World premiere of Line Tjørnhøj's HIMMEL

Line Tjørnhøj's HIMMEL explores the breath with heavenly Mahler references, fragmented existential poetry and a headbanging soprano. The work was written for Ensemble Pluma and will be premiered on Tuesday 25 April.

Line Tjørnhøj describes the work HIMMEL as an abstract representation of how you might try with the breath, to expand your inner space as well as the space surrounding you. "It can feel a bit like a straitjacket to be human, and no matter what you do, there is neither enough space inside nor outside of you," says Line Tjørnhøj.

HIMMEL was written for Ensemble Pluma, who wanted a contemporary work that could mirror Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 4 (1899-1900), which the ensemble has on its program, and which in the last movement includes a soprano soloist singing the German folk poem Das Himmlische Leben. Line Tjørnhøj has been inspired by Mahler's romantic concept of heaven, but put a more cool and concrete angle to it through the paraphrasing of two sonnets by Rainer Marie Rilke, which capture the existential meaning of the breath.

"It revolves around the forces at play when you as a human being try to expand your being in different ways. With the breath you connect to the inner space, but also to the large space around you, and with Rilke it is, so to speak, suspended in the heavens," Line Tjørnhøj explains, and continues: "I like that when I relate to something as big and intangible as God and Heaven, then I can find a philosophical angle like with Rilke, which connects it to something completely essential like the breath.”

Line Tjørnhøj has incorporated two fragmented sentences from Rilke's Sonette an Orpheus. In some places, they are cut down to mere sounds and in other places, they are cut into new meanings. She works concretely with the breath throughout the work and quite physically with the soprano, who, among other things, headbang to influence the breath.

HIMMEL will be premiered on 25 April in St Mortens Church in Randers by Ensemble Pluma and soprano Katinka Fogh Vindelev conducted by Johanne Sofie Bech Madsen. At the same concert, Mahler's 4th Symphony arranged for chamber ensemble will be performed. The concert will subsequently be performed on 10 May in Budolfi Church in Aalborg and on 18 May in St Luke's Church in Aarhus.