• Britta Byström
  • Gállábartnit (2015)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • fl(pic).cl(Ebcl).perc.pf.vn.va.vc
  • SATB
  • S,T,Narrator
  • 50 min

Programme Note

Gállábártnit (The Bear’s Sons)

In the opera Gállábártnit, based on an old Sami myth and sung in the Sami language, librettist Rawdna Carita Eira and I wanted to explore the unknown: The fear of the unknown, the attraction to the unknown. These themes are what Gállábártnit is all about.

The libretto is very rich. It contains scenes from Sami everyday life (such as women cutting grass on the marsh), but also features fantastic mythological material (people being lifted to the sky like stars). I tried to capture this richness in the music: The women use their working tools as percussion instrument; the choir whispers and whistles; the percussionist plays vibraphone in one scene and swanee whistle in another; one singer and two woodwinds are placed off stage, imitating birds singing from far away.

There were many different musical influences for this piece: traces of a Swedish hymn, a Bob Marley song, and parts from the Danish composer Per Nørgård's infinity series. Through all this, the music tells a beautiful story about a woman choosing the unknown.

I’m very proud to have been a part of this project, involving creators and artist from different places and different cultures. Together we reached for the point that the main character Áile speaks of in Gállábártnit: ”Amas ii leat šat munnje amas”, which means: The unknown is no longer unknown to me.

© Britta Byström