Planctus Cygni I-III is a triptych on an anonymous latin poem written in the middle ages, about a swan losing its way while flying over the sea. The swan gets lost, and of course panics while flying on for hours on end across the dark waters, getting very tired and afraid to drown, but in the end it reaches land and is happily saved. But this is not the land where it came from! So from now on the swan is an
al-manfa, an exile.
When I read Planctus Cygni, I immediately saw the link with the refugeecrisis we have in Europe. So to me it was clear that Planctus Cygni is about communication between east and west.
I also knew it would be very exciting to mix our western notes with these beautiful eastern ones. The result is a 30 minute score full of intriguing new music that offers a sea of possibilities and musical landscapes for soloists, choir and audience.
In the 3 parts of Planctus Cygni you can here a gradual shift from just Latin texts in part 1, to more and more Latin mixed with Arabic in parts II and III. You can also hear this slow shift in the music itself. Initially both solo singers and choir conform with western sounds to the Latin stanzas of the poem. The duduk, with her special timbre and gliding tones is the only foreign element in this first part. In the second part the refugee, al-manfa, cautionously brings out her own eastern sounds, and even the western soprano is trying some of these new sounds. And in part III both sopranos completely mix the western and eastern melodies and texts. Also in the choir the eastern lines can be heard more and more.
As mentioned earlier, for me Planctus Cygni is about communication between west and east. For I am convinced that communication between different cultures will in the end be the best way to find a way to live peacefully together in Europe: Concurrite omnia Alitum et conclamate Agmina: Join together, all winged creatures, and sing together all of you!