the Amnesia of Forgotten Sounds
Language is only possible through an act of forgetting. It’s a sort of infantile linguistic amnesia, a partial atrophy of phonetic abilities that leads to forgetting the sounds absent in one’s own language, quickly disregarding how to produce them. The entire vocal exploration of experimental singer Sofia Jernberg seems to focus on the emergence of this phonetic amnesia, an apparently endless search for the excavated articulations of the unheard voice.
Ancestral techniques like Ethiopian lament rhythms blend with diplophonia and overtone singing, while Renaissance and Baroque singing traditions discover themselves tattooed with vocal distortions and tremolos that contradict and unsettle the conventional style of singing.
The artist moulds a wide range of vocal atmospheres, engaging in modulations where the body reveals itself as a musical instrument of prodigious power, bordering on the more-then-human: gurgles, trills, glottal strikes, crackles, buzzing, whistles, bleats, and screeches combine into an unprecedented repertoire capable of piercing through language.
Echolalias, the Amnesia of Forgotten Sounds precedes Il Terzo Reich (The Third Reich) by Romeo Castellucci. This combined programme of two adjacent, but separate moments, is created specifically for Short Theatre 2023 and Teatro Nazionale | Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. The proximity of the two works, not intended as a single body, acts in this context as a dyad on language and its power.
Sofia Jernberg born in Ethiopia and raised in Vietnam and Sweden, is an experimental singer/voice artist and composer. She studied jazz and composition in Sweden and lives and works in Stockholm. Her work focuses on unconventional techniques and sounds such as non-verbal vocalisation, split tones, toneless singing, and distortion. Her work in contemporary opera culminates in Pierrot Lunaire, directed by Marlene Monteiro Freitas and conducted by Ingo Metzmacher, where she featured as soloist together with Klangforum Wien at the Wiener Festwochen 2021, at the KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen and at the Festival d’Automne à Paris 2022. Another running theme in her work is the collaboration with visual artists such as Camille Norment. Sofia Jernberg can be seen as a singer in the film Union of the North with Matthew Barney, Erna Ómarsdóttir and Valdimar Jóhannsson. She has received several commissions for compositions and recently premiered Dreams of our future for children’s choir, soprano, voice and chamber ensemble at the Ultima Festival Oslo 2022 and a new composition for the Ensemble Contrechamps at the Borealis Festival 2023 in Bergen. In the season 2023/24, Sofia will perform the programme Noise Uprising: A Polystylistic Atlas at the Transit Festival Leuven, November Music Den Bosch and at deSingel Antwerp together with the ZWERM Ensemble and Sophia Burgos. Furthermore, she will interpret Fausto Romitelli’s An Index of Metals – a video for the Lucerne Festival Forward 2023, and will sing a solo concert at the National Concert Hall Dublin.
ph. Saga Sigurdardottir