In May 2024 the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra continue their celebration of Anders Hillborg at 70 with two concerts: on 8 May Marie Jacquot conducts the Swedish premiere of Méditations sur Pétrarque, with Emmanuelle Laville as oboe soloist, and on 17 and 18 May Roberto González-Monjas conducts Hillborg’s Eleven Gates. The orchestra led Hillborg’s 70th birthday celebrations Jubilee Concert in January with Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Méditations sur Pétrarque is scored for solo oboe, harp, piano, percussion, and strings. The 13-minute work premiered in 2009 with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra with Lajos Lences as soloist, conducted by Anton Zapf. In it, the oboe spins reflective, rhapsodic lines, with flashes of more ornate figuration in its freewheeling soliloquies. These quasi-improvisatory episodes are punctuated by dramatic interludes from the orchestra, with clamorous writing for piano, harp, tubular bells, glockenspiel, and crotales bursting through thick string textures at intensely expressive climaxes.

Eleven Gates – “hugely entertaining, sonically enveloping music” (LA Times, Mark Swed) – is a 19-minute piece that passes through eleven thresholds of musical perception. They are evocatively named: ‘Suddenly in the Room with Floating Mirrors’; ‘D-major Still Life’; ‘Confused Dialogues with Woodpecker’; ‘Waves, Pulse, and Elastic Seabirds’. The orchestral effects are just as startling and imaginative as Hillborg’s titles suggest – percussion and harp sparkle in the dreamy ‘Toypianos on the Surface of the Sea’; a tender oboe solo unfurls over shimmering blocks of strings in ‘Meadow of Sadsongs’.

Esa-Pekka Salonen, one of Hillborg’s key musical supporters, premiered the piece with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2006. The Swedish Radio Symphony previously performed the piece with Daniel Harding in 2010; it was featured by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sakari Oramo at the BBC’s Total Immersion focus in 2020. Roberto González-Monjas performed the piece in November 2023 with the Orquestra Sinfónica de Galicia.

Klaus Mäkelä is also among the conductors who have taken up Eleven Gates, performing it with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in April 2022. On 9 May 2025 Mäkelä premieres a new work by Hillborg at the Concertgebouw as part of the Mahler Festival 2025, commissioned by the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and the Mahler Foundation. In the 24/25 season he will also join Emanuel Ax for the Norwegian premiere of Hillborg’s Piano Concerto No.2 – the MAX Concerto – in November 2024.