Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen

Works for Live Art Danmark
“Musique de Tables” and “Black Box Music” at Life Art for Children 2023.

We felt especially honored that the reknowned national Danish ensemble for new and avantgarde music, Athelas Sinfonietta, came to join our Live Art for Children festival in Copenhagen in 2023. The two pieces they performed, one small, one massive, both made a lasting impression on our audiences with the precision and seriousness, with which they approached slightly bonkers comcepts.

Musique de Tables
In Thierry de Mey’s piece Musique de tables from 1985, as the name suggests, the table is used as a musical instrument.
The work is written for three percussionists who, equipped only with three small wooden tables and their hands, perform a tightly choreographed rhythmic ritual that is breathtaking in its complexity. For the concert, the musicians’ hands are projected onto a large screen, enabling the audience to witness the extreme precision behind every hit, stroke, clap and knock on the three table tops.

Black Box Music
In Black Box Music, a work by composer Simon Steen Andersen for solo percussion, video and ensemble, it is not the musicians, but rather the hands of the Norwegian conductor Håkon Stene that take the focus on stage. In an otherwise almost completely dark auditorium, where we scarcely see the musiscians, his hands perform in a  Black Box that reminds us of a puppet theatre, and is projected onto the wall above it. Black Box Music is an investigation, deconstruction and rethinking of the role of the conductor in a classical ensemble. During the incredibly energetic, humorous and entertaining work the hands acted not only as a conductor in the traditional sense, but also as a musical instrument, soloist and puppeteer.

About the Artists
Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen describes itself a fearless mouthpiece for the avant-garde, which champions innovative projects that overcome aesthetic limitations and physical boundaries. Since its foundation in 1990 Athelas has become the foremost ensemble for contemporary music in Denmark. The core consists of 15 accomplished musicians, but Athelas plays in any format from solo-pieces to +25 musicians. Over the years Athelas has collaborated with prominent soloists, conductors and composers such as Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt and Hans Abrahamsen. The ensemble has performed about 800 different works many of which have been first performances, and has produced an extensive discography. International cooperation is essential to Athelas, with recent appearances in England, Germany, France, Russia, Egypt and Iran among other countries. Athelas Sinfonietta takes its name from the Athelas-Plant in Tolkiens Lord of the Rings; a medicinal herb that cures evil wounds and dark thoughts.

The (Danish only) website of Athelas can be found here.

Om liveart_dk was founded in 2004 in Copenhagen to promote the discussion, documentation and development of live art in Denmark. The organisation is equally inspired by the imaginative and entertaining English Live Art tradition as by the theoretical and political German theatre tradition. We have organised 10 large international festivals of Live Art for kids and adults since 2004, and over 40 discussion events, books, video series, symposia and more in the field of live art, performance art, art criticism and documentation. We collaborate with theatres, music venues, art museums and festivals in Denmark and internationally.