★★★★★ »A fascinating insight into the practice of Damkapellet, but also a collection of really interesting works« Magasinet Klassisk
»Uncompromising and cool, open and seeking« Sydsvenskan
Damkapellet is a music collective formed in 2016 to bring diversity to the Danish music scene by highlighting and performing music by artists who define themselves as women, non-binary or transgender. Demiurge, the collective’s debut album, presents Damkapellet’s unique approach to music-making with a carefully selected programme that provides gentle lyricism and bold creative outbursts in equal measure.
Damkapellet has collectiveness as the foundation of every aspect of their work – both artistically and organizationally.
Damkapellet values openness and curiosity. Genre and formation are unimportant; what is vital is a mutual urge to explore and create together.
Damkapellet stands in opposition to the patriarchal classical music tradition and its hierarchical forms of creation.
Damkapellet interprets, collaborates with external composers, or create original works themselves.
Damkapellet listens! to each other and to their surroundings. This way they create the intimacy around the musical experience itself, where the audience is involved with naturalness and trust.
Damkapellet is a music collective formed in 2016 to bring diversity to the Danish music scene by highlighting and performing music by artists who define themselves as women, non-binary or transgender. The collective debuted on 8 March the same year at KoncertKirken, Copenhagen, celebrating International Women’s Day.
As an ensemble, Damkapellet embraces large parts of art music, from newly composed music and improvisation to opera, Baroque, children’s performances, and performance art.
Since its foundation, the members of Damkapellet have been lecturing about female composers and gender structures, and performing regularly at festivals and in projects like Klang Festival, Ung Nordisk Musik Festival, Gong Festival, Talk Town Festival, Københavns Musikteater, Kvindemusikfestivalen, children’s concerts in Denmark and Russia as well as organising their own festivals and events.
Damkapellet have collaborated with composers and ensembles such as Lo Kristenson, Greta Eacott, Guusje Ingen Housz, Konstmusiksystrar, Alina Petrova, Kvinnoorkestern, Den Andra Operan, Julija Morgan, Kirstine Lindemann, and Randi Pontoppidan. In 2020, Damkapellet entered a one-year residency at KoncertKirken, where the collective held a series of concerts, arranged festivals and the conversation-based event, Another Composer Coffee.
Damkapellet’s members represent many different interests, which have naturally shaped the collective to include various projects, performances and ensembles over time. Some members are interested in old music, some in new, and some make their own. Improvisation has also become a natural part of the process since, in improvisation, nothing but your own limits stop you from creating.
Today, Damkapellet consists of 15 members from Copenhagen, Malmö, and Oslo.
Lo Kristenson creates music where expressions of resistance, harshness and clumsiness co-exist with fragile delicacy and vulnerability. In her creative practice, Lo Kristenson seeks to challenge her own ways of working in collective musical practices. The foundational structures of her music lie in personal meetings between the composer and musician.
Lo Kristenson on PULS (2017, rev. 2019):
PULS was originally composed in 2017 but has since been reformed in 2019, in close collaboration with Damkapellet. The musical score now has a freer form that gives room for the musicians to influence the music. The composer has handed over some of the musical responsibility to the musicians. It is now Damkapellet that holds PULS together.
Sing the same tone as you play, let your voice coalesce with the sound of the strings.
PULS develops slowly within a meditative atmosphere: all tonal transitions are gradual and there is nothing in the form that makes the music feel time-bound or directed. Throughout this piece, musicians can use their voices as a way to vary the timbre of their instruments.
Tones, held in relation to the timbre of viola.
In a very slow breath, together.
Musicians, having an important role in guiding the listener into a deeper focus of listening.
A certain calmness in the performance is required.
Fragments are passed from one musician to the next, connecting circular lines.
Randi Pontoppidan is an avant-garde artist whose work touches the heart and stirs the soul, while engaging the adventurous and curious mind. Whether as a vocalist or a composer, from the quietly poetic to the vividly possible, she maps out the less-explored edges of her musical universe with a modern constellation of scintillating sounds flickering above an underworld of reverent textures.
Randi Pontoppidan on Demiurge (2020):
Demiurge – a Platonic or Gnostic deity who fashions the sensible and material world in the light of eternal ideas.
Our world is birthed from a polychord of neighbouring tones, a yin and yang of like-minded opposites, a black-and-white contrast that constitutes a thousand shades of grey, ‘til colours emerge as voices, first muted, then vibrant, all heady, bright, and tropical, followed by the taste of fruit ripening under a canopy of awakening stars showering down on our first shared night on Earth.
And so it goes, subtly unfolding, sublimely evolving, in Demiurge, written for and improvised with Damkapellet. Scored for piano, percussion, strings, sub-bass recorder, live electronics, and voices, Demiurge is a glistening abstraction with orchestrated and improvisational elements centred around the singer.
It’s also a potent metaphor for our shared world, where we acknowledge the past and point towards the future while living and loving in a garden of our own making.
With a particular interest in the body and movement as compositional material, Kirstine Lindemann’s work as a composer and performer focuses on the space between you and I. In her work, the body and sound form part of an exploration of the limitations and the possibilities of connection posed by the body when it is understood as a musical instrument.
Kirstine Lindemann on Further & Back (2015, rev. 2020):
The title of Further & Back originates from the structure of the piece, where each note has a number to be repeated as follows: 1, 12, 123 and so on. The players start together, but over time the counting of repetitions makes them fall out of unison; thanks to human error, the piece unfolds in an interconnected cacophony.
Combining voice, breath, and extended techniques with the tonal note material, the physicality of the players brings a corporeal and primal colour to the piece, which should be performed with the strongest possible intensity and power.
Further & Back is a graphically notated piece written for open instrumentation. Each version is developed in close collaboration with the musicians, always adapting instrumental effects and pitches to the current players and setting.
The piece was first written for the Finish-Danish duo, FluteMachine in 2015. Since then, Further & Back has been rearranged numerous times, among them a voice version for Neue Vocalsolisten, Stuttgart and a trio for accordion, bass flute and voice for Between Feathers Ensemble from Vienna.
In 2020, a trio version made for Damkapellet was nominated for the Hidden Treasures Mixtape organised by The International Rostrum of Composers. This led to the present sextet version for piano, percussion, voice, bass recorder, cello and viola made in close collaboration with Damkapellet.
Greta Eacott is a British-Swedish composer based in Denmark. She is primarily known for her boundary-pushing experimental percussion works and her ‘sans-disciplinary’ approach to music composition, which incorporates spatial aesthetics, design theory and physical movements as integral elements in the musical compositions. This manifests in a unique and modern musical aesthetic which is both playful and refined, agitating and welcoming, sensual, and synthetic.
Greta Eacott on Gestalt Minimal III (2020):
Gestalt Minimal III was composed for Damkapellet in 2020. It is a part of a larger suite of instrumental works entitled ‘Gestalt Minimal; the love songs’, composed by Eacott between 2016 and 2021.
There is a minimal and irrational approach to pitch in the piece – with the score instructing players to perform ‘a little higher’ or ‘a little lower’ than the indicated pitch (In this case, an F# or G) – creating at times a dense and dystopian musical landscape.
Rhythmically, the work is constructed without the use of a conventional metric ‘backbone’ or unifying pulse. Instead, each player’s part and the larger structure of the work is built simply in relation to the other players’ actions and a basic timeline of events.
These compositional elements contribute to the overall feeling of the work, which is simultaneously forward-moving and highly structured but without ever resting upon a solid foundation.
Although the overall aesthetic might be considered as ‘dark’, this is (as the title suggests) a love song – albeit one which perhaps conveys an alternative perspective on romance and sensuality.