Madrigal: Age and Youth by Ulf Långbacka

Otto, the ECMC octet, will sing Ulf Långbacka's Madrigal, Age and Youth, a setting of the poem, Crabbèd Age and Youth, from The Passionate Pilgrime, on our Free and Easy: Songs of Youth and Pleasure concerts, on May 7 and 8, 2016.  

The Passionate Pilgrime was a collection of 20 poems attributed to William Shakespeare and published in 1599.  Scholars believe only five of the twenty poems were actually written by Shakespeare.  Crabbèd Age and Youth is not one of the five confirmed poems of William Shakespeare.  Throughout the poem, the author puts Age and Youth in opposition, directly so in nine of the 12 lines of the poem.  The final two lines of the poem do not include this opposition.


Crabbèd Age and Youth

Crabbèd Age and Youth cannot live together: 
Youth is full of pleasance, Age is full of care; 
Youth like summer morn, Age like winter weather; 
Youth like summer brave, Age like winter bare. 
Youth is full of sport, Age's breath is short;  
Youth is nimble, Age is lame; 
Youth is hot and bold, Age is weak and cold; 
Youth is wild, and Age is tame. 
Age, I do abhor thee; Youth, I do adore thee; 
O, my Love, my Love is young! 
Age, I do defy thee:  O, sweet shepherd, hie thee! 
For methinks thou stay'st too long.


Ulf Långbacka studied choral and orchestral composition, voice, clarinet and piano at the Sibelius Academy. He earned a diploma in choral conducting in 1987. He has also participated in numerous conducting courses in Finland and abroad under the guidance of Peter Erdei, Eric Ericson and Harry Christophers, among others.  In 1991, the Cantabile Chamber Choir won first prize under his leadership in the category of modern music in the EBU choir competition, Let the Peoples Sing.  

Långbacka has worked as a professor of choral conducting at the Sibelius Academy and from 1991, as lecturer in music and conductor of the women's and men's choruses, Florakören and Brahe Djäknar, respectively, at Åbo Akademi University.  Långbacka was formerly a conductor with the Finnish Swedish Choir Federation. He has composed choral works and chamber music, including the cantata, The Inner Light, written for Åbo Akademi's 80th anniversary in 1998.  He has won prizes in several competitions for his choral compositions, among them second prize in the Turku Conservatory Nordic composition contest in 2007.   

In Mr. Långbacka's own words:

My music has grown out of the need for compositions suitable for the various groups I have conducted and performed with myself. From the very beginning I have attached much importance to how the music works for the performers as well as for the audience. As I have gradually enlarged the scope of my composing I have strived to maintain this ´functionalist´ perspective. This means I continually pay attention to factors such as dramaturgy, sound, playability, and level of difficulty.

From my long experience in teaching amateur choristers to sing difficult parts, I learned to avoid long passages of dissonances without resolution, wide or atonal melodic leaps and unnecessary rhythmic complexity in my choral works. Over time, I became more and more intrigued with the secrets of simplicity and effectiveness; with music that helps singers and musicians find a body of sound that is more than the sum of its different parts. Similarly, I'm not very interested in trying to find new and stunning ways to use classical instruments, instead I value the refined qualities that have come from the long development of these instruments.  Among my music's influences are diverse styles including music of the renaissance, impressionism, twentieth century concert music, jazz, and folk music.

L to R:  Craig Goodwin-Ortiz de Leon, Eric Faris, Steve Ostrow, Clay Morris, Bill Powell, Vince Peterson, Edward Angelo Enrique, Anthony Pho,  Daniel Fiore, and Vince Peterson. Photo: Dagaco Photography

Otto is an octet of Empire City Men's Chorus members identified and chosen by special audition.  They serve as artistic ambassadors for the organization, perform small vignettes during series concerts, and appear independently in outside and booked performances by request.  These eight men of Otto are the embodiment of ECMC's core mission and values.  They are superlative singers who exude fierce dedication to ensemble singing technique, as well as a personal loyalty to their love of music and bringing it to diverse communities of public audiences.  

We're just two and half weeks away from our Free and Easy Concerts on May 7 and 8, 2016.  Be sure to purchase your tickets by Friday, April 23, 2016 to take advantage of the 15% discount.  

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