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Rolf Wallin

Publisher: Chester Music

Large Bird Mask (2019)
Commissioned by Cikada supported by the Norwegian Composers’ Fund. First performed by Cikada ensemble conducted by Christian Eggen with stage direction by Kjetil Skøien at Den Norske Opera & Ballett, Oslo, as part of Ultima festival on 14 September 2019.
Work Notes
Performance restrictions apply to this work. Contact for enquiries.
Chester Music Ltd
Large Ensemble (7+ players)
Year Composed
1 Hour 0 Minutes
Unavailable Explain this...
Programme Note
Rolf Wallin Large Bird Mask (2019)
We are increasingly made aware of animal species on the brink of extinction. The populations of many common birds have been more than halved in the matter of a few decades. This has led composer Rolf Wallin and director Kjetil Skøien to ask: when we exterminate the birds, do we also exterminate what they symbolise deep within us? The dream of flying, the dream of singing freely and exuberantly and indeed the very dream of freedom?

Maybe it's time to show a bit of humility? In many so-called primitive cultures, the shamans use masks to become one with the animal spirits, so that the animals can be harvested sustainably by the hunters without disappearing. Instead of masks, Cikada's musicians use their instruments to "become birds". The music they play is extracted from the song of some of the endangered bird species, stretched in time so that our slow ears can appreciate their fascinating melodic swirls. And with text and choreography they move into a larger scenic unity, with projected images and videos telling the story of these fantastic creatures and our vulnerable relationship with them.

Programme note © 2019 Rolf Wallin


What convinces me, is how everything turns into formal elements of a naturally flowing performance that makes me feel and think differently. Even the graphs and texts become elements in a composition, a concert and theatre staging where internal and external experience is put into play in a playful and questioning way. Vulnerable as the birds themselves. ...Rolf Wallin and Kjetil Skøien have made a thoughtful, beautiful and humoristic performance about an alarming theme. The score is based on the structures of birdsong, but stretched and bent in time and space, pinned down by Wallin’s great experience in computer-assisted composing. Does the piece have a satisfying form? Are the transitions smooth? Yes. Christian Eggen conducts the music with precision and authority.
Erling Gulbrandsen, Morgenbladet (Oslo),19/09/2019
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