​Up for a new challenge

Photo: Fred-Olav Vatne/Oslo Philharmonic

Camilla Tilling and conductor Eivind Aadland during rehearsal for this week's concert.

Star soprano Camilla Tilling is up for a new challenge thursday night: singing a Bach cantata and a Mahler symphony in the same evening.

"It’s a rather unusual combination, and I've never sung the cantata before," Camilla Tilling says to ofo.no before the concert.

"But I’ve promised myself that I will always say yes when I get the opportunity to sing Bach. He’s such a wonderful composer, one of my favorites."

The combination of Johann Sebastian Bach's Cantata No. 51 and Gustav Mahler's Fourth Symphony implies a big leap, both in terms of style and pitch:

"It's probably not kind to the voice to sing these two works in the same evening. Mahler is extremely low for the singer and Bach extremely high. So we'll see how it goes, it will be exciting! One learns things through trying. With an hour in between everything should be ok!"

Read more: Gabrieli, Bach and Mahler

Sang Mahler after terrorist attacks

Swedish Camilla Tilling arrives in Oslo directly from Berlin, where she performed Mahler's Fourth Symphony three times last weekend together with the Berlin Philharmonic. She’s had this music in her repertoire for 20 years and has some very special memories about the symphony:

"I sang Mahler's Fourth in Paris on January 7, 2015, the same day as the attack on Charlie Hebdo. And I sang it in Boston five days after the terrorist attack on the marathon there in 2013."

Both concerts were planned before the attacks occurred, but they turned into memorial ceremonies in the wake of the dramatic events:

"The symphony takes on a different meaning in such situations, it becomes a part of the grieving process for the public. Then it is great to be able to send some sort of postcard from heaven. The text of the fourth movement describes in a naive but wonderful way how good everything is there. I think the movement is very comforting myself, and it really means a lot to me. Musicians have a great advantage: The music finds its own way into the listener's thoughts. One doesn’t need to do that much, listeners bring with them what they need from it."

Fortunately, most Mahler concerts passed off under normal circumstances, as she hopes will be the case also in Oslo:

"In recent years I’ve become a little uneasy when Mahler's Fourth shows up on the program. I've thought "oh no, something is going to happen!" So every time I sing it without anything happening, it is a victory!"