“A celebration of joy” is how Rolf Wallin describes his latest work, Spirit, to be premiered by the London Sinfonietta conducted by Pierre-André Valade at Bergen International Festival this week.
The piece has been inspired by its soloist, the Danish bass guitarist Ida Nielsen, a former band member with Prince. “When Ida started to play, I felt like I was five again and listening to the Beatles for the first time,” says Wallin. The pair worked together closely in the creation of the piece, exploring slap-hand and other guitar techniques to capture the spontaneity and exhilaration of Nielsen’s performances in a virtuoso work for large forces.
But there is also a darker side to the piece’s genesis. In his program note, the composer questions the act of writing such overtly joyful music in an age of extreme political turbulence and environmental uncertainty. He quotes Bernstein who, following the assassination of President Kennedy urged people “to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before”. Inspired by this sentiment, Wallin’s new work is a contribution in the same spirit – “of sharing, empowering and becoming strong, but not hardened during hard times”.
Spirit was commissioned by the London Sinfonietta and the Bergen International Festival, with funding from The Norwegian Composers' Fund.
For more visit: Ida Nielsen