Romeo and Juliet

Gothenburg Symphony, Mei-Ann Chen conductor, Katija Dragojevic mezzo soprano

Romeo and Juliet

Gothenburg Symphony, Mei-Ann Chen conductor, Katija Dragojevic mezzo soprano

Event has already taken place

Love in all its forms: Sappho’s erotic tension in Marie Samuelsson’s new work Aphrodite with Katija Dragojevic as the soloist and the interplay of strong emotions in Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev. All under the direction of conductor Mei-Ann Chen.

This is where ancient Greece and 21st century Sweden, 16th century Verona and the Soviet Union of the 1930s meet in a strong and intense embrace. It opens with an intimate Intermezzo of Brahms transformed for orchestra, with the new title Black Swan.


Higdon blue cathedral
13 min

PROGRAM NOTES: “blue cathedral” Blue…like the sky. Where all possibilities soar. Cathedrals…a place of thought, growth, spiritual expression…serving as a symbolic doorway in to and out of this world. Blue represents all potential and the progression of journeys. Cathedrals represent a place of beginnings, endings, solitude, fellowship, contemplation, knowledge and growth. As I was writing this piece, I found myself imagining a journey through a glass cathedral in the sky. Because the walls would be transparent, I saw the image of clouds and blueness permeating from the outside of this church. In my mind's eye the listener would enter from the back of the sanctuary, floating along the corridor amongst giant crystal pillars, moving in a contemplative stance. The stained glass windows' figures would start moving with song, singing a heavenly music. The listener would float down the aisle, slowly moving upward at first and then progressing at a quicker pace, rising towards an immense ceiling which would open to the sky…as this journey progressed, the speed of the traveler would increase, rushing forward and upward. I wanted to create the sensation of contemplation and quiet peace at the beginning, moving towards the feeling of celebration and ecstatic expansion of the soul, all the while singing along with that heavenly music. These were my thoughts when The Curtis Institute of Music commissioned me to write a work to commemorate its 75th anniversary. Curtis is a house of knowledge--a place to reach towards that beautiful expression of the soul which comes through music. I began writing this piece at a unique juncture in my life and found myself pondering the question of what makes a life. The recent loss of my younger brother, Andrew Blue, made me reflect on the amazing journeys that we all make in our lives, crossing paths with so many individuals singularly and collectively, learning and growing each step of the way. This piece represents the expression of the individual and the group…our inner travels and the places our souls carry us, the lessons we learn, and the growth we experience. In tribute to my brother, I feature solos for the clarinet (the instrument he played) and the flute (the instrument I play). Because I am the older sibling, it is the flute that appears first in this dialog. At the end of the work, the two instruments continue their dialogue, but it is the flute that drops out and the clarinet that continues on in the upward progressing journey. This is a story that commemorates living and passing through places of knowledge and of sharing and of that song called life. This work was commissioned and premiered in 2000 by the Curtis Institute of Music. --Jennifer Higdon

Samuelsson Afrodite - fragment Sapfo
21 min

25 min

Prokofjev from Romeo och Julia
43 min


Gothenburg Symphony

Mei-Ann Chen Conductor

Katija Dragojevic mezzosopran

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