World premiere of Sinfonella by Jexper Holmen

Jexper Holmen's Sinfonella is premiered by Athelas Sinfonietta at the opening concert of KLANG festival on 1 June. We asked the composer a few questions about the work.

How would you describe the work?

"It is a concert overture, head-on and hard-hitting and with a concise form. It fits well as the first piece at KLANG's opening concert."

What lies behind the title, Sinfonella?

"It is a contraction of the words "sinfonietta" (little symphony) and "campanella" (bell). Bells play a prominent role in the work."

How have you approached the sinfonietta format?

"I have focused on everyone having the opportunity to play as loudly as possible. The balance in a sinfonietta can be a challenge due to the very heterogeneous combination of instruments. For example, a trumpet is many times more powerful than a violin. In a symphony orchestra, you solve this by having 20-30 violins, but when you write for a sinfonietta you have to use other techniques, such as having all the strings and woodwinds play in unison, while the brass have their own voice. So all in all I have treated the ensemble as an orchestra, rather than as a chamber ensemble."

Can you say something about the expression and course of the work?

"The music is completely atonal and also very disharmonic, except for the parts where everyone plays in unison. The atonal is a goal in itself: every single structure in the work – chord, figure or the like – appears in all twelve chromatic transpositions, prompting no sense of tonality. Most lay people and a large proportion of professional musicians accept tonal music as a matter of course, while they typically react to atonal music with protests. I am working on a comprehensive collection of quotations - Arguments against atonal music - with statements that discredit atonal or modernist music with the greatest obviousness. It includes quotes all the way back from my childhood in the 80s up until a few days ago. People often say some pretty wild things. At festivals like KLANG, atonal music is accepted, but this is not the case in many other places."

Time and place

Jexper Holmen’s Sinfonella, is premiered at the opening of KLANG Festival in The Black Diamond, Copenhagen on 1 June at 20:00.

The evening is kicked off at the harbour outside The Black Diamond at 18:30 and continues in the Atrium before Athelas Sinfonietta and conductor Pierre-André Valade take the stage in the Queen’s Hall at 20:00.

Find more information here