Kim André Arnesen is one of today’s most promising young choral composers. As a child growing up in Norway, Arnesen developed a love for choral music after joining the Boys’ Choir at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. An accomplished pianist as well, he found himself most drawn to requiems, especially Mozart’s. It was in listening to these classics that Arnesen first wondered if he himself could also write music.
He purchased a music notation program and began to experiment. It did not take long for a few of his pieces to catch the attention of local musicians. Arnesen’s popularity in Norway grew quickly. By the time he completed his own Requiem, he was popular enough to have his piece “Even When He Is Silent” chosen for Christmas in Norway, a television program featuring the St. Olaf Choir broadcast nationally in Norway and by PBS in the United States.
It was during that performance that Kim Arnesen’s music caught the attention of David Donathan, director of the West Virginia Opus Chorale. Donathan was so taken by Arnesen’s music that he began searching for more information about Arnesen immediately. After an extensive search, Donathan found that Arnesen’s Requiem wasn’t in print yet. He even went so far as to contact Kim Arnesen to request the piece, which turned out to be a providential discussion. The two agreed that an American premiere of the piece was warranted and that the West Virginia Opus Chorale should be the ensemble to premiere it.
From there, Arnesen’s popularity in the United States has grown exponentially and will likely continue to increase with his Magnificat. In this piece, Arnesen explores the story of the Annunciation to Mary and what she must have felt upon being told she was to give birth to the Son of God. The piece explores themes of care for the poor, as Mary herself was of humble means, and does so beautifully.
For many in the music world, it has been an immense pleasure to watch Arnesen come into his own. No doubt, we are witnessing the rise of a new young talent who we hope will continue to grace us with his music for years to come.