Programme guide

“There will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions.” – This basic principle of the Swiss theologian Hans Küng also forms the basis of his libretto to the choral work Weltethos. The piece, set to music by Jonathan Harvey, was performed here for the first time in this concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle.

According to Küng, the political and ecological challenges of the future are to be mastered only with a basic consensus spanning all cultures. Weltethos is the vision of this arrangement, based on the common values of the world religions. These are conveyed in texts about Confucius, Moses, Mohammed, Buddha and Jesus as well as Hindu writings. The result should, according to Küng, be no “religious potpourri”, but a universal message of nonviolence, justice, truthfulness and partnership.

The composer Jonathan Harvey (1939–2012) was, in the words of Simon Rattle, “probably the most spiritual of our British composers”. Moreover, his knowledge of Indian, Chinese and Arabic music made him uniquely suited for this project. Harvey was a good friend of the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Rundfunkchor Berlin ever since the musicians gave the German premiere of Harvey’s Madonna of Winter and Spring under Rattle’s direction in 2006. He was also a guest in the Philharmonie for the premiere of his choral work Messages in March 2008.

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