When the composer Gustav Mahler was diagnosed with a fatal heart disease, he wrote to a friend:
‘I have lost everything I have gained in terms of who I thought I was, and I have to learn my first steps again like a newborn.’
It was in this mood that Mahler wrote ‘Das Lied von der Erde’. The last of these songs, ‘Der Abschied’, was to be one of his most personal works, one that reflected his state of mind. Man’s struggle with his mortality, in contrast with nature, which is eternal and constantly renewing itself.
In FOREVER, Grace Ellen Barkey raises the same questions as Mahler: ‘No one can sustain constant praise of life. Death or, rather, the finiteness of human life deserves a song or a dance too.’
The song, and also the orchestration, is sung in an intimate setting as a recollection by Maarten Seghers, backed up by the dancers and the installation. The score of Mahler’s ‘Der Abschied’ is visible in the choreography of FOREVER.