Gerard Beljon – Planctus Cygni

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On June 14th Collegium Vocale Eindhoven will bring the world premiere of the full version Gerard Beljon’s ‘Planctus Cygni’, commissioned by the ‘Nederlands Gregoriaans Festival’. The Latin lyrics and melody are originally written in approx. 800 AD….   

For Planctus Cygni is written for solo soprano, Arabic vocalist, duduk/fujara or saxophone, harp and chamber-choir. The work is based 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 ‘exulata’, ‘al-manfa’, an exile.

When Gerard Beljon read Planctus Cygni, I immediately associated it with the refugee crisis whime have in Europe. Therefore to him, it was clear that the central theme for my Planctus Cygni composition would be the cultural differences between East and West, and how we can build mutual understanding by communication.

The prospect of mixing our Western notes with these beautiful Eastern ones was also very exciting to him
Festival November Music and the Nederlands Gregoriaans Festival have made that possible by both giving him commissions to compose Planctus Cygni. 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.

Beljon is convinced that communication between the different cultures in Europe is the only way to solve our problems: Concurrite omnia Alitum et conclamate Agmina: Join together, all winged creatures, and sing together all of you!

More info

The previous, short version of Planctus Cygni: