Commissioned by the London Sinfonietta and the Bergen International Festival, with funding from The Norwegian Composers' Fund. It was premiered on 2 June 2017 in Håkonshallen, Bergen, Norway, by Ida Nielsen and the London Sinfonietta, conducted by Pierre-André Valade.

  • 1(pic,afl).1(ca).1(bcl).0+cbn/111[btbn]0/perc/pf/str[11111]
  • Bass Guitar; 2(pic).2(ca).1+bcl.1+cbn/2.2.2+btbn.0/timp.perc/pf/str
  • Bass Guitar
  • 17 min

Programme Note

I became aware of Ida Nielsen's musicality, her radiant stage presence and exhilarating slap hand technique when she played bass with Prince in his last six years on earth. Like him, Ida has this wonderful ability to spread positive energy, and now she continues to spread love and joy as a singer, songwriter and bassist with her own band. Spirit is a celebration of this joy.

But isn't it thoughtless, almost immoral, to make art about joy and happiness in a time when humanity is reeling on the brink of self-annihilation, in a time when dangerous autocrats rise to power in country after country? As Bertolt Brecht bitterly said: “He who laughs has not yet heard the bad news.”

But there is another approach. In a speech after the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, Leonard Bernstein said: “This sorrow and rage will not inflame us to seek retribution; rather they will inflame our art. Our music will never again be quite the same. This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before. And with each note we will honor the spirit of John Kennedy, commemorate his courage, and reaffirm his faith in the Triumph of the Mind.”

So this is my humble contribution to this spirit; the spirit of sharing, the spirit of empowering, the spirit of becoming strong, but not hardened, during hard times.

Programme note © 2017 Rolf Wallin