Nicolai Worsaae World Premiere

Nicolai Worsaae’s ‘PUSH’ will be premiered by the Danish National Vocal Ensemble on Friday 12 November.

Nicolai Worsaae describes PUSH as physics translated into music – a movement forward with a given resistance. We asked the composer to tell us about the piece, about his way of working with the human voice, about the text and his fascination with the aspects of struggle and resistance:

“I consider PUSH to be a rather “traditional” choral work in the way that it is not an investigation of the extreme expressions of the human voice with alternative and experimental sounds. My starting point is the ambitus of each part and I work with the timbres related to each register. In many ways, this is the same way of thinking as when I compose for instruments. There is however the small detail that in a choral work the singers must be able to intonate based on the other parts. This is not easy if you write music that is quite complex or based on an untraditional tonality. I think many composers who haven’t tried singing in a choir themselves often forget this pivotal detail. It is certainly a limitation that must be considered. Luckily the singers of the Danish National Vocal Ensemble are highly skilled.

The Danish National Vocal Ensemble. Photo: Per Morten Abrahamsen
The Danish National Vocal Ensemble. Photo: Per Morten Abrahamsen

In principle, the text could be left out, but to explain it in short, I don’t use any concrete, meaningful text like a poem or an excerpt from a literary work. I try to create dynamics or physical resistance by letting the singers sing on ‘closed consonants’ like M, N and L. These are slowly transformed into ‘Na’ and ‘La’, which then expands into very short quotes from classical choral works. They all begin with words that start with La. “Laudamus”, “Lachen” and “Lacrimosa”.

As the title might suggest, this piece is inspired by a physical movement: pushing an object. The music strives to move or push something. The singers struggle to generate sound and music. There is a resistance in that, which one might consider to be grotesque and incomprehensible from a “normal” point of view. I guess I am quite fascinated by the grotesque or the stingingly ironic. There is an energy inherent in the madness. It wants to come out, to move forward and it is contained right up until the moment where the bubble bursts. You might call it the big bang of feelings?”

Nicolai Worsaae's PUSH will premiered by the Danish National Vocal Ensemble and conductor Marcus Creed at a concert in Copenhagen featuring an extensive programme of new music that includes Jesper Koch's Imellem to blikke and Galakseflager as well as works by John Frandsen, Kristin Warfvinge, Adrianna Kubica-Cypek, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, Evagoras Solias Apokidis and Athanasia Kotronia. 

Time and place:

Friday 12 November, 19.30   

Trinitatis Kirke, Copenhagen

Info & tickets