We focus primarily on the music of our time, and collaborations with other musicians play a central role for us. These are the source of the works that build our sound. We engage with melodies old and new, while also drawing on early music and jazz. Our stage events thrive on collaborative dynamics, dramatic projection of the content, choreographic accents, and exploration of the architecture and room acoustics.
Out of the ether, into existence. The initial point. The beginning. The ever-recurring origin. Between minimalism and picturesque arias arise light, time, and all life.
In Origins, the female vocal ensemble, Sjaella, focuses on natural cycles that have surrounded us since the dawn of time. In every era, people have experienced the changes in the seasons, the gentle rhythm of day and night, the individual flow of the body, and the transience of rebirth. All of these themes are presented as a unit, which forms a cycle of key concepts from the origin of life to a post-apocalyptic vacuum.
The music contrasts and unites new arrangements of English songs from the 17th Century, such as from Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, with contemporary pieces, including those in the American Minimalist style, such as David Lang’s Evening, Morning, Day. By including mainly commissioned works, the concert program shows Sjaella’s close collaboration with renowned international composers such as Paola Prestini, singer and songwriter Shara Nova, and former King’s Singers member, Philip Lawson.
Moving and timeless themes take centre stage in this concert: peace, the wonder of nature, and love. The first part of the concert begins with new settings of spiritual texts, prayers and hymns by Arvo Pärt, Ola Gjeilo and other current artists. The programme strikes a path into nature with the seasons cycle from Henry Purcell’s Semi-Opera “The Fairy Queen” – reworked for Sjaella with Baroque and contemporary elements. The joys and transience of life meet here in a tone painting. The second part of the concert programme is dedicated to folk songs from northern Europe. Characteristic arrangements and a range of moods are used to give each song space to reveal the mysteries of its culture. Stories of lost love, longing, strange spirits of nature, and daring adventures show the unique characteristics of each region.
Lute songs of the Renaissance and arias from various great works by the English Baroque composer, Henry Purcell, open the first part of the concert. The fairies of the night from “The Fairy Queen” bring a tranquil high point, as these allegorical figures bridge the gap to the mysterious beings of Nordic mythology. Nature and love stories come together in these folk songs, as characteristic arrangements and a range of moods are used to give each song space to reveal the mysteries of its culture.
20th and 21st Century Spiritual Vocal Music
The concert program ‘Eulogy’ contains the musical setting of spiritual texts and adaptations of spiritual chants. One can expect to hear pieces from various composers such as Knut Nystedt, Ola Gjeilo, Hugo Distler or Ēriks Ešenvalds. What’s more, the program is further enriched by special compositions that were put together just for us. Prolific duets with musicians such as Simon Wawer, Paul Heller, Volker Bräutigam, Gregor Meyer und David Timm are just examples of what awaits you. The compositions include psalms, antiphons, mass-texts and works of Paul Gerhardt and Martin Luther as well as spiritual poetry.
Part of this program can be heard on the 2013 classic record label querstand release ‘Eulogy’. Musical pieces may vary and the program is in constant development.
Simon Wawer: ‘Morgengesang’
Knut Nystedt: ‘You are my brothers keeper’
Ola Gjeilo: ‘Ave generosa’
Erik Esenvalds: ‘O salutaris hostia’
Paul Heller: ‘Wir glauben all an einen Gott’
Global works form the Renaissance, Baraoque, Impressionism and Modernity, Odes and Folk
Our secular repertoire comprises works that highlight and describe the various states of mind, conditions and longings of the human soul. One can expect more old school tunes from artists such as John Dowland or Henry Purcell, works from Claude Debussy or Maurice Ravel as well as a vast array of new composers and melodies from contemporary music makers such as Jeremy Rawson, Graham Lack or Ekkehard Meister.
Folk Music also recounts stories of the soul. We currently have songs from Germany, Scandinavia, Britain, The Baltic States as well as Israel and Palestine in our programme. That said we are in a constant search for new sounds and are always open to new influences.
Henry Purcell: ‘I attempt from love's sickness’
Maurice Ravel: ‘Toi le coeur de la rose’ (from the Opera ‘L'enfant et les sortilèges’)
Knut Nystedt: ‘Die Sternseherin‘ (Text: Matthias Claudius)
Ekkehard Meister: ‘Bist du schon auf der Sonne gewesen?‘ (Text: Joachim Ringelnatz)
German Folk Song from Susanne Blache: ‘All' mein Gedanken, die ich hab‘
Swedish Folk Music from Simon Wawer: ‘Vem kan segla‘
Standards und andere Songs aus Jazz und Pop
Sophisticated arrangements made up of both well-known and lesser-known jazz, pop or soul songs come together to produce a new sound. The novelty lies in the fact that we’re not really used to hearing exclusively female acapella-groups. Due to higher and more limited vocal ranges of the walking bass, solos and back-up singers we will leave you feeling lifted.
When it comes to song selection, we have focused on the most beautiful classics as well as shining a light on modern jazz singers. Melody Gardot and Jamie Cullum feature as examples.
You will also be treated to music arranged by jazz singers and musicians such as Juan Garcia, Matthias Knoche (Klangbezirk), Michael Eimann (Slixs) or Kurt Sampson (Cadence).
Clifford Brown, arranged by: Michael Eimann: ‘Joy Spring’
Bill Withers, arranged by: Christoph Göbel: ‘Just the two of us’
Melody Gardot, arranged by: Matthias Knoche: ‘If the stars were mine’
Björk, arranged by: Tanja Pannier: ‘It's oh so quiet’
Irving Berlin, arranged by: Stefan Flügel: ‘Cheek to Cheek’
Children’s program (roughly 40 mins) consisting in a story-telling complete with images and songs from around the globe
“Dear Grandpa, I would like to put the joy back into music for you. The love for music is deep within you, all you must do is discover it…”
Hannah goes off on her way and travels to all the spots where her grandparents sang together before her grandmother’s death. Through letters and general thoughts, Hannah sends her grandfather all of the music that she comes across on her travels.
This program is directed towards children between 5 and 13 years of age. That said, it is also much enjoyed by adults too!
Spiritual choir pieces by Hugo Distler with the Nobiles Ensemble (Leipzig)
We have collaborated for many years now with the male quintet, Nobiles, from Leipzig. We produced a CD together in 2012 with musical pieces from Hugo Distler and this was released under the Leipzig Classic Label, Rondeau. Bang at the centre of this program is the well-known “Totentanz” (speaker: Heinz-Martin Benecke). Distler’s “Geistlicher Chormusik” can be seen as a framing tool for this production in which contemporary pieces from artists such as Johannes Weihrauch feature.
‘Fürwahr, er trug unsere Krankheit‘
‘Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied‘
‘Ich wollt', dass ich daheime wär‘
Johannes Weihrauch: ‘Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn‘
Project with the male ensemble, Quartonal, Choir Music from the 20th and 21st Century on the Theme of “War and Peace”
This program is currently under production and will be released in Autumn of 2017.
Benjamin Britten: ‘Advance Democracy’
Thomas Jennefelt: ‘Warning to the rich’
Rudolf Mauersberger: ‘Wie liegt die Stadt so wüst‘
Eric Whitacre: ’Hope, faith, life, love’
Georg Christoph Biller: ‘Verleih uns Frieden gnädiglich‘
In the course of this workshop we tackle the question: what is a homogenous sound actually comprised of and what elements come together to actually achieve this? Managing to converge truly individual voices into one impeccable, pure common sound is no act of witchcraft! How one actually manages this feat forms the basis of this particular workshop. The central focus looks at, going beyond voice leading, the ability to intuitively listen in on one another and to really immerse oneself as a fellow singer.
The workshop is geared towards choir leaders and singers from vocal emsembles and choirs.
Self-discovery through producing sounds with your voice and body can be a truly magical experience. Such an experience breaks down barriers and inhibitions but more than that, is simply a fun way to pass a few hours.
We want to create beautiful moments, precisely with children and that’s why we developed an interactive, group activity based workshop. The games focus on trusting oneself to be able to simultaneously listen and create musical background sounds, rhythms and melodies.
As part of our work for SOS Children's Villages Worldwide we already put on such workshops in Israel and Palestine as well as in Jordan with refugee families and orphans.
The workshop itself is easily put together and is geared towards children from 5 to 16 years of age. Previous musical experience is welcomed but not expected or necessary.