Der müde Tod – Wishful Singing

Fritz Lang’s silent film classic Der müde Tod (1921) accompanied by vocal quintet Wishful Singing, in a new composition by Steven Kamperman

After the much-acclaimed opera Hildegard, written by Steven Kamperman in 2018, the composer and vocal quintet Wishful once again get together for a new co-operation: live music performed alongside the silent film Der müde Tod.

The story in a nutshell

A young widow succeeds to enter Death’s realm to beg for the life of her deceased husband. Death argues that, to his sorrow, a life that is meant to end, can never be saved. Nonetheless, he is willing to give the woman three opportunities to try for herself.

Subsequently, she is featured in three stories of love and death, in Baghdad, Venice and at the Chinese imperial court. But in none of these sub-stories, she manages to save the lives of her lovers. When she comes back to Death’s place, he finally gives her one ultimate dramatic opportunity to save her husband. But in the end, love chooses another outcome altogether.

Composer Steven Kamperman about the music

The story of Der müde Tod is heartbreaking, full of moral dilemma’s, yet decidedly positive in the end. The imagery of the film is extremely rich, with scenes in an Arab medina, Venice during Carnaval, and at the imperial court in China. The music, of course, reflects this intense drama and the local colours, but also adds an airy dimension in connection to Death’s realm. The five fantastic vocalists of Wishful Singing are not only heard live, but also on tape, sounding from an electronically enhanced ‘other world’. On stage the public can further experience a harmonium playing the scenes in Germany, a cello playing drones in Baghdad, a recorder quartet in Venice (together with tape) and pulsating rhythms on marimba in China, played by Syrian percussionist Modar Solama. The film, allegedly Hitchcock’s favorite, culminates in a final scene of great intensity.

Wishful Singing

Wishful Singing is a top-ranking international a cappella ensemble comprising five young female singers from the Netherlands. With their refreshing style, compelling stage presentation and abundance of musical talent, Wishful Singing’s members prove beyond dispute that five women are capable of achieving as broad a sound spectrum as five men. They are also renowned for conceiving distinctive programmes, always with ‘that extra something’.

The ensemble has a broad repertoire – ranging from Renaissance works (Palestrina) and Baroque (Scarlatti) to close harmony and contemporary repertoire by composers such as Steve Reich and Kate Moore. For several years it has also been a fervent champion of Gregorian chant.

Wishful Singing has enjoyed widespread press and television coverage since the launching of its In Mysterium CD featuring Gregorian chant, which topped the classical charts for a long period.

The vocal quintet has won various national and international awards and performs at major venues in the Netherlands, such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Concert tours have taken the singers to venues and festivals all over the world. They have performed in many countries, including Japan, China, the United States, Germany, Estonia, Spain and Italy.

Wishful Singing enjoys sharing its expertise and love of music with others. The ensemble has been invited to give lectures and workshops at major international symposiums, including the World Symposium on Choral Music and the International Kodály Seminar in Hungary. The singers also regularly hold workshops for choirs and ensembles in countries such as Japan, Spain and Germany.