Willem Boogman




Willem Boogman, including 5 poems by M. Vasalis


65 minutes


6S 5A 5T 5B

commissioned by

Nederlands Kamerkoor

dedicated to

Henk Boogman jr.


February 20, 2010
Concertgebouw, Amsterdam

Nederlands Kamerkoor
Klaas Stok - conductor

buy the score


La Passione della Parola

for 21-voice mixed choir (2000-2003/2004)

La Passione della Parola - Nederlands Kamerkoor


Nederlands Kamerkoor & Klaas Stok - conductor

Part I from La Passione della Parola. mp3

Part II from La Passione della Parola. mp3

Part III from La Passione della Parola & intermezzo… mp3

…. intermezzo & Part IV from La Passione della Parola. mp3

Part V from La Passione della Parola. mp3

Part VI from La Passione della Parola. mp3


The expulsion into the wilderness. The Fate.

score-sample of Exodos score sample

The resurrection from a ›graveless yesteryear‹. The Call.

La Passione della Parola-sample from part II score sample

The Word is the trace. The Element.

La Passione della Parola-sample from part III score sample

* * *

From the age-old altar rises up ›smoke‹ of words. The Dimensions.

La Passione della Parola-sample of part iv score sample


La Passione della Parola, sample of part V score sample

Beacon of light in the dark expanses. The Reach.

La Passione della Parola, sample of part VI score sample
see for more samples: Five Songs of Vasalis


La Passione della Parola-synopsis (in Dutch and English)

revision history

April 2010
  • corrections were made
  • the readability of certain text characters was improved
  • small changes in the music
  • extra performance material is available to avoid awkward page turns

program note | toelichting (NL)

On 7 January 1998 I had a very special conversation with the then artistic director of the Nederlands Kamerkoor, Ivar Munk, which resulted in the programming of my work Die Rose and a commission for a new choral work for the millennium celebration in the year 2000.
In the end the composition of La Passione della Parola required far more time than I had envisaged. Lasting a full hour and consisting of several sections, the ›Passion of the Word‹ took on the scale and structure of a classical Passion.

The beginning
The millennium celebration refers to the year zero, to the beginning of a new calendar, but above all to the making of a new start in the midst of all kinds of already existing traditions, such as the Jewish Faith and the Ancient Greek and Roman cultures. In any case the Christian tradition lays claim to a beginning that is constantly renewing itself. La Passione della Parola is about the making of a beginning.

The Word
No new beginning without an absolute moment, as is so aptly expressed in St. John’s verse: »In the beginning was the Word« – with a capital letter. Without this Word »was not anything made that was made. In the Word was life.« (John 1:3-4)
The Word lives, suffering in profound forlornness, because It desires and strives after Its lofty purpose, which consists of the eternal union with God. Dying and the return to this life complete the movement of the Word that belongs with a constantly renewed beginning.
This pattern forms the content of La Passione della Parola, with the qualification that for me the union with God is not a matter of faith, and that I cannot read the term ›Word‹ without thinking of all possible words that possess the poetic potential of being ›the Word‹ – even if only once.
In other words, the beginning of the establishment of meaning, of art, by means of the movement of still unarticulated elements and remains of text, tone, noise and letters, is the theme of La Passione della Parola…

Text and music
The text consists of a network of quotations plus texts of my own, some of which are borrowed from programme notes for other works of mine. Five poems by M. Vasalis have been set to music in their entirety, and serve as hinge points between the six sections. As the Five Songs of Vasalis they are published separately by Donemus, Amsterdam.
In the musical sense this network materialised because La Passione della Parola moves between remembered and elementary, rotating music. There are references to the sections of the Mass and to the Passion music of Bach.
The texts are very light in nature, packed with events, motifs, tracks, traces, resonances and overtones, and form the ›narrow‹ space that my music occupies. It’s a very tight fit.

Only he who in his narrowness counted the elements
(-) makes the final sound (-)
Lucebert, ›the end‹ from the collection: van de afgrond en de luchtmens (1953)

(translation: Robert Coupe)


Choir I consists of ›tutti‹ singers. The sopranos can be subdivided into two groups: S1 and S2 (the higher voices from which S1 is a high soprano) and S3 and S4 (slightly lower sopranos). S5 is a soloist and should have a good low register as well as a good high register. The altos may be mezzo-sopranos, but A3 should have quite a good low register. T3 is a high tenor, T2 and T5 may be ›lower‹ than T1 and T4. A few ›basses‹ may have voices approaching a baritone range, but B4 must be a true low bass and B3 flexible baritone. Choir II consists of singers accustomed to performing as soloists (S5, A4, T3 and B3). Choir III consists of a harmonious, flexible quintet.


The set-up must be followed (see score) in order for the music to be heard optimally by the audience (the rotations of sound and the various groups). This means that the performance requires a wide stage or performance space. If the choir were to stretch out in a single line, the distance from S1 to S6 would be at least 16 metres. A slightly curved line (see score) is ideal. Should the choir stand in a semicircle, the distance between S1 and S6 would be approximately 8.5 m. Such a formation is less than ideal, because the outside singers would then sing more towards the centre of the circle, rather than in the direction of the audience. The stage must therefore be a minimum of 8.5 m wide and ideally at least 16 m wide.

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