In 2011 Rolf Martinsson, one of Sweden’s internationally as well as nationally most recognized contemporary composers, received a request from 12 Swedish choirs, in collaboration with the study organisation Sensus, to compose a sacred work. As is well known Sweden has a rich choral tradition and the intention of the new work, based on the Bible’s Gospel of St. Luke contrasted with contemporary texts by Göran Greider, was that it should be accessible and affordable to most choirs in the country. This resulted in a St. Luke Passion for choir, smaller instrumental ensemble (six instruments only), two soloists (soprano – Evangelist, baritone – Jesus) and a Narrator. The composer has kept the choral as well as instrumental parts on a manageable technical level, whilst the solo parts demand professional interpreters. Martinsson has chosen to highlight the drama of the story by painting the Bible texts in the style of a Baroque Passion, whereas he mirrors Greider’s texts in his own musical language. This dramatic tension has engaged audiences, as well as inspired interpreters, since the 12 co-commissioning choirs held their respective premiers in spring 2012. As of spring 2020 this composition has already been performed over 70 times in Sweden and is now considered an important addition to the Swedish choral repertoire. Based on its success, Gehrmans Musikförlag is planning to publish a German version (2021) of Martinsson’s Passion for international distribution. The composer has dedicated the St. Luke Passion to Kettil Skarby, former CEO of Gehrmans Musikförlag, initiator and true protagonist of this work.

1066 St. Luke Passion