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The Arts Intel Report

A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler
A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler

David Lang's "The Little Match Girl Passion"

Members of Ekmeles, the vocal group performing The Little Match Girl Passion.

Dec 8–12, 2023
550 W 155th St, New York, NY 10032, United States

Charles Dickens’s humanistic holiday ghost story, A Christmas Carol, has a tender touchstone in Tiny Tim. But he is no match for the metaphysical transport of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Match Girl. Hardly four pages long, the story tells of a poor little girl, “bareheaded and barefoot,” who tries to sell matches on a snowy New Year’s Eve, her feet “red and blue with cold.” No one is buying and for heat she lights the matches, one by one, each small flame bringing a vision of transcendence. David Lang’s choral work, based on Andersen and drawing formal inspiration from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2008. It is now considered a classic—but one that haunts. Presented by Death of Classical, The Little Match Girl Passion is performed by the new music vocal group Ekmeles. —Laura Jacobs

Photo courtesy of Death of Classical