How many strings on your violin?

How many strings do you need for a university gala concert? We don’t know, but together the Linköping University Male Voice Choir, the Linköping University Symphony Orchestra and the soloists who have been engaged will surely have enough this year. They will mix Nordic mood music, South America rumba and sparkling Russian tones at the University Gala Concert to be held on 25 May.

Ensembles on stage

The Commencement Celebrations will begin in 2018, as tradition demands, with the University Gala Concert, this year for the 41st time.

Two of the university ensembles are participating, the Linköping University Male Voice Choir and the Linköping University Symphony Orchestra, LAO. This means that over a hundred song artists and musicians will be on stage at Missionskyrkan during the concert on 25 May at 7.00 pm.

The concert this year presents music from three centuries, and
we are convinced that it will be a memory to treasure.
One of the highlights the audience will experience is saxophonist Noah Hofvander, only 14 years old, and his remarkable technical expertise and emotional rendition, playing together with the LAO.

Merete EllegaardMerete Ellegaard Photo credit: Peter Holgersson ABHow do you put together a concert programme?
“You have to weigh in many factors,” says Merete Ellegaard, conductor of the LAO. Together with Christina Hörnell, director musices at LiU and conductor of the Linköping University Male Voice Choir, she has collected music that is ideally suited to the University Gala Concert.
“We wanted a broad programme. Put in some Swedish pieces, mix old music with 20th century composers and contemporary music. And we wanted to give a prominent place to female composers,” says Merete Ellegaard.

Another important consideration was the capacity of the ensembles.
“Of course, we must look after them. So the level of complexity must be just on this side of difficult,” says Merete Ellegaard.

Joy, joy, the beauty of heavenly fire!
The student choir will open the concert with August Söderman’s setting of the famous Ode to Joy, written by 18th century poet Friedrich von Schiller. This 200-year-old text remains thought-provoking even today: With your hand you hold the world/which by discord has been rent/and you bring all men to brotherhood/

Christina HörnellChristina Hörnell Photo credit: Peter Holgersson ABAugust Söderman set von Schiller’s Ode to Joy to music in 1859.
“It turned out that the only part preserved was a hand-written set for the voice,” Christina Hörnell informs us.
Music at Linköping University set out to recreate a complete score, and this means that the piece can be played at the concert.
And what could be more suitable as an introduction to this year’s Commencement Celebrations than Schiller’s poetic image:
Cups of boundless joy.

The next piece on the programme is a strong contrast with Söderman’s Nordic tones. After the first performance of his work Scaramoche in 1937, French composer Darius Milhaud was convinced that the piece didn’t have a future. He even declined the opportunity of having the score printed.
He couldn’t have been more wrong!
The LAO is now to perform Scaramouche, with the young soloist Noah Hofvander on the alto saxophone.
“The timbre of the first movement has been compared with an out-of-tune street piano in Paris,” claims Christina Hörnell in the programme notes. While Noah Hofvander, who will be demonstrating a mixture of playing techniques, himself describes the music of the movement as, well, “a bit out of control”. The imposing final movement shows clearly how Milhaud was influenced by south american music when composing Scaramouche.

Kören Linköpings studentsångare sjunger Photo credit: Daniel HaggmyrComposer Cecilia Damström, from the Swedish-speaking population of Finland, was awarded first prize in the Linköping student choir Composition Award in 2016, which had inspired several female composers to write choral music for male voice choirs.
In her understated piece At Teasdale’s, Cecilia Damström uses three movements to give music expression to American poet Sara Teasdale’s poetry of the sea, the night and love.
The citation for the prize describes how Cecilia Damström “preserves the vast range of timbre of the male voice choir and its opportunities for variation with a significant feeling for the performance of the male voice”.

Colourful and sparkling Russian music, in the form of three movements from Peter Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, is the next programme item.
The Linköping University Symphony Orchestra started to work with the piece as early as last autumn, and has given it at a concert in Norrköping. Now the turn has come to Linköping.
The fourth symphony had its first performance in 1879 and was Tchaikovsky’s way of composing himself out of a period of deep depression and despair.

Orchestra Photo credit: Peter Holgersson ABThe concert will end with a flavour of national romance, with all song artists and musicians on stage – over 100 artists. Together with baritone Hans Klareskog, they bring the audience home from Russia to the Nordic region and the Norse history of Olav Tryggvason.
Edvard Grieg put Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s poem “Landkjænning” to music in 1872, at a time when Norway was eager to break out of the union with Sweden that had been forced on it.

“In musical meetings we share feelings and we create common values that do not depend on gender, class, race, religion or class,” writes Christina Hörnell in her preface to the 2018 University Gala Concert.

And this is true also of the academic research that will be celebrated during the Commencement Ceremony.

The concert will be produced by Music at Linköping University.

Translation: George Farrants

Information about tickets for employees and students at:
The Linköping University Symphony Orchestra:
Linköping University Male Voice Choir: