On Foot Across the Solar Systems
A multimedia song cycle based on poetry by Edith Södergran
Blueprints composed by Garrett Fisher
Completed by Maria Männistö (Vocalist) | Garrett Fisher (Pianist)
July 28-29, 2023 | FinnFest, Duluth, MN
I had to cross the solar systems
before I found the first thread of my red dress.
I sense myself already.
Somewhere in space hangs my heart,
shaking the void, from it stream sparks
into other intemperate hearts.
On Foot Across the Solar Systems is a 60 minute song cycle composed by Garrett Fisher. Performed by Finnish-American vocalist Maria Männistö and the composer at piano, the work features 23 of Finnish modernist Edith Södergran's poems that explore nature, illness, and the struggle toward self-actualization. Projected timelapse footage of Finland’s epic landscape in changing light sets the work in a magical and poetic natural world that heightens the timeless, epic quality of Södergran’s words.
2023 marks the centennial of Södergran’s death and provides a compelling context to celebrate Södergran’s effervescent genius.
Maria Männistö has been hailed as “one of the most hauntingly beautiful voices I have heard in years” (Seattle Times).
ABOUT EDITH SÖDERGRAN
Although today Edith Södergran is regarded as one of Finland’s greatest twentieth century poets, when she died in poverty of tuberculosis at 31 in 1923, she had been dismissed as a mad, meglomaniac aristocrat by most of her Finnish contemporaries. Her poems are intensely visionary and have been compared with Rimbaud’s.
Södergran was no stranger to hardship. At 16 she contracted tuberculosis and lost her father to the same disease. The Bolshevic revolution left her family in abject poverty and the Finnish civil war left them isolated and in danger. Regardless, her poems tap into a spirit of resilience and joy.
She wrote in Swedish and was part of a minority Swedish-speaking culture within Finland, one that today is often subject to discrimination and is at risk of disappearing altogether. With this work not only does the team hope to bring Södergran’s work to a larger public, but to foster greater awareness of this important community.
The work has received the support of Jack Straw Cultural Center's Artist Support Program (2022, Seattle, WA).