Sofia Jernberg, born in Ethiopia and raised in Vietnam and Sweden, is an exceptional singer/voice artist and composer. She studied jazz and composition in Sweden and lives and works in Stockholm. Her work focuses on unconventional techniques and sounds such as non-verbal vocalisation, split tones, toneless singing and distortion.
Music theatre and contemporary opera play an important role in Jernberg’s artistic work. She participated in performances of Arnold Schönberg’s Pierrot lunaire in 2010 and Salvatore Sciarrino’s Lohengrin in 2014 by the Swedish ensemble Norrbotten NEO and embodied roles specifically written for her in new works such as Folie à Deux by Emily Hall and UR_ by Anna Thorvaldsdottir. PIERROT LUNAIRE’S production, directed by Marlene Monteiro Freitas and conducted by Ingo Metzmacher, featured her as soloist together with Klangforum Wien at the Wiener Festwochen 2021 and at the KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen 2022.
Another running theme in her work is the collaboration with visual artists such as Camille Norment in her pieces Rapture and Lull. Sofia Jernberg can be seen as a singer in the film Union of the North with Matthew Barney, Erna Ómarsdóttir and Valdimar Jóhannsson. She has received several commissions for compositions and is currently working on a composition for children’s choir, soprano, voice and chamber ensemble for the Ultima Contemporary Music Festival, which will première in 2022. In 2021, she sang the successful world premiere of Chaya Czernowin‘s Atara with the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Wien at the Musikverein Wien presented by the Festival Wien Modern.
In the current season 2022/23, Sofia Jernberg is invited to the festival Warsaw Autumn, Ultima Festival Oslo and again to the festival MaerzMusik Berlin. At the Festival d’Automne à Paris she will present the French premiere of the production PIERROT LUNAIRE with the Klangforum Wien and Ingo Metzmacher. Furthermore, she will sing the Estonian premiere of Czernowin‘s Atara with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (ERSO) and the conductor Michael Wendeberg at the International Contemporary Music Festival AFEKT in Tallinn. She will also make her debut with the Collegium Novum Zurich and Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire in Basel and Zurich.
25/26/27 November 2022, 19:00, Grande Halle de la Villette, Festival d’Automne à Paris
Programme: Arnold Schönberg Pierrot Lunaire op. 21
Cast: Klangforum Wien, Ingo Metzmacher (conductor), Marlene Monteiro Freitas (staging), Sofia Jernberg (voice)
28 January 2023, 19:30, Schmiedenhof Basel
29 January 2023, 17:00, Theatersaal Weisser Wind Zurich
Programme: Arnold Schönberg Pierrot lunaire op. 21 , Jürg Wyttenbach Serenade
Cast: Collegium Novum Zurich, Sofia Jernberg (voice)
22/23 February 2023, 19:30, Elbphilharmonie, Kleiner Saal
Programme: »hymns and laments« – from Africa, America, Asia and Europe, arranged by Sofia Jernberg, Christian Karlsen, Lars Petter Hagen, Okkyung Lee and Cory Smythe, meet arias by Henry Purcell and Zygmunt Krauze’s piece for ensemble: Aus aller Welt Stammende
Cast: Ensemble Resonanz, Christian Karlsen (conductor), Annette Kurz (set-design), Peter Evans (trumpet), Sofia Jernberg (vocals), Okkyung Lee (cello), Cory Smythe (piano)
25 February 2023, 21:00, Centralstation Darmstadt, cresc biennale for contemporary music
Programme: Music by Sun Ra, George Clinton i.a.
Cast: HR Big Band, Samúel Jón Samúelsson (conductor), Sofia Jernberg (vocals)
16 March 2023, 19.00, Håkonshallen Bergen, Festival Borealis
Programme: Anahita Abbasi Faab IV / a femme fatale, Sofia Jernberg ይነ-እርግብ ( ), Beat Furrer Gasprä, Jessie Cox Existence Lies in-Between
Cast: Ensemble Contrechamps, Sofia Jernberg (vocals)
Sofia Jernberg (voice)
Georges Aperghis Récitations
Sofia Jernberg One Pitch: Birds for Distortion and Mouth Synthesizers
It sounds so delicate when the two singers (…) start out: Soprano Sofia Jernberg whines and whispers into the microphone over a breathy tapestry of aspirating instruments. A break into tenderness, the piece ebbs and flows in harmony, ending in a spherical duet.
Wiener Zeitung, Marie-Therese Rudolph, 11 November 2021
Over the course of the 75-minute performance, Sofia Jernberg develops a broad repertoire of vocal sound, ranging from overtone singing to guttural lutes, including childlike wailing and soft, intimately-interpreted melodies. Their impressive facial expressions accompany the minimalist actions, which are lent enormous impact due to the acoustic amplification: She excessively brushes her teeth until the foam drips downwards, slowly pulls a fishing line out of her mouth, accompanied by stricken piano strings – creating a connection between action and potential meaning.
Wiener Zeitung, Marie-Therese Rudolph, 17 June 2021
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