Retrospect: Vivier in Gothenburg

EQEQ is Everywhere, Interviews & Feature articles, Projects

Personal account from mezzo-soprano Tuuri Dede.

I vividly remember how Barbara called me on whatsapp in the middle of a Covid wave (was it the first or the second or….who remembers) to invite me to sing Claude Debussy´s “La Demoiselle Élue” with Gothenburg Symphony. And then I remember how a bit later, just like everything else in my calendar, it was cancelled. Some months forward – I got a call again, informing me that Gothenburg has rescheduled our concerts. Due to restrictions it wasn’t possible to use the choir though, so the repertoire had to be changed. Oh boy I´m glad they did! I had never heard or sung Claude Vivier’s music before, but it fit me like a glove. The experience of heaviness, depression, darkness and lamentation on human suffering that “Wo bist du Licht” contains was like a spiritual cleanse in this bleary, lonely time. Barbara introduced the music of the ingenious fellow Canadian to the people of Gothenburg and I can say with conviction that it left no listener or musician cold. Aphrodite Patoulidou sang Vivier’s “Lonely Child”. It wasn’t her first time to do it – she performed the complicated piece by heart and it left a very strong impression on me (not just the fact that she didn’t use the score, but the performance itself!). A priceless asset to our inspiring team was (a Canadian again!) Simon Rivard, a conductor who is a part of the EQ just like us. I sang the piece to him via Zoom before the rehearsals in Gothenburg and I bothered him with it every single morning before the rehearsals and concerts. Yes, sure, he said it’s his job and he loves it and he gladly helps me….you know what they say about Canadians and politeness….But I’d be lying if I said he didn’t know a lot about Vivier and his music. Clapping the rhythms and trying to find the correct notes became a natural part of my day and Simon was very positive, although sometimes I felt like a first grader. To my own defense I must say that the orchestra has pages and pages (and pages) of nonmetrical music written in quarter tones, so maybe that had something to do with my initial insecurity.

Like always, EQ projects aren’t something we just go and “do”. Barbara’s dedication, passion and interest in both music and musicians still wows me after the three years I’ve known her. The gang of Gothenburg Symphony, where she’s been appointed as Principal Guest Conductor, seems just as motivated. I also loved the city and it seems I’m not the only one – I met many friends who have chosen to live there. Among others our fellow EQ singers Sofie Asplund and Erik Rosenius. I hope to be back soon!