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Coming months bring the world premiere in Canada of Kim André Arnesen’s latest nature-inspired work, Bird and Rainfall, and the UK premiere of The Stranger, surveying themes of human migration displacement, at the Brighton Festival in the UK.

Norwegian composer Kim André Arnesen is known for his mastery of choral music. His diverse repertoire ranges from short motets, through traditional Norwegian carols, to a large-scale mass, all characterised by their emotional depth, rich harmonies, and distinctive lyrical melodies.

Arnesen’s latest work Bird and Rainfall will receive its world premiere with the Mississauga Festival Choir in Canada on 4 May as part of its 40th anniversary celebrations at the city’s Living Arts Center. With a text by Euan Tait, the 10-minute work for SATB chorus and orchestra explores nature themes in Arnesen’s distinctive style.

Arnesen says: “I'm truly excited to share Bird and Rainfall, a piece exploring the theme of identity through the lens of nature. Using images of birds flying and rain falling, the work reflects on the question, 'How does what we sing influence who we are, and how does who we are influence what we sing? The music moves from joyful, lively sections to soaring melodies, ending with a grand tune influenced by folk music traditions. A special feature of Bird and Rainfall is the invented language added to Euan Tait's lyrics. While inspired by the joik tradition of the Sami people, it is meant to be universal and not specific to any single culture. It underscores the idea that music connects us all despite our different backgrounds. I hope to offer listeners a moment to reflect on their place in the world and the power of their voices.”

> Mississauga Festival Choir

Later in May, the Brighton Festival Chorus gives the UK premiere of Kim André Arnesen's The Stranger at the Brighton Festival with conductor James Morgan and Chamber Domaine. The world premiere opened the 2022 Olavsfest in Trondheim, at the Nidaros Cathedral, where Arnesen sang as a boy chorister.

Arnesen’s The Stranger delves into the theme of refugees, weaving together sacred and secular texts to explore their experiences of displacement and resilience. Through a blend of musical styles drawn from various traditions, Arnesen crafts a composition that reflects the universal human connection amidst cultural diversity.

Arnesen says: “The Stranger is a work that resonates deeply with our current global context, exploring the theme of refugees and their experiences. In creating this work, I chose a musical language that resonates with this theme. The work isn't confined to a classical tradition alone but incorporates elements from a variety of musical genres and traditions, symbolizing the very connection the text speaks of. It is my attempt to musically echo the text's message that if we just dare to see, we aren't so different, and we share the same dreams. When the text tried to connect us, I had to try to do the same with the music. It was an honour to premiere this piece at the historic Nidaros Cathedral, a place that shaped my musical upbringing. The UK premiere at the Brighton Festival, known for its dynamic and diverse programming, is a wonderful opportunity to further share this important message.”

> Brighton Festival

In addition to Kim André Arnesen's upcoming premieres, his existing choral works offer valuable options for programming. The Stabat Mater, first performed by the Haderslev Cathedral Girls' Choir in Denmark, is now available in multiple versions, providing flexibility for different ensembles. Whether performed in its original SSAA format with organ accompaniment or with a chamber orchestra accommodating both SSAA and SATB options, Arnesen's interpretation of the Stabat Mater text brings depth to any Passiontide concert.
> Listen to the original SSAA version
> Explore the new SSAA vocal score
> Explore orchestral hire parts

Arnesen's Holy Spirit Mass, commissioned for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, presents a fusion of traditional Mass texts in Latin and historical hymns in English translations. Scored for SATB chorus, piano and strings, the 45-minute mass, is very accessible to choruses of mixed abilities and offers a compelling message of hope.

> Arnesen breaks down his Holy Spirit Mass

>  Further information on Work: Bird and Rainfall

Photo: Ole Wuttudal

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