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GOUACHE for Ensemble by Nina Šenk (Slovenia, 1982)

[#202] June 5, 2023

2018 | Chamber Ensemble | Grade 6 | 10'-15' | Contemporary

Slovenian composer Nina Šenk
Credit: Ciril Jazbec

Gouache, by Slovenian composer Nina Šenk is our Composition of the Week. Gouache is the French term to call a water-medium paint, similar to watercolor, but modified to make it opaque.

Gouache was finished in 2018, premiered on November 15 of the same year by the Slowind Wind Quintet and Klangforum Wien, during the Slowind Festival in Ljubljana, which is the main Slovene‘s scene for modern and contemporary music.

Goauche is structured in a single movement, of about 15 minutes of duration, and it is scored for: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon,2 horns, trumpet, bass trombone, percussion, piano,violin, viola, cello and double bass

So far my approach to a new composition originated from the selection of colours -the chosen colours dictated the patterns and structures of the piece. With this piece I am trying to approach it from an opposite perspective -the rhythmical and melodic patterns and structures are determined first, the variations of different colours that also change the atmosphere, mood or even the structure are for me the main focus.My research on this approach led me to investigate the techniques and materials that painters use and I found gouache (French, after guazzo -which is Italian for mud) fascinating.With the painter Nika Zupančič I share common views on work and creation. For this occasion she has made a number of Color Studies in Gouache that reflect the process of creation and are an inspiration for my work. Program notes by Nina Šenk

Nina Šenk graduated in composition from the Ljubljana Academy of Music under prof.Pavel Mihelčič, then continued her postgraduate studies in composition in Dresden under the mentorship of Prof. Lothar Voigtländer and obtained her master’s degree in the class of Prof. Matthias Pintscher at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich. She is a recipient of many awards, including the Prešeren Fund Prize for her creative work in 2017 and Johann Joseph Fux Prize 2021, awarded by the government of the Austrian state of Styria, for her new opera Canvas.

Nina Šenk’s works have been performed at numerous important international festivals (BBC Proms, New York Philharmonic Biennial, Salzburger Festspiele, Young Euro Classic Berlin, Kasseler Musiktage, Musica Viva Munich, Frankfurter Positionen, Weimarer Frühjahrstage, Heidelberger Frühling, Takefu Festival, Ljubljana Summer Festival, Slowind Festival, Slovenian Music Days, World MusicDays, World Saxophone Congress, etc.) and in many other concerts around the world with various orchestras and ensembles (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble InterContemporain, Klangforum Wien, Ensemble Modern, Scharoun Ensemble, Ensemble Mosaik, London Sinfonietta and others).

Since 2019 she is an associate member of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, artistic director of the Concert Atelier Concert Series of the Slovenian Society of Composers since 2015,artistic director of the Concert Series Koncertni abonma Ribnica since 2018 and memberof the organisational board of the international contemporary music festival New Music Forum Ljubljana since 2020.


Other works for winds include:

  • Phases of water, saxophone quartet (2006)

  • Navitas II, for brass trio (2006)

  • Augenblicke, for wind quintet(2009)

  • Navitas III, for brass quintet (2013)

  • Silhouettes and Shadows, for wind quintet (2016)

  • The ugly duckling suite, for brass ensemble and percussion (2017/18)

More information on Nina Šenk


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