Magnus Lindberg’s new work is a comment for the freedom of speech

Magnus Lindberg’s newest work, Accused for a soprano soloist and orchestra, will be premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in London on 28 January 2015. This is the famed composer’s first ever work for a solo vocalist, and also Lindberg’s first work to be premiered during his period as the Composer-in-residence for the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Accused is written for its soprano soloist Barbara Hannigan, and the LPO will be conducted by Vladimir Jurowski.

Subtitled “Three Interrogations for soprano and orchestra”, Accused takes a stand for the freedom of speech, human rights and democracy. The multilingual work uses direct transcripts from interrogations and trials, where an individual has been attacked by the state for acting against the system. The cases originate from three different states and three different times, beginning with the French revolution in 1795 and continuing to the Stasi interrogations in East German in the 1960s and the recent trial of Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning regarding the WikiLeaks case in United States.

The 30-minute-work approaches the cases with empathy and interest, making the juxtaposition between the state and an individual even more a musical problem than a political one. The singer struggles against the orchestra much like the the accused have struggled against the state and its political system. The orchestral part reflects the tensions in the society, and the soprano soloist takes the roles of both the prosecution and the accused – all of whom, coincidentally or not, are women.

The work was a joint commission by the LPO, Radio France, the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra and Carnegie Hall, and eight performance altogether have already been scheduled for the 2015-2016 season around the world.

Another new work by Lindberg, a duo for violinist Leila Josefowicz and pianist John Novacek, will be premiered in Wigmore Hall, London, on 19 March 2015. Many other Lindberg works will also be performed in the UK in the following months, including a UK premiere of Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No. 2 by the LPO as well as performances of Lindberg’s Violin Concerto and Clarinet Concerto.