Mädchenchor am Essener Dom
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Bespoke suits usually produce a perfect fit - and something similar is true of compositions which are written with a particular choir in mind. Only few ensembles are fortunate enough to receive such an honour, but when they are - when composer and choir work together closely and engage with each other at close quarters - this experience regularly gives birth to very special music. The Girls Choir at Essen Cathedral (Mädchenchor am Essener Dom) under the direction of Raimund Wippermann was one of those few, fortunate ensembles. In 2001, the German composer Rolf Rudin had originally set out to write a piece that was to be singable for as many choirs of different levels as possible. After attending a rehearsal with the Girls Choir at Essen Cathedral, however, he changed his plans: with his Weg zum Licht, he produced a motet cycle for a cappella women's choir which is ideally suited to the strengths of Raimund Wippermann and his young singers. Drawing from a rich pool of text sources, Rudin prepared a seven-part text composition whose movements are concentrically related to each other. By setting these texts to music, he was able to construct a musically and conceptually highly intricate architecture of sound which gives voice to St John the Evangelist as well as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Erich Fried. The concept of light unfalteringly stands at the heart of this piece: ranging from the light of the world and the candle which flickers in darkness to the meaningless light cascades of the modern metropolis. As the last sounds fade away, the piece comes to a close - but the light does not go out: 'no matter how often we perform this piece', Raimund Wippermann recalls, 'Rolf Rudin's Weg zum Licht has lost none of its excitement and fascination'.