The work is a tribute written to fellow composer Per Nørgård, who turned 90 in July this year. The title ØR refers to the concrete - the two letters that Nørgård and Tjørnhøj have in common - and a wild, abstract feeling of happiness.
In ØR, Line Tjørnhøj has taken Nørgård's piece for solo piano TURN (1973) as a starting point. "I was fascinated by the fact that the work is at once composed with enormous precision, and at the same time Nørgård has allowed great freedom in some details of the work, where the musician should, for example, continue with a certain thing for as long as he or she wants to," says Line Tjørnhøj. "It creates a kind of 'micro-infinity universe' that I have been inspired by," she says.
Although ØR is written for percussion duo and orchestra, Line Tjørnhøj has given the grand piano a central role. However, not like the traditional instrument we know, because Tjørnhøj has transformed a grand piano into a percussion instrument. "For me, the piano is in a way a picture of a rather old-fashioned ideal. A "perfect" instrument, without quarter tones, without noise," says Line Tjørnhøj. She has looked into the skeleton of the grand piano and prepared it with hammers, filters, copper screws and dampers that take shape like small creatures transforming the traditional instrument into something completely new.
Opposite the transformed grand piano, Tjørnhøj has placed the deepest sounding percussion instruments, and she thus lets the second percussion soloist play on seven timpani, which, like the piano, are prepared with copper plates. "The preparation is a comment on the whole concept of working with such a traditional set-up. It has been great fun and there is a lot of love there – also love for the traditions in music.”
Line Tjørnhøj describes her work process as intuitive, chaotic and full of imagination and joy, and in her work with ØR, she has been very excited to have the entire symphony orchestra to work with. Inspired by the "infinity universes" she found in Nørgaard's TURN, she has worked to transform the musical material over time and through the different layers of the orchestra.
ØR is premiered 25 August 19:30 in DR Koncerthuset by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra with soloists Jakob Weber and Gert Sørensen conducted by Antony Hermus. The concert programme includes Per Nørgaard's Symphony no. 8 and his violin concert Helle Nacht.