In ‘Songs from the Planet of Life’ composer Helge Iberg uses poems of the taoist tradition to shed light on the ecological situation. An impressive handful of soloists come together with The Norwegian Radio Orchestra for this touching musical reflection on the present state of the planet and humankind.
‘Grand Concert’ is no exaggeration in this instance; the piece consists of 9 movements, ranging from solo-concerts to parts where the soloists perform together. Vocal artist Sidsel Endresen narrates the poems together with LiuTiegang, actor and leader of The National Theater of China in Beijing. Elise Båtnes’s interpretation of Tale of Sorrowful Song is outstanding. Christian Ihle Hadland’s piano-playing is equally poignant in Lotus Dance, while Marianne Beate Kielland and Frank Havrøy spellbinds us in Long Autumn Night contrasted by Tom Ottar Andreassen’s alto flute, all safely guided by conductor Kai Grinde Myrann.
“In the shadow of a climate crisis”
Helge Iberg’s thought-provoking liner note reflects on mankind’s conditions at present. “Throughout the history of mankind, nature served as mother and provider, delivering rules of order with unpredictable ruthlessness. We were forced to submit to her and be grateful. Nature was the source and the context, the back-drop and all-encompassing canvas where everything unfolded in eternity. Today nature is “overcome”, it lays heaving on the ground. Suddenly, nature has become the responsibility of mankind! In the future; will our troubled planet provide songs of life?
An unforeseen possibility?
The tone of Iberg’s piece is melancholic, but his comment ends in cautious optimism: “The global lines of conflict is continually sharpening, our technological capacity could exterminate the world within a few hours, and in a lengthier perspective, climate change could make earth uninhabitable. And yet, here lies a paradoxical opportunity: Could these global natural disasters bring the world together!? Might they divert other destructive attentions, aggressions and instincts? Because this is not us versus other people or ideas. This is not us versus anyone! This is about our existence in community here on ‘the planet of life’”.