Tora Augestad’s versatility inspires composers, theatre directors and conductors. Through commissioning new works and through the collaboration with her various ensembles she continuously seeks new challenges and the exchange of artistic ideas. She knows how to be theatrically convincing and how to engage her vocal capabilities, which defy easy classification, in an appropriate and compelling manner. Born in Bergen in 1979, the singer/actress Tora Augestad studied classical music and jazz singing in Oslo and Stockholm, devoting herself principally to repertoire of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Tora Augestad has become a regular guest in her native Norway and the rest of Europe, sharing the podium with musical partners such as the Ensemble Modern, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, NRK Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Ensemble Contrechamps, Klangforum Wien, Remix Ensemble, Finnish Chamber Orchestra, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Bamberg Symphony and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. She performed in the world premiere of an opera she commissioned herself at the Bergen Festival 2015: Cecilie Ore’s Adam & Eve.
The collaboration with the Swiss director Christoph Marthaler, which began in 2010 with the premiere of Beat Furrer’s Wüstenbuch, has become a constant in Tora Augestad’s artistic life. After the success of Marthaler’s Meine faire Dame, a take on My Fair Lady, at the Theater Basel in 2012, the homage to Verdi’s Lo Stimolatore Cardiaco in Basel and the Zurich Opera production of Sale with music by Handel followed. The staged Lieder recital King Size went on world wide tour to cities including Hamburg, Prague, Moscow, Geneva, Rotterdam, London (Royal Opera House), Santiago de Chile, Sao Paulo and Jerusalem. The production Last Days. An Eve was performed at the Wiener Festwochen 2013, the Festival d’Automne Paris and at the Staatsoper Berlin.
In 2004, Tora Augestad founded the ensemble MUSIC FOR A WHILE, made up of renowned musicians from the Norwegian jazz scene. After the release of their CD Weill Variations, the singer was awarded the renowned Lotte Lenya Prize in 2008.
At the beginning of the 2018/19 season, Tora Augestad will give her debut at the RuhrTriennale Festival in Christoph Marthaler‘s Charles Ives-tribute Universe, Incomplete followed by his production Bekannte Gefühle, Gemischte Gesichter that is also presented at the Ibsen Festival Oslo and at De Singel Antwerp. In 2019, she will sing the world premiere Lab.Oratorium by Philippe Manoury with the Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne (conductor: François-Xavier Roth, staging: Nicolas Stemann) at the Kölner Philharmonie, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and the Philharmonie de Paris. Furthermore, she will perform with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, the Oslo Sinfonietta and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. Her newly released solo-CD Portraying Passion(LAWO Classics) featuring works by Weill, Ives and Paus (Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Joshua Weilerstein/Christian Eggen) has already been nominated by the German Record Critics’ Award as best recording 2019 and been chosen as recording of the month by Fono Forum and Opernwelt magazine.
Tora Augestad has been co-artistic director of the Hardanger Music Festival in Norway since 2015. She was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize 2015, the most important cultural prize in Scandinavia, and was awarded as Performer of the Year by the Norwegian Composer Society in 2018.
Opera / Music theatre:
Håkon Berge Byterminalen (Marianne, WP)
Eivind Buene September Songs (Hedda 2)
Christian Eggen Eine Bitte (The woman)
Hanns Eisler Die Mutter (The Mother)
Beat Furrer Wüstenbuch (soprano II)
Henrik Hellstenius Ophelia – Death by Water singing (The Queen/Woodmaiden 2)
Tom Johnson The four note opera (alto)
Christoph Marthaler SALE (music by G. F. Handel), Lo Stimolatore Cardiaco (music by G. Verdi)
Cecilie Ore Adam & Eve – A Divine Comedy (Virgilia, WP)
Marcus Paus The Witches (The Great Witch, WP)
Niels Rønsholdt Inside your mouth sucking the sun (Josephine)
Henning Sommerro Dagny
Stephen Sondheim Company
Kurt Weill The Threepenny Opera (Jenny, Polly), The Seven Deadly Sins (Anna)
Louis Andriessen The New Math(s)
Luciano Berio Folk Songs, Recital for Cathy
Leonard Bernstein Somewhere
George Crumb Night of the four moons
John Cage A flower, Aria, the wonderful widow of eigtheen springs
Beat Furrer Canti della tenebra
Evan Gardner No Thanks
George and Ira Gershwin I got rhythm
Gérard Grisey Quatre chants pour franchir le seul
Henrik Hellstenius As if the law is everything (WP)
Friedrich Hollaender Falling in love again
Anders Hillborg …lontana in sonno
Charles Ives Five Songs
Benedict Mason Chaplin Operas
Marcus Paus Hate Songs
Astor Piazzolla Yo Soy Maria
Arnold Schönberg Pierrot Lunaire
Mischa Spoliansky Life’s a swindle (Alles Schwindel)
Trygve Seim Rumi Songs: On the day I die, When I see your Face
Kurt Weill I’m a stranger here myself, Mackie Messer, Surabaya Johnny
6 March 2019, 19:30, University Bergen, NO
Isang Yun Tapis
Robert Schumann / Henrik Hellstenius Dichterliebe – World Premiere
Franz Schubert Symphony No. 5
Jean Sibelius De trenne blinda systror
Gustav Mahler Der Einsame im Herbst
Cast: Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Risto Joost (conductor), Tora Augestad (mezzo-soprano)
23 March 2019, 20:00, De Singel Antwerpen
24 March 2019, 15:00, De Singel Antwerpen
18/19 April 2019, Teatrium Na Serpukhovke, Moscow
Programme: Christoph Marthaler Bekannte Gefühle, gemischte Gesichter
Cast: Christoph Marthaler (stage director), Anna Viebrock (set, costumes), Stefanie Carp (dramaturg), Malte Ubenauf (dramaturg), Hildegard Alex, Tora Augestad, Marc Bodnar i.a.
12/13 April 2019, 21:00, Théâtre les Halles, Sierre
Programme: Christoph Marthaler King Size
Cast: Christoph Marthaler (stage director), Bendix Dethleffsen (musical direction), Duri Bischof (set), Sarah Schittek (costumes), Malte Ubenauf (dramaturg), Tora Augestad, Michael von der Heide, Nikola Weisse
19 May 2019, 11:00, Kölner Philharmonie
20/21 May 2019, 20:00, Kölner Philharmonie
27 May, 2019, 20:00, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
3 June 2019, 20:00, Philharmonie de Paris
Programme: Philippe Manoury Lab.Oratorium for voices, orchestra and live electronics (2018-19) – World Premiere
Cast: The Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne , François-Xavier Roth (conductor), Nicolas Stemann (stage director), IRCAM, SWR Vokalensemble, Thomas Goepfer (Electronics), Tora Augestad (mezzo soprano), Rinnat Moriah (soprano), Sebastian Rudolph (actor), Patrycia Ziolkowska (actress)
Ensemble Music for a while
A unique and fresh combination of Jazz improvisations and classical music is presented on stage by the Norwegian ensemble Music for a while surrounding the singer Tora Augestad. Together with the congenial musicians Stian Carstensen, Mathias Eick, Martin Taxt and Pål Hausken the ensemble interprets own arrangements of ballads and songs by Kurt Weill, but also of classical lieder and arias by J. S. Bach, Henry Purcell, John Dowland, G.F. Handel, Franz Schubert and other composers. The exceptional ensemble has already performed at the Beethovenfest Bonn, the Dresden Music Festival, the Handel-Festival Halle, the Musikfest Stuttgart and other festivals and has released the three CDs Weill Variations (2007), Graces that refrain (2012) and Canticles of Winter (2014) on Grappa. A fourth CD is planned for 2018.
Tora Augestad (vocals)
Stian Carstensen (accordion, steel guitar)
Mathias Eick (trumpet)
Martin Taxt (tuba)
Pål Hausken (drums)
It seems as there are no musical borders for this trio: weightlessly moving between contemporary classical music, jazz and popular music, it inspires Norwegian composers from extremely different genres to score music for this exceptional group. The name of the trio, which was founded in 2006, is composed by the last names of the accomplished musicians Morten Barrikmo, Tanja Orning and Tora Augestad. The repertoire is constantly extended and was enhanced among others by Jarle Berhoft-Sjodin, Eivind Buene, Evan Gardner, Hanne Hukkelberg, Jenny Hval, Ole Henrik Moe Jr., Morten Qvenild, Susanne A. Sundfor, Christian Wallumrod and Bugge Wesseltoft. So far, the BOA-trio was live on stage at several occasions, including the Ultima Festival Oslo, Radialsystem Berlin, Wien Modern (Vienna) and Klangspuren Schwaz (Austria). Their debut CD mOOn Over tOwns documents the vast musical range.
Morten Barrikmo (clarinet)
Tanja Orning (cello)
Tora Augestad (vocals)
The programme RUMI SONGS presents songs by the Norwegian composer and jazz saxophonist Trygve Seim based on poems by the Sufi philosopher Jelauddin Rumi – sung in English. The result is an extraordinary combination of Nordic oriental sounds, jazz improvisation, and popular and avant-garde music. The accomplished Norwegian quartet Augestad, Seim, Haltli and Henryson is extremely versed in interpreting these unprecedented compositions. RUMI SONGS was released in summer 2016 by ECM and is Tora Augestad’s first CD at said label. The magazine Jazzecho judged: “Not less impressive than the three instrumentalists is the mezzo-soprano Tora Augestad. She has brilliantly conquered the challenge to give Seim’s Rumi-score a voice.”
Tora Augestad (vocals)
Trygve Seim (saxophone)
Frode Haltli (accordion)
Svante Henryson (violoncello)
“Wistful Dream of Times“
“Melancholy is the pleasure of being sad.” Victor Hugo (1802–1885)
In this new programme baroque sounds encounter the longings, dreams and wistfulness of the works of William Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Wilhelm Müller and other writers. The first cooperation between Tora Augestad and the Lautten Compagney Berlin surrounding the musical director Wolfgang Katschner celebrated its premiere during the Schwetzingen SWR Festival 2017 and has since been invited to the Lower Saxony Music Festival in autumn 2017. Arias and instrumental work by composers such as John Dowland, Johann Philipp Krieger, Thomas Campion, William Byrd, Francesco Cavalli, Claudio Monteverdi, Henry Purcell and Franz Schubert leave audiences sighing blissfully and send them into the night enchanted to explore their own dreams.
Tora Augestad (vocals)
Wolfgang Katschner (concept und musical director)
Lautten Compagney BERLIN: cornet, recorder, violin (2), viola, violone, percussion, organ/harpsichord,
theorbo/baroque guitar, lute
You tend to know if you’ll like a disc within a few seconds of pressing play. Tora Augestad’s version of Weill and Brecht’s The Seven Deadly Sins will come as a shock for those who only know the recording made by Weill’s widow, Lotte Lenya. (…). Augestad sticks to the original pitch, and she’s terrific: seductive, sharp and witty. I began applauding halfway through the fourth song, “Anger”, when Augestad’s Anna 1 begins her “Wer dem Unrecht in den Arm fällt” soliloquy. (…) Augestad’s recording is the best out there. Oh, yes. (…) Sample Augestad in frustrated mood (“If I had a shiny gun/I could have a world of fun…”). She’s terrifying but you daren’t switch off.
Theartsdesk.com, Graham Rickson, 2 February 2019
Rumi was a 13th Century sufi mystic who wrote more than 40,000 verses in his native Persian. Now Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim has set ten of these to music, using what might appear to be a sparse instrumental line-up of accordion, cello and tenor or soprano saxophones, above which sails the pure, soft, melodious voice of Tora Augestad. […] Tora Augestad is the most wonderful singer, able to sing quarter tones and make it sound easy.
Londonjazznews.com, 7 January 2017
Augestad is an excellent focal point; her articulation reveals the mystery, humor, and ecstasy — spiritual and carnal — in Rumi’s writings. […] Augestad expresses Rumi’s observations on the deepest of the heart’s longings with affirmation and generosity as the instrumentalists weave a joyful backdrop somehow simultaneously filled with yearning.
Allmusic.com, 9 September 2016
Tora Augestad, a tall and magnificent soprano, performs a series of songs in a series of costume changes which do not help to elucidate who she is at all. However, she is credited as the King’s Daughter, a reference to her final, lovely “Es waren zwei Königskinder”, a German folk duet which she sings with childlike simplicity and delicacy. For me, Augestad is the star of the evening: her delivery of Dowland’s “Come, heavy sleep” from underneath the bed is an absolute showstopper, lyrical and plangent; her blowsy, jazzy approach to the more modern numbers is delightful. Augestad also has innate comic talent: as the evening goes on, her sense of humour shows ever more strongly in ironic dance moves, witty gestures and some deliberately hyperbolic singing. When you feel lost in the piece, Augestad’s calm conviction and clear enjoyment of her role reassures you that it’s still ok to laugh.
Bachtrack.com, 15 April 2015
Une jeune fillette – Traditional (Music for a while):
When I See Your Face (RUMI-SONGS):
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