Advent, 2002

On November 9th 2002, those of us who were fortunate enough to be present at the world première of ENGEL-PROZESSIONEN (ANGEL PROCESSIONS) for a cappella choir at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, witnessed such a unity of nations in a harmonious human family with our eyes, ears, and hearts performed so magnificently by the large choir of the Dutch radio (GOK). 

During the 42 minutes of the work, which is the second scene of SUNDAY from LIGHT, 7 groups of singers each group singing in a different language and dressed in a different colour process through the audience, praising God in their own unique way, then join together to sing the final, universal message in perfect harmony:

Be glad, GOD loves us;
Rejoice, GOD guides us;
Sing, GOD hears us;
Radiate, GOD sees us;
Give thanks, GOD helps us

On November 11th, the headlines of the review of the performance in the arts section of the Süddeutscher Zeitung (Munich) read:

The rift caused by the founders of religions is reconciled by the musician.

Significantly, immediately following the world première, the manager of the GOK choir started receiving telephone calls from all over Europe asking for performances in this season and the coming one, none of which she could accept because the choir has to plan so far in advance. So let us hope for a world tour as soon as possible, financed by the WORLD-PARLIAMENT! (On such a tour, no matter where the performances would take place, at least one of the languages could be comprehended.)

The work is one of Stockhausen's most "movable" ones what concerns flexibility. This was proven by the fact that it was conceived for the Concertgebouw (with some seats removed to make passages through the audience) but could be quickly adapted to the much smaller Heilig Kreuz Kirche in Berlin where it was performed 4 days later. 

The choir processes through the audience in six groups of 6 singers and one group of 4, singing in 7 different languages: the Angels of Water, the Monday-angels (6 tenors), wear light green robes and sing in Hindi (Indian); the Angels of Earth, the Tuesday-angels (6 sopranos) wear bright red robes and sing in Chinese; the Angels of Life, the Wednesday-angels (3 altos) wear yellow robes and sing in Spanish; the Angels of Music the Thursday-angels (3 sopranos and 3 tenors) wear light blue robes and sing in English; the Angels of Light the Friday-angels (6 basses) wear orange robes and sing in Arabian; the Angels of Heaven the Saturday-angels (3 altos and 3 basses) wear dark blue robes and sing in Kiswahili; and the Angels of Joy the Sunday-angels (1 soprano, 1 alto, 1 tenor and 1 bass) wear golden robes and sing in German.

Each group has its own predominating gesture:

group 1  (MONDAY)  

group 2 (TUESDAY)  

group 3 (WEDNESDAY)

group 4 (THURSDAY)  

group 5 (FRIDAY)  

group 6 (SATURDAY)

group 7 (SUNDAY) 

They ceremoniously move through the auditorium according to a spatial plan not unlike the ones we are familiar with for Stockhausen's electronic music. Once again, as previously in STERNKLANG (STAR SOUND) and INVASION of TUESDAY from LIGHT, his dream of making sounds pass just in front of the listener's noses could be realised! Both in the sold-out Concertgebouw, in which about 2000 people were seated, including numerous seats on the stage (see photos of the dress rehearsal and concert) and in the substantially smaller (packed) Heilig Kreuz Kirche in Berlin, where ANGEL-PROCESSIONS received its German  première on November 13th, the experience of hearing the world languages coming from far away, passing by, mixing, and then going away into the distance again was for me reminiscent of the magnitudes of our earth as experienced in HYMNEN. It is as if ANGEL-PROCESSIONS is the sequel to HYMNEN. HYMNEN is the audible vision of mankind in its diversity, polyphonically and harmoniously sharing the same time and space and then, after Pluramon in Hymunion breathes out his last calm breath, we find ourselves in a different dimension surrounded by the angels of ANGEL-PROCESSIONS, the INVISIBLE CHOIRS of THURSDAY from LIGHT now visible, and the apocalypse past singing as they come and go in exotic languages whose messages we somehow are able to understand:


1           Angels of Water - MONDAY from LIGHT
A third millennium is beginning
since your birth in the water, Christos MICHAEL,
through EVE'S child's child Maria.

 2          Angels of Earth - TUESDAY from LIGHT
We praise GOD, the creator of the Cosmos;
we glorify MICHAEL, the guide of our Universe;
we thank EVE-Maria for our course of the years on this Earth.

3           Angels of Life - WEDNESDAY from LIGHT
Joy in the play of life,
Praise, glory and thanksgiving to you
GOD - Holy Spirit of the Cosmos

4           Angels of Music - THURSDAY from LIGHT
GOD - Holy Spirit of the Cosmos
bless the music.
MICHAEL - Holy Spirit of our Universe
protect the music.
EVE - Holy Mother of Humanity
give new life to music.

5           Angels of Light - FRIDAY from LIGHT
Our hearts hear your voices,
Our eyes read the light,
radiating in all temptation.

6           Angels of Heaven - SATURDAY from LIGHT
Holy, holy, holy is the Heaven,
in which we humans are resurrected.

7           Angels of Joy - SUNDAY from LIGHT
Be glad, GOD loves us;
Rejoice, GOD guides us;
Sing, GOD hears us;
Radiate, GOD sees us;
Give thanks, GOD helps us

Oct. 23rd 1999  Stockhausen

In both Amsterdam and Berlin the work was performed twice, and Stockhausen spoke following the intermission, before the second performance.

He said that there was an organic process in the order of the angels: that water (group 1) and earth (group 2) bring forth life (group 3); that life brings forth music (group 4) and that music brings forth light (group 5); that light leads us to heaven (group 6) and heaven to joy (group 7).

He closed by saying that we should never forget that potentially, we are ALL angels.

ANGEL PROCESSIONS is a reminder that all of mankind shares one single purpose in life, expressed multifariously by different languages, whose colours, after all, are only "robes".

Other photos from the world première of ENGEL-PROZESSIONEN: