"Tora Augestad is far more than an academically trained singer. She lives and suffers through her songs, taking her vocal and theatrical capabilities to the max.” Mitteldeutsche Zeitung
Tora Augestad’s versatility inspires composers, theatre directors, and conductors. Through commissioning new works and through the collaboration with her various ensembles she continuously seeks new challenges and the exchange of artistic ideas. She knows how to be theatrically convincing and knows how to engage her vocal capabilities, which defy easy classification, in an appropriate and compelling manner.
Born in Bergen in 1979, the singer/actress Tora Augestad studied classical music as well as jazz singing in Oslo and Stockholm, devoting herself principally to repertoire of the 20th and 21st centuries. While studying in Berlin and Munich she intensified her involvement in German music, before then graduating in cabaret singing at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo.
In the meantime, Tora Augestad has become a regular guest in the opera houses, concert halls and theatres of her native Norway and in the rest of Europe, sharing the podium with musical partners such as Ensemble Modern (Three Penny Opera under the direction of HK Gruber in Athens, and Benedict Mason’s Chaplin Operas in Dresden, Baden-Baden, Salzburg and Strasbourg), Oslo Sinfonietta (Pierrot Lunaire in Oslo, and Christian Eggen’s opera Eine Bitte in Venice), Ensemble Contrechamps (No Thanks by Evan Gardner), and the Klangforum Wien (Grisey’s Quatre Chants pour franchir le seuil, conducted by Sylvain Cambreling in the Vienna Konzerthaus). In 2013 she interpreted Berio’s Folk Songs in the Casa da Música in Porto with the Remix Ensemble conducted by Peter Rundel, and in 2014 she sang the world premiere of Furrer’s Canti della tenebra as part of Musica Viva in Munich.
Collaboration with the Swiss director Christoph Marthaler, which began in 2010 with the premiere of Beat Furrer’s music theatre work Wüstenbuch (Klangforum Wien) has since become a constant in Tora Augestad’s artistic life. The success of Marthaler’s Meine faire Dame, a take on My Fair Lady, at the Theater Basel in 2012, was followed by guest appearances in Naples, Avignon, Edinburgh and Paris, as well as the Verdi homage Lo Stimolatore Cardiaco at the Theater Basel, and the Zurich Opera production of Sale with music by Handel. The musically rich staged lieder recital King Size toured Hamburg, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Bozen, Meran, Prague, Moscow, Nanterre, Spoleta and Lausanne and will be performed, among others, in Girona, Geneva, Turin, Rotterdam, at the Bergen International Festival and in London (Royal Opera House, Linbury Studio Theatre) in 2014/15. The production Letzte Tage. Ein Vorabend (Last Days: an Eve), a collage about the period between the two World Wars, was premiered in 2013 at the Wiener Festwochen and Festival d’Automne Paris and can be seen at the Staatsoper Berlin/Schillertheater in September 2014. In October 2014, the next collaborative production between Christoph Marthaler and Tora Augestad will take place at the Volksbühne Berlin.
In 2004 Tora Augestad founded the ensemble MUSIC FOR A WHILE, made up of renowned musicians from the Norwegian jazz scene. After the release of their CD Weill Variations, the singer was awarded the renowned Lotte Lenya Prize, and in 2009 the ensemble was invited to the Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau. Their 2012 CD Graces that refrain, with new arrangements and interpretations of classical arias, was widely praised by the press. For mOOn Over tOwns, the debut CD of her BOA trio (clarinet, cello, and voice) twelve Norwegian composers created new works for this instrumentation.
Tora Augestad starts the 2014/15 season with Marcus Paus’s Hate Songs and Luciano Berio’s Folksongs with the Finnish Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Jukka-Pekka Sarasate. She will give the world premiere of Henrik Hellstenius’ new work Loven with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra under the composer’s direction and will once again perform Berio’s Folksongs with Joshua Weilerstein. She will also give the world premiere of Adam & Eve, an opera she commissioned from composer Cecilie Ore, at the 2015 Bergen International Festival.
MUSIC FOR A WHILE
is an ensemble consisting of some of the finest musicians from the Norwegian jazz and pop scene. Besides singer Tora Augestad singer, the members are Stian Carstensen on accordion and steel guitar, Mathias Eick on trumpet, Martin Taxt on the tuba and Pål Hausken on drums and percussions.
MUSIC FOR A WHILE interprets the bitter and painful, satirical and beautiful ballads and songs by Kurt Weill in a refreshingly original way. The first CD "Weill Variations", released in October 2008, includes songs of Weill's German, French and American periods and has already received many enthusiastic reviews. However, this versatile band does not stop at cabaret of the 1920-ies. Their new album "Graces that refrain" featuring classical songs has been released in summer 2012 and received high critical acclaim from press and audience alike. In 2013, the ensemble performed at the Bergen International Festival.
Tora Augestads voice and delivery are ideal for Weill's cabaret style but flexible enough to deal naturally with a context where the written and the improvised go hand-in-hand. (Ray Comiskey, The Irish Times)