Clarksville, TN – The little match girl, the protagonist of Hans Christian Anderson’s 1845 story of the same name, is a poor child who, on a cold winter evening, tries to sell matches to help feed her family.
As the night progresses, no one pays attention to the girl, and she’s forced to light one match after another to keep warm. She eventually runs out, and the story ends with the death of the poor little match girl.
It’s a heartbreaking tale that American composer David Lang adapted in 2007 into his Pulitzer Prize-winning composition, “The Little Match Girl Passion.” The Los Angeles Times called the piece “a rare bird in contemporary classical music: a broadly accessible work on which critics as well as the public bestow their blessings.”
At 7:30pm on November 22nd, the Austin Peay State University Governors Singers, under the direction of conductor Korre Foster, are bringing this moving work to the University’s Music/Mass Communication Building’s Concert Hall.
“We’re going to ask people to bring cans of food for entry, and we’re going to give them to Loaves and Fishes,” Foster said. “That feeds into the story of nobody helping the little match girl, so we’re going to make this into a philanthropy event.”
The work, which fits into the minimalist style, was also inspired by Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. This artistic combination of ideas is part of what makes the composition so compelling, Foster said.
“Lang takes the story by Hans Christian Anderson, but he puts the word ‘passion’ after it,” he said. “Usually, the passion is the story of Jesus up until the crucifixion. This is a passion story, but it’s about the little match girl.”
The November 22nd performance will feature work singers and percussion, along with Dr. George Mabry, emeritus professor of music at APSU, as a guest speaker.