To tell the truth, The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen is a gruesome tale. Each matchstick offers no more than the tinsel consolation of a heroin syringe, followed invariably disillusionment. And finally death.
Romain Bischoff, artistic director of Silbersee asked me to compose an introduction to The Little Match Girl Passion by David Lang — a solo for a girl who is about to cross the threshold of death. She has the small child's hope of a better life in eternity, which immediately reminded me of the fantasy heaven in the last part of Mahler's Fourth Symphony.
In Paradise has become a similar story: delirious and hopefull, a dying girl looks forward to the angels that will receive her in heaven. In Paradise became a sort of pop ballad: the voice is accompanied by an MP3 from a mobile phone. Like the way children listen to their music in real life.
For the text, I used a poem by Andersen, The Dying Child — a kind of Erlkönig, in which the chold, the dying in the arms of her mother hallucinates of the angels that will come to get her. I distilled the chorus from the Gregorian chant In Paradisum, from the Requiem Mass: it speaks of the angels leading you to paradise and that forever will sing for you.
Voice & MP3 Player (2014)
Mezzo-soprano and Orchestra (2015)
Commissioned by Romain Bischoff and Silbersee.
17 December 2014 in the Laurenskerk, Rotterdam, by Claudia Veltman.