Seven Last Words – No Saviour on the Cross

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Project Description

The PODIUM Esslingen has chosen Joseph Haydn’s orchestral work composed in 1787, “The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross” as the basis for a new, participatively developed musical production. In response to our current existential crises, the project encourages young people to engage in dialogue and come up with seven new last words of humanity in place of Jesus’s final words, which will then be integrated into contemporary scores in contrast to the original Christian tenets.

These seven new last words will be discussed and selected at seven different workshops, each of which will address scenarios of crisis, such as the crisis facing democracy, human-induced climate change or societal division. These and other topics will be viewed from the perspective of various scientific disciplines, e.g. sociology/political science, medicine, psychology, religious studies, climate science, astrophysics and computer science/artificial intelligence (AI). In addition to experts from these fields, pupils, students and professional trainees will take part in the discursive workshops with one young author in charge of determining the new last word. The resulting words will serve as the basis for seven compositions which will be developed by young composers, such as Ying Wang, Anahita Abbasi and inti figgis-vizueta. All the pieces will be composed by women, except for the piece composed for the seventh final word which will integrate an AI in cooperation with the AI researchers Prof. Dr Christóbal Curio and Dr Johannes Stelzer.

The new compositions will be performed at the PODIUM Esslingen festival 2023 in seven workshop concerts, and the final overall production will be presented together with Haydn’s original work. The entire development process lasting several months will be documented on film and presented in a 30-minute documentary.


Artistic director: Joosten Ellée
Company/ensemble/orchestra: ensemble reflektor
Composers: Anahita Abbasi, Farzia Fallah, inti figgis-vizueta, Emma O’Halloran, Ying Wang
Experts: Jan Bürger, Cristóbal Curio, Johannes Stelzer

Performances: Stadtkirche St. Dionys, Esslingen: 28 Apr. 2023; Stiftskirche, Tübingen: 27 Aug. 2023; Kirchengemeinde St. Michael, Lüneburg: 3 Nov. 2023