During this year’s Olavsfestdagene in Trondheim, a seven-hour long epic music piece will be performed. It is considered so challenging that it has previously been performed only five times.
In a secluded side street of the legendary Fleet Street in London lays the Temple Church. It was founded in the late 1100s and was the headquarters of the Knights Templar. It was here the music cycle “The Veil of the Temple” had its world premiere.
The legendary piece lasts over seven hours. Conductor Stephen Leyton was the man who ordered the work from late composer Sir John Tavener.
Tavener passed in 2013, but he regards “The Veil of the Temple” as the supreme achievement of his life and the most important work he ever composed. The music was deeply influenced by orthodox vigil services, but goes beyond Christianity and embrace Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism and the religion of the American Indians.
“The Veil of the Temple” is composed in eight cycles and lasts well over seven hours throughout the night until dawn. That offers challenges.
– It will be a challenge for all the musicians to stay awake, and knowing when to sing. This is not a static piece of music on stage, but something that changes and evolves throughout the night. You hear a melody the first time, and then you hear it several times through the night. Each time it becomes more magnificent, more developed, more beautiful, says conductor Stephen Leyton to NRK.no.
Due to its length and complexity, it has only been performed five times, and never inside a cathedral. The rendition in the Nidaros Cathedral is the first after the composer’s death.
Leyton was a close friend of Sir John Tavener. He remembers him:
– History will say that he wrote significant works that really was amazing, really got the world to think, and that changed the lives of those who heard them. One of the pieces is undoubtedly “The Veil of the Temple”.
According to plan, the piece will be performed in the Nidaros Cathedral the night between August 1st and 2nd. According to Leyton, the cathedral is the “perfect place to perform this work”.
Olavsfestdagene is now in contact with four different choirs. If everything goes as planned, people present must prepare for a long night – but according to those who know the work, it will change them forever.
Text by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews
Featured image by Knut Arne Gjertsen / Wikimedia Commons