”Wollte Gott – wollte Gott, wir wären in Ägypten gestorben?“ echoed the five-part lyrics almost accusingly from the youth choir of the New Apostolic Church from Southern Germany. Around 70 male and female young singers from Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria came together for a practice weekend in Karlsruhe, where they rehearsed their way through the choral score of the EXODUS oratorio.
The oratorio was composed by Carsten Borkowski especially for the International Youth Convention 2019. Frank Ellinger, conductor of the choir, led two rehearsal weekends for the oratorio – in April and in May. The choir was formed for the European Youth Day in 2009 and has performed since in more than 30 concerts.
As Frank Ellinger put it, “The exodus from Egypt is a story which appears to be from a very distant past, but when you consider it more carefully, is there a more current subject than flight and banishment; the search for a homeland and a sense of belonging?”
The journey across the desert
The oratorio focuses on the motto of the IYC, “Here I am”, with its opening words, “Here we are!” After the hopeful start of the Israelites departure from Egypt the people became doubtful, and often had to be given encouragement. They were helped by the pillars of clouds and fire, were rescued from their pursuiters in the sea, were given sustenance in the desert – and even after all these things the people were still discontented. Moses had to keep reminding them of the goal which lay ahead of them.
Carsten Borkowski, who also used self-interpreted biblical text from the Book of Exodus, explained, “To put the uprising and flight of the people of Israel from Egypt into text and music was the idea of Frank Ellinger and myself. It was a great challenge for me, as the composer; both artistically and in its planning, but it brought me much joy to write the oratorio for two such enthusiastic ensembles, because I had a clear vision of what was possible, despite the short rehearsal time we had. At the end, I hope that everyone enjoys it, and that we all give praise to our Creator.”
The oratorio is split into nine portraits, which are linked to the central story about the fateful milestones of the Israelites on their way. Some of the portraits are instrumentally depicted; some portraits are orally described by a speaker, complemented by an instrumental background, also with impulsive or contemplative choral parts. A male and a female solo rendition complete the ensemble.
Puzzle pieces are fitted together
The choir will meet the Stuttgart chamber orchestra for the first time in this project after the two rehearsal weekends on the 18th and 19th May. The orchestra for EXODUS will have 30 musicians. It has already rehearsed separately from the choir. The conductor, Frank Ellinger, will bring the choir and orchestra together at the general rehearsal over the weekend in Stuttgart.
”We are looking forward very much in bringing the oratorio to life together with the orchestra; to adapt the tones into music,” said Frank Ellinger. Carsten Borkowski will also be there. The 100 or so musicians and singers want to use the rare opportunity to speak with the composer about his music.
Initial performance at the IYC
Whoever would like to listen to the music will have the chance on Sunday, 19th May, at 5 p.m., at the open general rehearsal in the New Apostolic Church in Stuttgart-Süd. The first performance of the oratorio will be at the International Youth Convention, on Friday, 31st May, at 2 p.m.in Hall 5 of the Düsseldorf Messe.
More information about the work and the choir can be found on the home page of the choir: www.junger-chor-sued.de
17. May 2019
Text: Ann-Christin Kulick
Images: Jan Dambach