"War Requiem deals with war from a universal perspective - it is about all wars throughout history," Steingrímur Rohloff explains and adds that most people will probably interpret the work as completely current because, during the compositional process, the subject became eerily present again given Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The hour-long work is based on texts by the playwright Bent Nørgaard and revolves around five archetypes in a time of war: The Warrior, The Child, The Veteran, The Comforter and The Mother - Human roles we are now once again confronted with daily.
Steingrímur Rohloff says that it has been an almost unbearable story to take in, and he, therefore, had to find his own way into the work. He grew up in Germany with the ever-present awareness of Second World War, where his father fled his home in East Prussia as an 11-year old boy. In the composition process, the composer's personal references was therefore inevitably brought into play.
The power of musical extremes
Steingrímur Rohloff has a special way of working with the power of musical extremes and the fabulous possibilities of melodies and harmonies. His music often carries deep and dark stories, and it has been an ambivalent situation to write music with an ongoing war as a painful backdrop. "As is often the case in my music, the light and the dark are closely connected," says Rohloff, and emphasizes that something interesting happens when the music does not necessarily directly illustrate the text, as one might expect. Thus, the Warrior has some beautiful lyrical parts, which give him a poisonous, seductive expression. The mother, who has lost her son in the war, on the other hand, has a harsher expression that supports the text:
Steingrímur Rohloff describes War Requiem as a journey that takes us deeper and deeper into darkness, but nevertheless allows the work to end with a glimmer of light. "It ends with a small, almost unrecognizable Bach pastiche. This is the music I grew up with, and it represents a tenuous hope for the future," says Rohloff, pointing out that he has dedicated the work to art and to our children as a wish that the two must always have each other.
War Requiem is written for five vocal soloists, choir, orchestra and electronic sounds, and will be premiered on 4 May at 19:30 by Odense Symphony Orchestra with soloists Henriette Bonde-Hansen, Andrea Pellegrini, Magnus Vigilius, Johannes Held, the Danish National Operas Choir and conductor Christopher Lichtenstein.
Find more information about the concert here.