Beethoven and Beyond

In a few hours, Norrlands Opera Symphony Orchestra and I will begin our survey of Beethoven Symphonies here in the new European Capital of Culture – Umeå, Sweden.

There will be four concerts in total taking place over one and a half weeks, but our Beethoven cycle has a difference – we have commissioned nine different Swedish composers to each write a nine minute work to be played alongside one of the nine symphonies.
We held a ‘lottery’ a while back to match the composers with a particular symphony and it has been really interesting to see how they have been inspired by their allotted work.

We will be playing the first three symphonies today, and the corresponding world premieres by Kent Olofsson, Fredrik Högberg and Kim Hedås. Quite a marathon, but perhaps slightly eased for the audience by the provision of our special ‘Beethoven and Beyond’ sausage which they will receive in the long interval!

Members of the orchestra and I had a very enjoyable evening making a lot of sausages the other night, with thanks to the guys at local gourmet store Duå (
We tried to come up with a sausage to reflect Beethoven’s revolutionary, unique style that emerges during the series of symphonies and the result is wonderful, with more than a nod to the ‘Wiener Schnitzel’. Here is a photo of one of Bassoonists, Maria with her beautifully twisted bangers!



All the concerts will be recorded for broadcast by Swedish Radio in the week beginning the 20th January. I will post details later.

Meanwhile, here is the link to the NorrlandsOperan website about the concerts.

and the official Umeå2014 website

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