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Danish premiere of Pernille Louise Sejlund’s Stringing the Beads

The Danish guitar sextet, CRAS Ensemble, invited a composer from each of the Nordic countries to create a joint work. The resulting work, THINGS WE USED TO HOLD ON TO, is performed at KLANG Festival on 2 June. Pernille Louise Sejlund tells about her part of the work.

Pernille Louise Sejlund's piece is called Stringing the Beads. "The title refers, among others, to a kind of "gathering technique" I have used a lot myself," the composer explains. "When a group of people meet, they will start their meeting/rehearsal etc. sitting in front of each other and in a few words, one-by-one, tell how they mentally arrive for the day. The group answers everyone "in choir" by saying "Ho" = "We see you and hear you". This creates a united and empathic vibe for the group of people and makes room for everyone to arrive and be where they mentally are at that exact moment."

The title came to mind based on the whole process of creating the work. "CRAS had taken the initiative to host two four-day workshops where all six composers and the ensemble could get to know each other and be inspired," Pernille Louise Sejlund tells and continues: "As a composer, it is often a quite lonely process to write music, so it was nice to have this cosy and inspiring life around you for a change. I arrived for the first workshop without a lot of ideas and was inspired by that forum."

The idea of the beads on a string is also expressed in the music where the guitars alternate between being a unit individually and becoming one unit together. "It is that cohesion - the individual in the community - which has been the focal point of the composition," Pernille Louise Sejlund tells, and adds that piece has a meditative, minimalist expression. 

The piece also contains relatively free sections where the musicians to a large extent shape the music themselves, based on instructions from the composer. "Roughly speaking, they must sense each other rather than look at the notes,” Pernille Louise Sejlund explains and concludes: "It invites the musicians (and the listeners) to exercise being present, being in the now, in the music. Hopefully, the audience will experience the piece as a journey into a meditative universe. They will be bathed in harmonies and atmospheres and may be drawn into the cohesion that arises between the six musicians"

Besides from Pernille Louise Sejlund, the joint work consists of pieces composed by Zoe Efstathiou, Anna Katrin Egilstrøð, Kristin Bolstad, Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir and Maija Hynninen.

The work is performed 2 June at 21:30 in KoncertKirken in Copenhagen. Find more information about the concert here.