by Roberta Rocca, photos by Laura Urbonavičiūtė
It’s Sunday afternoon and a slightly biting wind is blowing, pushing the audience towards the entrance of Filmbyen, an almost deserted building close to the sea in Aarhus. It is big and greyish; hardly any aesthetic appeal. But the small audience, guided towards the sixth floor, is cheerful, friendly and vibrant in the expectation of what’s to come.
We arrive at the concert room. From the glass walls – it is nearly 5pm – you can see the orange spots of street lights carving their way through the grey endings of a winter day. The beautiful though slightly melancholic view over Aarhus reveals the reason behind the choice of such an unusual yet unexpectedly evocative location.
The lighting inside perfectly complements the setting, with the figures of the musicians only emerging from a room which is dark almost in its entirety. The atmosphere is just as cosy as that of a living room, rather than resembling a concert hall.
A rooted partnership
String ensemble Who Killed Bambi (WKB) is a group of talented musicians with both classical and modern background, who collaborate with artists from various genres to perform mostly suggestive re-arrangements of their pieces. Tonight they have teamed up with Ida Wenøe.
Wenøe needs no introduction: she’s a rising star who has already widely shown her talent as a folk singer and guitarist, or a “modern troubadour”. Her solo album, ‘Time of Ghosts’, is a beautiful compendium of her style. The collaboration between WKB and Ida dates back a few years. It has its roots in Aarhus, where Ida and Mette from WKB met. And this concert has further shown that there’s good reason for the collaboration to keep going.
The set list for the concert opens and closes respectively with Body Building and Mishimi by Philip Glass, two instrumental pieces that serve as a perfect introduction both to the sonority of the band, and to Ida’s voice.
Rearrangements of Ida’s songs for strings&guitar follow the instrumental opening. Each of her songs is a short tale in verses and music, turning frames of events into auditory shades of feelings.
Ida’s songs (both in Danish and English) are snippets of stories through which she directly targets the feelings and memories of her audience. To mention some highlights: Til Jeg Har Dig, the first song she performs, Let You Know, previously performed in Aarhus with WKB in 2014, and the enchanting Limbo Man.
Her performance shows an impressive mastery of the potential of her voice, swinging from high to low tones, pulling your emotions along with the fluctuations of the melody. Still, Ida’s voice remains in close dialogue with the strings, sometimes taking the lead, other times subsiding in a humble surrender.
The coupling between the folk repertoire and the timbre of strings is somewhat unusual, but harmonious. It results in a musical form which is a hybrid between a band performance and a cantata. The rearrangements by Mette Dahl Kristensen keep and enrich the intimate hue of introspection that characterises Ida’s songs.
As Ida says, most of her songs spontaneously arise from that huge part of her life spent travelling. The WKB reinterpretation seems to pick up on this aspect and even strengthen it. And in the end, the whole concert is pervaded by a bittersweet feeling of happiness, of gratefulness for being just here, just now, comforted by music and mesmerised by the lights of the city slowly entering the night.
Music for a year of culture
Sunday’s concert was part of a bigger project as part of Aarhus’ year as Capital of Culture. Starting with this concert, the quartet is planning to make one performance per month, each in collaboration with a different artist. The concept behind their ambitious project is to reveal a hidden, unexplored location in Aarhus with huge aesthetic potential each month. Filmbyen was definitely a successful start: tonight, this small room on the 6th floor, glass walls and clever lighting, was a tribute to the beauty of Aarhus in itself.
Read Who killed Bambi’s music profile to learn more about the group. Stay tuned for their next event: WKB & Sebastian Wolff @ Sydhavnen, Aarhus, February 3rd.