Wallin: World Matters

Wallin: World Matters
"I have for some time thought of a large work for the concert hall that deals with matters in the world around me." Rolf Wallin shares the impetus behind his new multimedia concert work Strange News, which premieres on 11 May with the Oslo Philharmonic. Director Josse de Pauw stages the audio and visual elements of the composer's seven-movement monodrama, while Christian Eggen leads the orchestra and narrator Erling Sandmo.

Strange News is the composer's response to a horrific plight highlighted on TV and in print news — the exploitation of child soldiers in Africa. Wallin didn't want his new work to address the issue in a traditional manner that identifies an enemy and proposes a solution, but rather one that searches for "an artistic parallel to a TV or radio documentary..." After approaching de Pauw with his idea for a new work, both Wallin and de Pauw set out in spring 2006 and traveled to Uganda and The Congos — working with the Norwegian charity Christian Relief Network (CRN) — interviewing former child soldiers and recording audio and video materials for archival and performance usage.

Wallin continues, "[A documentary is] a small, but informative window onto a particular matter....A good documentary leaves the listener with more insight and less distance to the subject, but also with the impulse to find out more about the matter and make his or her own conclusions..."

Strange News is the centerpiece of the Oslo Philharmonic's three-day Wallin Festival which also features performances of his Clarinet Concerto and a portrait concert of his chamber music.

Strange News features four crucial elements:
     — The narrator appears as "I" and serves both as storyteller and the face of humanity.
     — A surround-sound system serves as "the outer world," engulfing the audience and
          causing it to automatically interact with the narrator.
     — A video screen projects images of "the real world."
     — The orchestra serves as "the inner world," connecting to an abstract and emotional
          space which includes all of the sounds involved.

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