Jesper Koch (b. 1967)
Jesper Koch began composing when he was 11 years old. His sonority-based musical idiom, which sometimes tends towards the minimalist, has a personal tone that testifies to a poetic disposition. A performance at the Fifth Danish Composers' Biennial of his tone poem Alice under Skies from 1998 was accorded the praise that one could almost hear little rabbits hopping across the meadow! As the title suggests, the work was inspired by Lewis Carroll's famous children's book Alice in Wonderland. The work was premiered by Collegium Musicum and Owain Arwel Hughes in the year of its composition.
Koch has studied with among others Andy Pape, Karl Aage Rasmussen, Olav Anton Thommesen and Colin Mathews. In 1992, with the work Ice-Breaking for two accordions and percussion, he won First Prize at ROSTRUM in Paris in the category for composers under 30. He was awarded the Carl Nielsen Grant for Composers in 1988, and six years later he received the three-year working grant of the National Arts Foundation.
At the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen he studied composition with Ib Nørholm, Hans Abrahamsen and Ivar Frounberg. Jesper Koch made his official debut from the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Aarhus in 1997. His debut concert demonstrated the broad palette with which Jesper Koch paints: Images of Lorca for piano solo, Dreamchild for flute, viola and harp, Down The Rabbit-Hole for wind quintet, Three portraits with shadows for mezzo-soprano and chamber ensemble to texts by Lorca. And last but not least - Jabberwocky for solo accordion, an instrument of which Jesper Koch is particularly fond. Ice-Breaking has already been mentioned, but Diversions for accordion and orchestra should also be mentioned. Since his debut Koch has composed many works, commissioned for example by the Odense Symphony orchestra, Collegium Musicum Copenhagen and most recently the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra. In 2001 he was appointed composer-in-residence for the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra. Several of Koch's chamber works have been released on the Kontrapunkt label under the title Jesper Koch, Chamber Music 1.
Besides the Nordic countries, Jesper Koch's music has been performed in Austria, Holland, Canada and France. "With its deep fundamental tone and its vocal and instrumental articulation, the work extends beyond the concept of Danish music, and has a wide international horizon," Professor Jan Maegaard has said of his music. The ability to elucidate musical structures from different angles and the coloristically aware interplay of harmony and instrumentation demonstrate a compositional scope with a convincing inner logic. His works are carefully conceived with a sure sense of form and structure, where all superfluous formulations have been peeled away so that the idea appears as the overall unifying factor.
The reviewers have long agreed on his great imaginative storytelling talent and humorous elements. But the humour is combined with a rigorous aesthetic that makes Koch careful in his choice of resources. Perhaps that is precisely why his stories are so distinctly outlined. "Modernism with atmospheric images" could be the heading for Koch's music.