Commissioned by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra to honour the 125th anniversary of Sibelius's birth
In homage to Sibelius
This short work, written in the winter and spring of 1990, was commissioned by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra to honour the 125th anniversary of Sibelius' birth.
It is based on an episode from the Kalevala, the great Finnish epic, where Väinämäinen, the hero-God, has fashioned a magical five-stringed instrument from the bones of a giant pike. Orpheus-like, he plays upon it and enchants the people. All listen and all weep, their hearts melted. Even Väinämäinen weeps and his tears 'bigger than cranberries' fall into the clear waters of the deep blue sea. A sea bird dives down to retrieve his tears - they have ripened into pearls.
Song of the Enchanter was first performed on the 14th February 1991 by the Helsinki Philharmonic, conducted by James Loughran.