David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2008. The following year Paul Hillier and Theater of Voices won a Grammy for their recording of the work, which is a tour de force of emotive power and subdued brilliance based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story The Little Match Girl.
Using only four voices and a smattering of unorthodox percussion instruments, Lang created a work that is intended to bond an audience in a communal experience of suffering, much like Bach’s St. Matthew Passion; a work that inspired the Little Match Girl Passion and is intimately connected to it through Lang’s allusions to the St. Matthew Passion text, format and style.
Above all else, Lang says he wanted the work to make a listener feel something. Lang has created a secular masterpiece that is still overflowing with a sacred sensibility. Capital Public Radio Classical Host Cale Wiggins recently sat down with Insight’s Beth Ruyak to share his love and admiration for this work.