SDG Sponsors UK Premiere of Rautavaara's New Mass


Finnish composer, Einojunhani Ratavaara, Photo: Ari Korkal  

Einojuhani Rautavaara, Finland's leading composer of his generation, may be approaching his 85th birthday (in 2013), but his love of composing shows no signs of diminishing. Over the last several decades, he has cultivated the mystical character of his Romantic style, and his compositional opus now includes eight symphonies, twelve concertos, nine operas and chamber operas (including Rasputin and The Gift of the Magi), along with a great body of vocal, orchestral, chamber, piano and choral music. Many of his works are inspired by metaphysical and religious subjects, including his best-selling Symphony No. 7 ("Angel of Light"). This summer, Soli Deo Gloria is delighted to be the sponsor of the UK premiere of Rautaavara's newest large-scale work Missa a cappella for mixed choir, a 25-minute setting of Mass.






 "It is my belief that music is great if, at some moment, the listener catches 'a glimpse of eternity through the window of time—Einojuhani Rautaavara


Cheltenham College Chapel Cheltenham, England  

The venue for this performance, Cheltenham Music Festival, is one of the oldest and most prestigious music festivals in Britain, known for premieres of contemporary music. The UK premiere is scheduled for Thursday, July 5, 2012, to be performed by the BBC Singers, conducted by David Hill, at Cheltenham College Chapel.











  BBC Singer, Photo: John Wood

The BBC Singers hold a unique position in British musical life, as the BBC's in-house professional chamber choir. The versatility of this 24-voice ensemble is second to none, and their performances of contemporary scores has brought about creative relationships with some of the most important composers and conductors of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Poulenc, Britten and Boulez.




David Hill, conductor  

The BBC Singer's Chief Conductor David Hill, widely known as one of the leading choral directors in the UK, is also Music Director of The Bach Choir, Chief Conductor of the Southern Sinfonia, Music Director of the Leeds Philharmonic Society and Associate Guest Conductor of The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. His ongoing series of English choral music for Naxos has received particular acclaim, including being shortlisted for the 2010 Gramophone Awards.





The first performance of Rautavaara's Missa a cappella took place in November 2011, performed by the Netherlands Radio Choir at Jacobikerk, Utrecht, Netherlands. The work, which has been some forty years in gestation (Rautavaara wrote the "Credo" section in 1972), was received with a standing ovation, with the choir repeating the beautiful Agnus Dei as an encore. (You can hear the complete work on Netherlands Radio 4—see sidebar.)



Soli Deo Gloria’s Associate Artistic Director, Peter Bannister, who attended the world premiere, called it “a very substantial work . . . from one of the most intriguing composers of sacred music working today.” (For more on Rautavaara’s style and approach to music, read Peter Bannister’s blog post “Into the Mystic—Einojuhani Rautavaara.”)

Missa a cappella, for chorus a cappella:
    Agnus Dei

  Cheltenham Music Brochure 2012 

Future premieres of Rautaavara’s Missa a cappella are scheduled by the Sydney Philharmonia Chamber Singers (Sydney, Australia, October 2012) and the Swedish Radio Choir, and SDG hopes to arrange a U.S. premiere.

For more information on the SDG-sponsored UK premiere in July 2012, click on the Cheltenham Festival Brochure: