Sofia Jernberg

Sofia Jernberg is a Swedish experimental singer, composer, improviser and performer. She was born in Ethiopia in 1983 and grew up there, in Vietnam and in Sweden. She has lived in Oslo, Norway since 2011. One of her deepest interests as a singer is to investigate and explore the “instrumental” possibilities of the human voice. Her singing vocabulary also includes sounds and techniques that often contradict conventional singing styles, such as non-verbal vocalisation, split tone singing, pitchless singing and distortion.

Music theatre and contemporary opera play a significant part in her artistic oeuvre. She has appeared in productions of Arnold Schönberg’s ‘Pierrot Lunaire’ and Salvatore Sciarrino’s ‘Lohengrin’. Several composers have written roles specifically for Jernberg, including Emily Hall in ‘Folie à Deux’ and Anna Thorvaldsdottir in ‘UR_’. During the 2021/2022 season she will perform the world premiere of the new composition by Chaya Czernowin ‘ATARA’ together with the baritone Holger Falk and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra as well as working with choreographer Erna Ómarsdóttir, composer Hildur Guðnadóttir (Chernobyl, The Joker) and bassist Skúli Sverrisson on a new production of ‘Orpheus & Eurydice’.

Another key focus of her practice lies in her collaborations with visual artists. She has performed together with the artist Camille Norment, participating in her pieces ‘Rapture’ (Venice Biennale 2015) and ‘Lull’ (Bergen International Festival 2016). She featured as a singer in the 80-minute film ‘Union of the North’ by Matthew Barney, Erna Ómarsdóttir and Valdimar Jóhannsson. She also played a central role in an audio-visual work by the artist Kristina Norman and the composer Märt-Matis Lill shown in 2018 at the Tallin Art Museum.

As a composer Sofia Jernberg has been commissioned by the Barents Composer Orchestra, Swedish Radio P2, Stockholm Jazz Festival, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, Oslo 14 Vocal Ensemble, Klang – Copenhagen Avantgarde Music Festival, BANFF Centre for Arts and Creativity, The Gothenburg Combo, Opera Nord and numerous chamber music ensembles. In response to a commission from the Ultima Contemporary Music Festival, she is working on composition for children’s choir, soprano, voice and chamber ensemble that will have its world premiere in 2022, and is also preparing a piece for chamber ensemble for Ensemble Contrechamps.

In 2017 and 2018 she taught contemporary music summer classes in singing and composition at the BANFF Centre for Arts and Creativity. She also gives lectures and workshops at a range of universities across Europe. She is one of the Forecast platform’s mentors for 2021/2022.

As well as performing solo, Sofia Jernberg also works regularly with Fire! Orchestra, The End (Kjetil Møster, Mats Gustafsson, Anders Hana, Greg Saunier, Jernberg), in a duo with Mette Rasmussen and in a duo with Alexander Hawkins.

Updated: March 2021

© Jon Edergren

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