The sound of Denmark’s colonization of Greenland

Tivoli, Copenhagen · The Danish colonization of Greenland remains a special chapter of Danish history, but it’s seldom the subject of new music. “Civilizations”, Niels Rønsholdt’s new ensemble work, proves an exception.

Photo: Lars Svankjær

The Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen has always been a vital part of the classical music scene in Denmark, and this summer is no exception, as Tivoli will host one of the highlights of this year’s KLANG Festival.

In the Tivoli Concert Hall, Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen will perform an exciting programme featuring works by Per Nørgård, György Ligeti, James Black – and the world premiere of Niels Rønsholdt’s Civilizations. The concert will be broadcast live on Danish radio.

With Civilisations Rønsholdt explores Denmark’s colonization of Greenland, a chapter in Danish history that is – to say the least – rarely the topic of new music.

The colony
It has been more than a hundred years since the 1905 Tivoli exhibition of the Danish colonies – an example of early-20th-century racism – in which Greenland was depicted as home to a primitive people.

At the Athelas Sinfonietta concert, singers from Greenland will take part in Civilizations, mixing native song traditions and Western art music. “Being a kind of actual colonization of the traditional material, the piece itself and its compositional method becomes an analogy to Denmark’s colonization of Greenland,” Rønsholdt says. “Sort of a micro-scale re-enactment.”

More works by Niels Rønsholdt will be performed at the KLANG Festival: Ensemble SCENATET performs Shame (2016) for voice, alto saxophone, percussion and piano, while accordionist Andreas Borregaard performs Until nothing left (2017), which he premiered at the Borealis Festival in March. On the same occasion, Dacapo Records will host a reception celebrating the CD release of Songs of Doubt.

Athelas & Aavaat in Tivoli | Tuesday, 30 May, 19.30
Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen; Aavaat Choir (GL); Pierre-André Valade, conductor
The Tivoli Concert Hall, Vesterbrogade 3, CPH V
Tickets: 175 DKK (Tivoli entrance included)
Will be broadcast live on Danish radio

SCENATET at KLANG | Saturday, 3 June, 20.00
KoncertKirken, Blågårds Plads 6, CPH N
Tickets: 100/70 DKK (day ticket)

CD release of Songs of Doubt | Saturday, 3 June, 21.00
KoncertKirken, Blågårds Plads 6, CPH N
Free entrance

Solo-Act 3 | Saturday, 3 June, 21.30
Andreas Borregaard, accordion
KoncertKirken, Blågårds Plads 6, CPH N
Tickets: 100/70 DKK (day ticket)