Oscar winner & Mozart - More about tonight's program

"A dream machine for the ears"
The sounds in the Italian composer Caterina Barbieri's work, Knot of Spirit, throw the listener straight into a hallucinatory kaleidoscope. In the music, Barbieri blends fragments from synth music with idiosyncratic musical patterns that are often repeated in loops. Time seems to both accelerate and slow down like in a trance. Caterina Barbieri, born in 1990, has spent nearly a decade exploring the boundaries and intersections of music, technology, and human perception. Critics have described her music as "a mind-expanding journey" and her work as "a dream machine for the ears." She herself has said that she is driven by an ambition to unite the physical world with the metaphysical – the material with the immaterial.

A journey through the elements
In the light of Barbieri's dreamlike soundscape, Rachel Portman's Tipping Points emerges with sharp contours of reality. Many recognize Portman's music from films such as The Cider House Rules, Chocolat, and Emma – captivating compositions that have earned her numerous awards, including an Oscar. Tipping Points revolves around the four classical elements – air, water, fire, and earth. Portman's music is based on six newly written poems by Nick Drake, all addressing climate change.


”I hope the poems can balance between sorrow and agency, fear and wonder, destruction and beauty, collapse and renewal. That they can make the audience realize what has been lost – and see what can still be saved," said Nick Drake.

The piece consists of six movements, one for each element, as well as a prologue and an epilogue, between which the violin runs like a thread. The bright tones of the strings initially evoke the image of a bird flying through a vast sphere. That's how the air sounds: weightless, shimmering, infinite. In the movement depicting water, the music intensifies as the rain hits the earth's surface, giving rise to budding green chlorophyll.

From forest fire to a whispering hope
The contrast becomes sharp between these two movements and the ominous movement about fire. Here, the horror of forest fires resonates. The violin is drowned out by the roar of the fire, and it seems like we are heading towards a charred doomsday.

But even if the doom is irreversible, the last movement – about earth – serves as a hopeful reminder: we are all interconnected with each other and with the earth, and that awareness is the only thing that can save the planet. The work concludes with an epilogue, where the violin plays a prayer to "whisper the forests until they rise again."

Mozart's magnificent melodies
The concert concludes with Mozart's suite Gran Partita, a work filled with magnificent melodies, clever instrumentation, and mystique. Mozart himself never used the name Gran Partita, and the date of composition is also unknown. Many recognize the music from Peter Shaffer's film Amadeus from 1984.

When the composer Antonio Salieri hears Mozart's music for the first time, it is during a concert where Gran Partita is played. In a famous line, Salieri says, "It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God." As sentimental as it may sound, there is certainly a grain of truth in the line – in Gran Partita, Mozart's tones feel otherworldly.

A dear reunion on the conductor's podium
Conductor Jessica Cottis, who directed the opera The Death of Klinghoffer at Norrlandsoperan in the fall of 2023, leads the symphony orchestra during tonight's concert. The soloist is Niklas Liepe, a violinist with a spectacular tone and technical breadth, and the winner of the 2021 Opus Klassik award. Here, he makes his first guest appearance in Umeå.