– Chamber Opera on loneliness –
“It is a huge taboo, which the cello personality and composer Josefine Opsahl tackles with in her opera performance ‘Hjem’. The taboo is loneliness. And because acts so fearlessly, the project succeeds. It is shocking to enter the former isolation prison Vridsløselille and feel the loneliness in Josefine Opsahl’s new total opera ‘Hjem’.”
Loneliness has many faces, living next door to each other. The opera ‘HJEM’ takes the essence of loneliness and leads it slowly and lovingly further into the light towards community. You can look forward to a surprising, genre-bending and deeply humanistic opera experience at the world premiere at Porten, the former Vridsløselille State Prison.
The opera was commissioned by Stine Rejnholdt and Copenhagen Opera Festival. It was premiered at Copenhagen Opera Festival August 2023 and received rave reviews.
‘The hand is the visible part of the brain’ – Immanuel Kant
‘HANDS’ is commissioned by Århus Sinfonietta and SPOT Festival (DK). World premiere in The Symphonic Hall in Musikhuset Aarhus during SPOT Festival May 2023 with Århus Sinfonietta+ and Josefine Opsahl as the cello soloist.
In ‘Hands’ Concerto for Cello and Orchestra Opsahl investigates the use and symbolic importance of the soloist’s and the orchestra’s hands being transmitters of sound and core medias for human expression. The work reflects upon the balance and interdependency between body and mind; nature and culture, integration and disintegration of those two human aspects in a modern world increasingly ruled by the computerized, alienating, yet alleged extended human mind.
Humankind’s evolutionary development takes a quantum leap when man arises from the ground. This enables the species to use its hands for new purposes and quickly leads to the creation of tools. Along with the motor development of the hands the human brain matures accordingly and results in the formation of refined systems, societies, cultures and expressions.
– Chamber Opera –
– “DrømmeDøden Opera is a musical sensation” –
Chamber Opera for 5 voices, violin, cello, double bass, percussion and spinet. The opera was comissioned by Nordic Opera, libretto by Merete Pryds Helle, dramaturgical guidance by Michaela Granit and it is kindly supported by The Danish Arts Foundation alongside Dansk Komponistforening. The work is published by Editing Wilhelm Hansen. For any inquiries regarding the score contact Edition Wilhelm Hansen.
Premiere at Den Ny Opera in Esbjerg (DK) May 8th-9th 2022.Then touring to Folkoperan in Stockholm (SE), Skuespilhuset at The Royal Theatre in Copenhagen (DK), Halland Opera and Vocal Festival and Kalmar Slot (SE) dates TBA.
“The Music is rich with vividly changeable embellishments, melancholic folkloristic beauty and off guard captivating, dramatic highlights. A great achievement by Josefine Opsahl “
“DrømmeDøden is a good bet for this year’s most captivating chamber opera in Denmark.”
Sune Anderberg, Kristeligt Dagblad (DK)
The concert PILLARS revisit masterpieces by Johann Sebastian Bach reflected in electroacoustic works by Danish composer and cellist Josefine Opsahl. Unfolding between Bach’s majestic works as pillars for the concert to rest upon, Josefine Opsahl interprets, mirrors and illuminates essences of the music in the meeting with her quadraphonic work EKKLESIATERION as well as in new works for her own cello and electronics. In PILLARS’ intersection between masterpieces and contemporary reflections the listener is invited on a journey into the very core of the analogue cello body and elevated towards weightless, ambient and symphonic altitudes as time and timelessness melt together in a vibrating now.
J.S. Bach has been regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time and his works continuously inspire and teach listeners, musicians, composers and scholars to express themselves, to create, to listen and to be present with music. His legacy has constituted a strong foundation for generations after his own to build upon – like a framework of pillars for new thought and creation. His Six Suites for Solo Cello lies at the heart of music lovers and of cello playing transcending space and time and will be re-explored in the concert among other of his central works.
EKKLESIATERION (2021) for solo cello and quadraphonic sound system by Josefine Opsahl was originally created for Roskilde Festival (DK) and Intonal Festival (SE). The work is an exploration of time and place, bodies and sonic bodies correlating. It’s acoustic and electronic, real and surreal, intimate and cosmic sound worlds interfere and call upon ancient rituals and foundations for democracy. The quadraphonic sound system manifests as four bearing pillars of sound animating Glassalen in a force field of resonance that brings performer and audience together in a praise of sensing collectively. The work’s sound worlds draws on inspiration from classical, neoclassical, techno and cinematic music using samples of inner sounds of the cello body to break down and rebuild the idea of an acoustic instrument body.
‘DREI BEWEGUNGEN DES ELEKTRISCHEN KöRPERS’
Work for male-voice choir, woodwind quintet, solo cello, live electronics and 6 ballet dancers. Written in honor of Her Majesty The Queen of Denmark and premiered at her galla dinner at Deutsche Historisches Museum in Berlin during her official state visit November 11th 2021. Repremiere in Tivoli Concert Hall June 23rd .
The piece featured The Royal Danish Ballet in a new choreography by Artistic Director of the ballet Nikolaj Hübbe, The Copenhagen Royal Chapel Choir conducted by Chief Conductor Carsten Seyer-Hansen and Livgardens Musikkorps playing. Dar Salim lead us all elegantly through the evening.
IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE ANYTHING TO ME
For solo cello and electronics and 4 performers. Rework of ‘Drei Bewegungen des Elektrischen Körpers’. Premiered at Enter Art Fair August 2022 as a total artwork by composer JOSEFINE OPSAHL (DK) and visual artist JULES FISCHER (DK) with performers BECK HEIBERG, SALL LAM TORO, ANDREAS HAGLUND AND JUPITER CHILD and with cellist HRAFNHILDUR MARTA GUðMUNDSDÓTTIR.
The title refers to the sci-fi series Westworld. The phrase is a fail-save response to encounters which make the hosts (robots) question their own reality. In the setting of an Art Fair one might wonder who are hosts and who are guests?
SEIDR work in the intersection between the real and the surreal.
‘Seidr’ was a type of magic which was practised in Norse society during the Late Scandinavian Iron Age. The practice of seidr is believed to be a form of magic which is related to both the telling and the shaping of the future.
Drawing in the old Norse tradition of ‘Seidr’ the work unfold around the solo viola as the seidr practitioner. The viola both speak a common (musical) language and master strange rhymes, phrases and spells that evoke the forces of other worlds and dimensions.
The seidr practitioner was often times helped in the rituals by villagers singing along with the spells to call upon spirits. In the piece the viola player will be adding voice in short passagers and the use of transfigured voices is prominent in the electronics throughout the piece.
Through the piece the barrier between the ‘real world’ – represented by the acoustic viola and a ‘surreal’, mythical, timeless world – represented in the evoked electronics – melts away due to the actions of the viola player being the seidr practitioner.
I WALK I BLEED
– 10 processes of humankind –
For 10 celli. Commissioned by and premiered at Click Festival (DK) September 5th 2020. Repremiere at Sort/Hvid November 11th-13th 2021. Choreography developed in collaboration with Simone Wierød, stage design by Ida Grarup, costumes by Stina Resting, light design by Balder Nørskov.
– EKKLESIATERION –
Ekklesiaterion is an exploration of time and place, bodies and sonic bodies correlating. In an hour long performance Josefine Opsahl animates and surrounds the listener in a quadraphonic force field of sound that brings performer and audience together in a praise of sensing collectively. Acoustic and electronic, real and surreal, intimate and the cosmic interfere and calls upon ancient rituals and foundations for democracy.
Quadrophonic sound design made in collaboration with Tomas Kærup.
– GENDER DIVERSE OPERA –
An exploratorium of the opera as a diverse, including and contemporary genre through a gender diverse and norm critical perspective lead by OperArkitekterne c/o conductor Rose Munk Heiberg and composer Josefine Opsahl.
The project took its first steps in a workshop in collaboration with Sort/Hvid in Copenhagen, May 2021. A full opera and a podcast of the thoughts behind and the progress is in the making.
– MOVEMENTS OF THE BODY ELECTRIC –
A concert trilogy created for the Ambereum Stage at Roskilde Festival 2021 exploring sound and movement in a juxtaposition of the most bare acoustic sound worlds interfering with digital – a real world interfering with otherworldly altitudes questioning: where are our real and digital bodies heading anno 2021? (Concert Trilogy premiere postponed due to covid-19, preview of the work at GRASP Festival 2021, DK).
Movement 1: The Body Instrument // The Divine Body: Solo cello and electronics. ‘To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough’
Early day concert. Starting from bare acoustic sounds, the cello unfolds its deep and dark tones. Its register similar to the human voice. A dancer extends and completes the musical body. This integrated body instrument moves and evolves organically in the field of exploring movement before sound and sound before movement. The intimate touch of the sound and the sight of the body moving accordingly surrounds the observer in curious, breathing, laughing flesh. As the shared gentle intimacy unfolds the movements awaken unearthly layers of sound – an electrified dimension – as in a shamanistic rite. Electronic manipulations of the cello rises as spiritual mirrors of the scenery and its divine body gradually manifests meanwhile the body instrument praises this invisible, mystic, unearthly divinity of an electrified, digitalised world.
Movement 2: The Sonic Body // Sonic Lithographies: Solo cello, 8 instruments and Mårten Spångberg’s 4 dancers. ‘The universe is a procession with measured and perfect motion. All is a procession’
– Evening concert. Sonic Lithographies reflect alien fierceness of an electrified world that society is built upon without questioning its strange and inhuman nature. Flesh, wood, hair, bone and metal examine its own substance and unites into an organic imprint of electronic music – a sonic lithography. Praising the collective movement and the perfect design and motion of the universe a solo cello and 8 percussionists perform Sonic Lithographies in an acoustic sound installation. The instruments unite in an eternal pulse and synchronicity that puts us in a trance and reminds us of our shared biology and body processes that praises the ‘join(ing) in movement with one purpose: curious sympathy’ as Walt Whitman writes.
Movement 3: The Collective Body // The Body Electric. Solo cello and Techno duo Feat. M€RCY. ‘Do you think matter has cohered together from its diffuse float, and the soil is on the surface, and water runs and vegetation sprouts, For you only, and not for him and her?’
Late evening concert. The cello, a historical, elegant instrument unites with rough electronic instruments of our time and all instruments’ divine superior – the computer. Their integrated techno sounds all draw on samples, live sounds and noise from a cello and reflects a union of dissimilarities mirrored in time, place, human thought and creation. The performance celebrates mass movement, unisonity, the closeness and intensity of bodies moving for a common cause. Independent of genres and rules of expression the omnipresent sound and rhythm breaks down all reason for differentiation. The before, the now and the time to come melts into movement without age and bonds that unites us in shared curious sympathy. The ‘curious sympathy (that) one feels when feeling with the hand the naked meat of the body, O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul, O I say now these are the soul!’
– RELIEVO –
Residency at Thorvaldsens Museum in Copenhagen. A series of pieces for chamber ensemble reflecting on the relief, its meaning then and now, its motifs, structure and the phenomenon of projecting from but belonging to the wall. Concerts and performance dates TBA summer 2022.
Photo by Anna Bogaciovas
– ALONE IN THE BLACK DIAMOND –
Live-stream solo performance during lock-down in the Old Reading Room of the empty Royal Library in Copenhagen / The Black Diamond. Contemplating over the art of handwriting, the importance of the connection and balance between mind, thought, body, hands, time, space, isolation and togetherness in old crafts like writing and performing on an analogue instrument.
– BIRDS OF DEíA –
‘Birds of Deía’ Piano Quartet, written for Alfredo Oyaguez Quartet. Premiered at Deia International Music Festival, Mallorca (SP) June 2021.
Photo by Lis Kasper Bang
Nōlī turbāre circulōs meōs
‘Nōlī turbāre circulōs meōs’, chamber piece for 10 players.
Photo by Anna Bogaciovas
‘Nōlī turbāre circulōs meōs’means ‘Do not disturb my Circles’ and is what the Greek mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and engineer Archimedes said to a Roman soldiers when he asked him about the structures he was drawing in the dirt. The Roman Soldier subsequently killed him. (approx 210 BC)
Archimedes is today perceived as one of the most important founders of our perception of logic, philosophy, geometry and mathematics.
The story of his circles and his death is a typical image of how even slight differences in behaviour or thought point us out as misfits in our uniform society.
The sound world of ‘Nōlī turbāre circulōs meōs’ is based on imprints of electronically damaged sounds. It reflects the alien fierceness of an electrified world that society is built upon without questioning its strange and inhuman nature. Musical fragments are thrown around as acoustic delays, loops and feedbacks between the instruments of the ensemble as were the fragments statements repeating themselves like in a echo chamber – the truth gradually distorting.
The piece works around musical phenomenons that mirror aspects of human behaviour in society and dives into structures as the collective: the unison, the individual: freedom of pitch – freedom of speech, monologue, dialogue, conversation, symmetri and geometrical figures with an emphasis on rhythm as the spine of the music and the everlasting collective puls that reminds us that we are all the same blood, bone, spine, ribs – and therefore interleaved as species and inhabitants on the earth.
‘Nōlī turbāre circulōs meōs’ calls upon collective movements that embraces collectivity as well as the unique human being. Everyone has an individual thought and a voice just as important as the other.
It reminds us to be conscious human beings and citizens together in a constantly changing globalised, digitalised and electrified world.
TOWN WILL CHANGE TOWN WILL REMAIN
For solo cello and electronics or string ensemble. Written for the opening of the Copenhagen Museum, February 7th. Performed by cellist Toke Møldrup with live electronics by Josefine Opsahl at the balustrade as a fanfare for the opening when HM The Queen of Denmark declared the museum open.
Photo by Anna Bogaciovas
The city of Copenhagen wanted a carillon for the brand new Copenhagen Town Hall when built 1892-1905. The city commissioned 5 bells: 4 melodic ones and a 5th deeper one for the clock strokes. That was what the city could afford at the time. Composer Thomas Laub was hired to write 4 musical phrases for the melodic bells in a style that mirrored the old nordic style of the building. The bells rang for the first time on new year’s eve 1899-1900 and led the city into a new century. Since then the bells have praised the new year welcome and strikes everyday at 12am, 6pm and 12pm.
‘Town will change town will remain’ calls upon the same musical phrases. They remind us that we are Copenhageners, that we within changing times and globalisation, are rooted in a Nordic tradition. The Bells gives us a point of reference for time and direction to understand our life from – in our everyday life and life in general, in the city off Copenhagen and the whole country.
GAAER SOELS OG MAANES VEI IKKE NED UNDER DYBE HAV?
For solo cello and electronics or string ensemble
Created for the National Gallery of Denmark and the Danish Golden Age Exhibition, ‘Art between two disasters’, fall 2019. The piece mirrors Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann’s painting, ‘Mermaid’ (1847) and explores the mermaid as a uniter of opposites. The piece was premiered by cellist Toke Møldrup in the exhibition, October 30 2019.
Painting. by Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann
Using extended playing techniques acoustic instruments reflects alien fierceness of an electronic world that we build society upon without questioning its strange and inhuman nature.
Furthermore ‘Sonic Lithographies’ is a manifestation of how to establish rules and meaning as a basis for composing in a musical world where the imprint of electronic musical instruments has greatly surpassed any acoustic instrument by being able to sound like anything we can possibly imagine. This has confused the notion of geographical and historical affiliation in modern music which has furthermore superseded the division into musical genres. ‘Sonic Lithographies’ therefore seeks simplicity for musical exploration: wood, hair, bone, metal, catgut strings of acoustic instruments – simple raw materials that we ourself is build of.
Works in this series:
– 7 Concert Studies for solo cello
– 3 Movements for cello and guitar
– Concert for solo cello and 8 percussionists (work in progress)
Video of ‘Sonic Lithographies Suite’ for cello and guitar, live performance, Festival Músic Estranha, Sao Paulo 2019.
Video of Concert Study No. 5 ‘Ribs’ from ‘Sonic Lithographies’ for solo cello, live at San Cataldo Monastery, Amalfi Coast, 2018.
For solo cello and electronics. ‘Liquid Entity’ is composed for the Utzon100 celebration 2018 and the opening of the ‘Horisont’ exhibition in Utzon Center, Denmark. The piece is inspired by the life of Jørn Utzon; his work, travels, inspirations and lifelong connection with his homeland and the ocean.
Within a baroque framework inspired Utzon’s own musical inspiration C.P.E. Bach, the music flows and breaks into exploring different shapes of water. Unfolding in the field between classical cello and electroacoustic waves the piece evolves around an intersection of tradition and intuition, culture and nature – the modern and the timeless in a streamning continuum.
Outfit by designer Stina Resting
Video by Asbjørn Rosenlund Bang
‘Aeon’ means ‘eternity’ in Greek and is the term for the deity of time. It is a heavy eternity characterized by endless and almost meaningless repetition. A reflection of what rules the lives of a great number of people inhibiting the western civilised world today.
The protagonist in ‘Aeon’, the cellist, is a picture of the individual’s struggle to push the established framework, to express itself, to manifest itself and break the cycles but for the great systems of the universe, the effort is pointless. However, the effort and the art of the struggle is beautiful regardless – and perhaps the utmost beauty lies in daring to acknowledge the pointlessness and cultivate it.
Photo from video by Asbjørn Rosenlund
– BYEN MED DET GIFTIGE VAND –
Photo by Mette Genet
– IKERASAK –
Photo by Christian Vium
– Duften af Humulus Lupulus –
Opera in three acts for solo cello, hobs, glasses, house, garden, viewers and electronics. Premiering at KOLONIEN III, Stikkelsbærstien 6, Rødovre. Created in collaboration with Kunstforeningen KOLONIEN, Marie Braad Larsen and Jette Hye Jin Mortensen.
Premiered at Nordic Chamber Music Festival 2017.
‘8 Circles’ explores a feminin approach to sound making, composing and notating. The 8 pieces relate to the planets of our solar system, to 8 as a sign for infinity, its mirroring symbol as two sides of one case. Finally the circles are inspired by artwork of the Swedish abstract painter Hilma af Klint (1862-1944).
4 of ‘Eight Circles’ featured in this video recorded by sound engineer Peter Larsen live at Nordic Chamber Music Festival 2017: ’88 Days’, ‘Devoted – Devoured’, ‘Piper’s Lung’ and ‘Pendulum’.
PIECES FOR QUARTET
– As we Run we Fall –
– Encrypto –
– Stratosphere –
– Water Walk –
(for KOTTOS quartet)
– I –
– Dark Waters –
(for We like We)