as a conductor, often in the dual role of soloist and conductor. For more than ten years, he has expanded to opera directing, with acclaimed performances in Europe, New Zealand and Australia. This spring he toured the UK with the Welsh National Opera and this summer led the famous The English Concert in Mozart's Così fan tutte. As a violin soloist, Tobias has played around Europe and the United States. His discography is extensive and very multifaceted, with a number of important recordings of undeservedly overlooked musicsuch as last year’s Helena Munktell Violin Sonata and Kleines Trio released by BIS. Tobias has often played in Allhelgonakyrkan, most recently during the 2021 Beethoven Variations festival.
Bengt Rosengren, oboe, is a principal in the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Of course, he has also been a soloist with them, for example in Mozart's, Richard Strauss's or Bohuslav Martin's oboe concertos. He was also the solo oboist in Stockholm's New Chamber Orchestra until it was disolved in 2019, and on several occasions performed with them as an acclaimed soloist, for instance in Arne Nordheim's oboe concerto Boomerang in New York. Bengt is a prolific chamber musician and formed the Amadé Quintet in 2003 together with four other principals in the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He is the head teacher of oboe at the Royal Academy of Music, where he also teaches chamber music and orchestral playing.
Cecilia Zilliacus, violin, received her education in Stockholm and Cologne. She is one of Sweden's foremost violinists, with the Nordic countries and Europe as her field of work. Cecilia is a professor of violin at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, and artistic director of both Katrina Chamber Music on Åland and the Korsholm Music Festival in Finland. She is happy to collaborate across genres – from Europe's most prominent orchestras, conductors and composers to jazz musicians, folk musicians and singer-songwriters. In 1999, she was one of the founders of the internationally successful trio ZilliacusPerssonRaitinen. Cecilia has made a number of recordings, not least with Bengt Forsberg. Her third CD with music by Amanda Maier, together with Kati Raitinen and Bengt Forsberg, received the Classic Grammy of the Year 2019. The following year, she and Bengt released Swedish Violin Treasures, with works by Munktell, Haquinius, Fryklöf and Peyron. Cecilia has performed many times in KVAH's music program, most recently in May 2022.
Ylvali Zilliacus-McTigert, viola, has studied in London and Berlin. In 2004, she formed the Lendvai String Trio with Nadia Wijzenbeek and Marie Macleod. Since their debut at Wigmore Hall, the trio has performed at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, King’s Place and Purcell Room in London and at Musikaliska in Stockholm. Ylvali has been a principal in the time-honoured ensemble English Concert (2003-2007) under the direction of Andrew Manze. From 2009 to 2013, she was a principal in Musica Vitae in Växjö, with whom she often appeared as a soloist both in Sweden and abroad. She is part of the Uppsala Chamber Soloists and has played with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. With the Zilliacus Quartet and saxophonist Fredrik Lindeborg's trio she toured with Lars Gullin's music. Her most recent appearance in KVAH's music program was during the 2021 festival Beethoven Variations.