‘…the one thing we need more than hope is action… Act. Do something.’ – the words of Greta Thunberg thread through Liz Johnson’s major new work Gentle Flame Cantata, with texts by Greta Thunberg, Kurt Masur, Liz Johnson and David Hart.
Gentle Flame will receive its world premiere on Tuesday 12 November at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with RBC Chamber Choir and Baroque Orchestra, conducted by Jeffrey Skidmore OBE, with soloist Samantha Lewis (mezzo-soprano).
The work opens with Johnson’s own words: ‘Gentle flame, guide our way’ in an uplifting Advent call to the manger. Darker fragments of poetry by David Hart weave through the piece, asking ‘If talk changes its rhythm will God appear? …If talk is of the pennywort, or the shy seal?’ The central climax sets Kurt Masur’s own account of the moment in 1989 when he stood up publicly against the East German state, opening the Gewandhaus doors to protestors during the candlelit demonstration that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall shortly afterwards.
Violinist Lucy Russell features as soloist and leads the RBC students on period instruments. The cantata is a dynamic exploration of the questions we face in modern times and our responsibility to act. The final section of the music returns to Greta Thunberg’s words: ‘Once we start to act, hope is everywhere.’
Liz Johnson’s Gentle Flame Cantata is supported by Wild Plum Arts ‘Made at the Red House’ residency, and is proudly available through Composers Edition website.
Tuesday 12 November 2019
Gentle Flame Cantata (2019) by Liz Johnson
Texts: Greta Thunberg, Kurt Masur, Liz Johnson, David Hart
Also in the programme: JS Bach Cantata BWV 140 Wachet auf JS Bach Cantata BWV 61/62 Nun komm der Heiden Heiland
RBC Chamber Choir and Baroque Orchestra, conduction Jeffrey Skidmore, OBE, soloist Samantha Lewis (mezzo-soprano).
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire