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Bent Sørensen

Bent Sørensen is one of northern Europe’s most performed and admired composers, whose triple concerto L’isola della Città was awarded the 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Music. The Danish composer found his voice early and never changed direction. His music floats and percolates of its own accord, haunted by remembrances of things past. It can feel exquisitely close to silence. Sometimes, a Sørensen score will instruct an entire symphony orchestra to lay down its instruments and hum quietly together. Sometimes, it will ask those musicians to leave the stage altogether. Sørensen is a modernist composer who adores tonal intervals and allows himself to be pulled between the magnetic poles of warm, Romantic tonality and rich, Schoenbergian atonality – to be seduced by the simple shape of a song or hymn. Despite its extreme emotional fragility, Sørensen’s music is crammed with as much beauty as is tastefully possible.

Sørensen has worked in every classical music genre and pushed at their boundaries. Sounds Like You, his 2008 concerto for orchestra, choir, actors and audience plants musicians and actors throughout a large concert hall to create an immersive Gesamtkunstwerk. His distinctive choral works culminated in a St Matthew Passion (2019). His full-length opera Under himlen (‘Under the Sky’) was staged at the Royal Danish Opera in 2004. L’isola della Città (‘The Island in the City’) is characteristic of Sørensen’s work in its distilled textures, etched counterpoint, massed use of a single instrument (woodblocks) and sense of latent orchestral power. Sørensen has written for orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Munich Chamber Orchestra and the BBC orchestras. He has been visiting professor in composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London and professor in composition at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, and currently holds the same title at the Malmö Academy of Music.

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