Book of Prayers · Credit: www.athelas.dk
Two reviews about Book of Prayers, a piece by Niels Rønsholdt which world premiered 7 September 2019 in Christians Kirke by Athelas Sinfonietta and Mogens Dahls Kammerkor.
About Book of Prayers
Book of Prayers is an oratorio for choir and orchestra, but not in the traditional sense. The work is not based on one narrative but is a paraphrase of the genre oratorios and the word 'orare' - to pray. The piece was to be seen as a portrait of the last years of the 80ies, with the dystopia and anger that was replaced by the fall of the Berlin Wall and new hope. The composer expressed in beforehand, that the piece exhibits the literal meaning of the word 'oratorio', looking at the streets as a collective prayer room and the protests as the prayer for a better future. In this way, Book of Prayers is ambiguous, as it praises the human devotion in the prayer and exhibits the thought-provoking in praying instead of taking action.
Read more about Book of Prayers here
The review in Seismograf Magazine
The reviewer of Seismograf Magazine was not pleased about Book of Prayers until the meaning of the piece dawned on him. Book of Prayers had the reviewer confused, as he at first thought, the piece was about the good people of East Germany protesting on the street. Until he realized another meaning hidden in the piece: The critique of praying groups of people - a group which the audience was lured into during the concert.
In this way, the oratorio became a hidden critique of protest movements in general and fixed opinions which are amplified by the group mentality.
"I was caught as an extra among the audience in the singalong, performed in a pathetic archaic, religious language. Rønsholdt obviously did not have a religious aim, but he managed to exhibit the ridiculous in the devotion of the praying people, and as he also managed to exhibit the protest movements as religious".
Read the review here
Review in Kristeligt Dagblad
According to Peter Dürrfeld, Book of Prayers world premiere was a captivating experience. In the description of the piece, he says that composing Niels Rønsholdt has been imaginative and daring.
With a strong and thought awakening paraphrase of the old musical genre, Niels Rønsholdt has succeeded in shedding a light upon an essential political event. And so, the reviewer says, Book of Prayers makes us dive into the unique spirit which dominated back when the parole in DDR resonated: "Wir sind das Volk".
Read the review here