It was indeed a major event in Cleveland, Ohio in early March as Rolf Wallin’s new work "Act" was premiered by the Cleveland Orchestra.
Wallin’s brand new work “Act” was commissioned last year after the respected orchestra had performed his awarded Clarinet Concerto. “Act” is the composer’s first orchestral work in thirteen years.
Says the composer of his new work: “Act is a piece about speed, about the joy of activity, and, above all, about the power of acting together. In a time when competition dominates every sphere of human activity, it is good to be reminded that, from the slaying of mammoths to the creation of the utterly complex societies in which we live today, the foundation of mankind’s success is our ability to cooperate. And for me, one of the most amazing examples of human collaboration is the symphony orchestra, in which around 100 extremely skilled and highly individual musicians act together as one enormous, resounding organism, transforming the rigid lines and dots of the score into living, moving yet ephemeral cathedrals of sound. While writing Act, I carried with me the enthusiastic and warm feedback I received, from musicians and audience alike, during the Cleveland Orchestra's performance of my Clarinet Concerto last May. And I have asked myself: ‘How would this huge, wonderful musical organism act inside my mind?’ During the ten minutes of the piece, I allow the orchestra to summon all its forces, so that it can discover how the players can best work together. Then, finally, the music achieves a momentum that sends it pulsating into the last collective surges of forwards motion.”
The Cleveland Orchestra was founded in 1918, and it has in contrast to many other American orchestras established a musical profile that to a large extent focuses on 20th and 21st century music. Former artistic leaders of the orchestra include such heavyweights as George Szell and Lorin Maazel. A commission from this respected orchestra is no everyday occurrence not for Norwegian or for composers of any other nationality, and the list of past commissions includes composers of the likes of Magnus Lindberg, Kaija Saariaho and Oliver Knussen.
In addition to the trademark high quality performances and recordings, the orchestra is also recognised for its contemporary profile. French conductor and composer Pierre Boulez has been frequently employed as guest conductor and musical advisor since 1965. Under the leadership of Boulez, the orchestra has recorded a number of works for Deutsche Grammophon and Philips. Wallin’s “Act” is to be conducted by the Cleveland Orchestra’s current conductor, Austrian Franz Welzer-Möst.
The Cleveland premiere of “Act” is not the only Wallin performance in the US this season. Last fall saw the Manhattan Percussion Ensemble performing his “Twine” at the Lincoln Center while his ensemble piece “Appearances” will be performed by the Juilliard Ensemble on April 1.
Curently, Wallin is in the process of composing a new work that is to be premiered by the French Ensemble Court Circuit later this year. Wallin has also received a commission from the Arditti String Quartet that will see its premiere at the 2005 Ultima Festival. The Radio France Prèsences 2006 festival will also see a brand new Wallin work premiered.