Louise Alenius is releasing choral work about isolation and imprisonment
On 24 February, a digital album is released with the work Stille Slag, a choral piece based on former prisoners' accounts of life behind bars.
Stille Slag is a new choral piece by Danish composer Louise Alenius, putting the feelings that occur when the body is imprisoned and isolated into music. In October and November 2021, the work was staged at Teater Revolver, Copenhagen, performed by seven leading Danish classical singers.
On 24 February, a digital album is released on Dacapo Records, presenting a new version of the work, where the voices heavy with emotion are echoing in the prison space which on the recording is portrayed by cold, metallic sounds. Pre-save the album to your streaming service via this link.
Texts about alienation, anxiety and anger
Before creating the work, composer Louise Alenius, writer Tanja Diers and director Tue Biering chose to spend 24 hours in solitary confinement in the Horsens Statsfængsel to experience the isolation themselves, working, Alenius says, on the same principle as a method actor would in getting into a character.
Following this experience, Diers interviewed a number of former prisoners about their own incarceration, which came to create the basis for the lyrics for Stille Slag. The texts investigate what happens when the body during confinement and how one as a human being can hold on to oneself in isolation.
Through sparse and reduced material, repetition, lists and other fragmentary structures, the texts conjure boredom, alienation, anger and anxiety. Alenius' music, in contrast, is warmly textured and occasionally ornate, evoking the seventeenth-century madrigals.
Aural prison space
Stille Slag was first premiered in a staged version with a cappella choir and seven inmates acting some of the daily activities of prison life.
With this new recording of the work, Louise Alenius has replaced the prison space from the staged theatre version with a different, musical space, by adding in the studio layers of instruments and sampled sounds. ‘When I write music, I’m very aware of the room’, she says. ‘Taking the room away is like cutting the legs off. I needed to create the room again.’
In the re-edited studio version, cold, creaking, metallic textures and deep-sounding percussion portray the empty cells and echoing hallways of the prison. The aural prison scenery, inspired by the warped sounds that Alenius herself heard in her cell in Horsens, forms a contrast to the warm, personal and emotional character of the human voices.
Louise Alenius (b. 1978) is a Danish autodidact composer, who has especially made her mark with works which deal with difficult and often tabooed subjects. In May 2023, Alenius is presenting two projects in collaboration with Malmö Opera and The Royal Danish Theatre respectively:
In Malmö, Alenius' first opera Silent Zone will be restaged with a Swedish cast. The opera is a family drama about incest and trauma, which after the premiere in 2017 was nominated for three Reumert Awards and brought Alenius the Danish Radio P2 Award and the Carl Nielsen and Anne Marie Carl Nielsen Honorary Award among others.
At The Royal Danish Theatre one can experience the repremiere of a radical new staging of the ballet classic Napoli, for which Alenius has composed music for the entire Second Act, which marked the beginning of a long collaboration with The Royal Danish Theatre.