Part of: Fast Forward
Theatre of Voices
·· Else Torp, Soprano
·· Iris Oja, Mezzo-Soprano
·· Paul Bentley-Angell, Tenor
·· Jakob Bloch Jespersen, Bass
Paul Hillier, Conductor
Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, Organ and Piano
James Taylor, Director
ARVO PÄRT Selected works performed with Songs from the Soil (NY Premiere), visual poem by Phie Ambo
DAVID LANG the writings (World Premiere of complete cycle)
·· again (after ecclesiastes)
·· if I am silent (co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
·· for love is strong
·· where you go
·· again (after ecclesiastes)
Support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by members of Carnegie Hall’s Composer Club.
Theatre of Voices was founded in London in 1990 by Paul Hillier. The group’s first concert in Berlin featured new works by Arvo Pärt, including the Berlin Mass. Its second concert presented music by John Cage at London’s Almeida Festival. For years, the ensemble had its base in the Bay Area, performing across North America and making various European tours; since 2003, it has been based in Copenhagen.
Theatre of Voices is counted among the world’s finest vocal ensembles. Its main focus nowadays is new music, often interwoven with early music, reflecting Mr. Hillier’s lifelong devotion to these two ends of the musical spectrum. Together, Mr. Hillier and Theatre of Voices have enjoyed close collaborations with composers and instrumental ensembles such as Steve Reich, Terry Riley, John Cage, Kronos Quartet, Ingram Marshall, John Adams, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, London Sinfonietta, Michala Petri, Fretwork, Phantasm, Concerto Copenhagen, Peter Sellars, Pablo Ortiz, Heiner Goebbels, Smith Quartet, and Meta4, plus future collaborations with Helena Tulve, Sunleif Rasmussen, John Luther Adams, and many more. This year includes a North Atlantic tour, with concerts in the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland, presenting new works from each of these locations.
In 2010—the ensemble’s 20th anniversary year—Theatre of Voices received a Grammy Award for David Lang’s the little match girl passion. The ensemble has also moved into the film world, with tracks from more than 30 of its recordings featured on movie soundtracks such as La grande bellezza and Arrival. The group has also worked on film projects with Danish documentarist Phie Ambo and Oscar-nominated Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. In 2018, the ensemble was featured in Kaija Saariaho’s opera Only the Sound Remains at the Palais Garnier, Teatro Real, and Lincoln Center, and in orchestra productions with the BBC Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra. Earlier this year, Theatre of Voices gave a sold-out concert at Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie, which included the world premiere of Michael Gordon’s A Western, based on the film High Noon.
Danish soprano Else Torp has been featured with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Gulbenkian Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, and others. She appears on more than 30 recordings of both early and contemporary music, both as a soloist and with Theatre of Voices, Ars Nova Copenhagen, London Sinfonietta, and Kronos Quartet. She has performed and recorded music and films with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.
Estonian mezzo-soprano Iris Oja holds a master’s degree in opera singing and choir conducting from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in Tallinn. She is particularly known for her interpretations of contemporary music; several Estonian and international composers have written music for her. She often performs with ensembles such as Theatre of Voices, Coro Casa da Música (where she also serves as choirmaster), YXUS Ensemble, and her own Resonabilis Ensemble.
Australian-born and now Sussex-based tenor Paul Bentley-Angell is in constant demand as a concert soloist and consort singer across Europe. He has had extensive training in many aspects of vocal performance—particularly early music—and works with many of Europe’s leading ensembles and directors, including Ars Nova Copenhagen and Theatre of Voices, as well as the Huelgas Ensemble, Polyphony, Gabrieli Consort, and Ex Cathedra.
Danish bass Jakob Bloch Jespersen is busy as both an opera and oratorio singer across Europe, performing repertoire from the 17th through 21st centuries. He has premiered several new operas, and in 2018, he featured as Leporello in Don Giovanni at Norwegian National Opera. He has collaborated with ensembles such as Concerto Copenhagen, Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, and London Sinfonietta.
For more than 40 years, Christopher Bowers-Broadbent has been the foremost British organist to specialize in contemporary repertoire—in particular, the music of Arvo Pärt, with whom he has worked closely for nearly three decades. He has commissioned, premiered, and recorded numerous works. He has served as organist of the West London Synagogue since 1973, and organist and choirmaster of Gray’s Inn Chapel in London since 1983. Besides maintaining a busy performance schedule, he is constantly composing; he finished his fourth opera, The Face, in 2012.
Paul Hillier is founder and artistic director of Theatre of Voices. Since founding The Hilliard Ensemble in 1973, his career has embraced singing, conducting, composing, and writing about music. He has taught at several US universities and served as director of the Early Music Institute at Indiana University from 1996 to 2003. Chief conductor posts have included the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (2001–2007), Ars Nova Copenhagen (since 2003), Chamber Choir Ireland (since 2008), and Coro Casa da Música in Porto (since 2008). His more than 150 recordings have earned worldwide acclaim and won numerous prizes. His books about Arvo Pärt and Steve Reich are published by Oxford University Press. Awards and decorations include the Order of the British Empire (2006), Order of the White Star of Estonia (2007), and Grammy awards for Best Choral Performance (2007) and Best Small Ensemble Performance (David Lang’s the little match girl passion, 2010). In 2013, he was made a Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog by the Queen of Denmark.
Members of the Yale Voxtet are current students of Professor James Taylor (director of the Yale Early Music Voice program) at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and Yale School of Music, where they are candidates for graduate degrees in voice. The select group of eight singers specializes in oratorio, early music, and art song. In addition to performing a variety of chamber music programs each year, the group sings, tours, and records as part of Yale Schola Cantorum.