Photo: Morten Lindberg


NJORD Biennale 2020 is proud to present one of the North's most striking figures in the area of contemporary classical music as this year's composer in residence: Lasse Thoresen.

For five decades, Norwegian composer, Lasse Thoresen (b.1949) has composed works deeply rooted in the Nordic folk tradition and has carved out a career as a virtuosic innovator in this field.

Lasse Thoresen has sought inspiration from folk music, French spectral music, the father of musique concrete Pierre Schaeffer and the American composer Harry Partch and has been described as a composer of contradictions. With his compositions, which include chamber music, symphonies and vocal works, he has demonstrated an exceptional breadth of style as well as the ability to unify the seemingly non-unifiable.

Unique folk harmonies and rhythms mix together with the European avantgarde as he time after time composes groundbreaking works, which both challenge and mirror conventions in western art music in an unconventional manner.

Central to Thoresen's work is the exploration of music as a form of articulation. 

Complex sound structures and varied sources of inspiration develop in Thoresen's hands into an experience which professes something universal about man's existence, spirit and nature. An undercurrent of untapped natural power and a sensitivity to the spiritual dimensions of man can be found in all of his works.

As NJORD 2020's composer in residence, Lasse Thoresen will put his haunting musical fingerprint on this year's three themes: THE ETHNIC NORTH, INTERNAL & EXTERNAL FREEDOM, and IMPRESSIONS.

For the opening concert, Lasse Thoresen will, alongside others, represent THE ETHNIC NORTH with a premiere on Danish soil. With excerpts from his work 'Lyden af Arktis', Thoresen invites us to an audio-visual expedition deep into the artic wastelands featuring psalms, joiks, bird droppings, rattling brooks and splitting icebergs.

Under the theme INTERNAL & EXTERNAL FREEDOM, Thoresen presents yet another Danish premiere with the work 'Prison Poems' which is based on the Iranian poet Mahvash Sabet's collection of poems under the same name. This work explores the relationship between physical confinement and spiritual development under inhuman conditions in an Iranian prison. 

Last but not least, Lasse Thoresen contributes to the theme IMPRESSIONS with three chamber works which call upon the elements of water, light and air in NJORD 2020's late night concert programme.

Lasse Thoresen is a professor of composition at Norges Musikkhøgskole, where he has taught composition, sonology and electro-acoustic music since 1975.

He has received both national and international recognition and a number of prizes such as the Norwegian Society of Composers’ ”Composition of the Year” award in 1981, 1992, 1994, the kritikerpris in 1987, Prix Italia, Prix Jacques DURAND and in 2010 he was awarded the prestigious Nordic Music Prize for his cutting-edge work with vocal technicians and the vocal sextet, Nordic Voices, for his Vocal Sextet op.42.

NJORD | Jan 30 – Feb 02 2020 | Copenhagen

NJORD is Copenhagen's biennale for new Nordic music and art. The biennale brings together composers, visual artists, musicians, poets, and directors in Nordic collaboration on a number of cross-artistic projects.