An important figure in contemporary music, the composer Ana Sokolović has distinguished herself both in Canada and internationally through her numerous prestigious collaborations.
A native of Serbia, Ana Sokolović has been immersed in the arts all her life. Before taking up theatre and music, she studied classical ballet. She studied composition at university under Dusan Radić in Novi Sad and Zoran Erić in Belgrade and then completed a master’s degree under the supervision of José Evangelista at the Université de Montréal in the mid-1990s.
Her work is suffused with her fascination for different forms of artistic expression. Both rich and playful, her compositions draw the listener into a vividly imagined world, often inspired by Balkan folk music and its asymmetrical festive rhythms. The winds of change brought by her work quickly vaulted her to a prominent position on the Quebec, Canadian and international contemporary music scenes.
Pieces for voice, opera, orchestra and chamber music and the stage are evidence of her prolific work.
Her lyric works have won over the hearts of a substantial public, including her opera Svadba, which “seems to invent a phonetic universe of the human heart” and evokes a “small-scale Sacre du Printemps” (Le Monde). Her operas have been produced in many cities (Toronto, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Aix-en-Provence, San Francisco, Anger, Nantes, Luxembourg, Perm, Ljubljana, Montpellier, Montréal, Milwaukee) and schools (Peabody Institute à Baltimore, Brooklyn College, Bard College, Hochschule Für Musik à Hannover). Another notable operatic fact: her first opera, The Midnight Court, was produced at Royal Opera House Covent Garden. It is one of four pieces- three being operas- that were commissioned by the Queen of Puddings Music Theatre (Dir. Dáirine Ní Mheadhra and John Hess). Her commission for the prestigious Canadian Opera Company (Johannes Debus) will be premiered during the 2019-2020 season.
Sokolović’s orchestral works have been performed by many ensembles, including the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (Dir. Charles Dutoit, Kent Nagano), National Arts Centre Orchestra, Ottawa (Alexander Shelley, Johannes Debus), Mediterranean Youth Orchestra (Carlo Rizzi), Esprit Orchestra (Alex Pauk), Victoria Symphony (Tania Miller), Vancouver Symphony (William Rowson, Pierre Simard), Belgrade Philharmonic (Cristian Mandeal), Windsor Symphony Orchestra (Brian Currant), as well as several university orchestras under the direction of Jean-François Rivest, Alexis Hauser, Boris Brott, Daniel Myssyk and Cristian Gort.
Commissions and premieres of her chamber music works have been rendered by many organizations and ensembles, such as ECM+ (dir. Véronique Lacroix), NEM (Lorraine Vaillancourt), SMCQ (Walter Boudreau), Turning Point Ensemble (Owen Underhill), Aventa Ensemble (Bill Linwood), Vancouver New Music (Giorgio Magnanensi), Contemporary Music Ensemble, McGill (Guillaume Bourgogne), and Plexoos Ensemble (Andriy Talpash). Additionally, works for other musical formations have been commissioned and performed by the following : Quatuor Molinari, Quatuor Bozzini, Cecilia String Quartet, New Orford String Quartet, Emily Carr, Ironwood, Goldmund (Berlin), Anima (Berlin), Trio Fibonacci, Ensemble Transmission, Trio Gryphon, Ensemble Paramirabo, Musica Intima, Evergreen Gamelan ensemble, CASP (Canadian Art Song Project), Land’s End Ensemble, Nu:BC Collective, Thin Edge New Music Collective, Erreur de type 27, Quintette Pentaèdre.
A plethora of soloists have initiated fruitful collaborations as well. Among them are the instrumentalists Angèle Dubeau (and la Pietà), Andréa Tyniec, Yegor Dyachkov, Stéphane Lévesque, Lori Freedman, Brigitte Poulin, Lara St-John, Marina Thibeault, Marc-André Hamelin, Joseph Petric, Milan Milošević, Mathieu Gaudet, Silvia Mandolini, Christina Petrowska-Quilico, Jutta Puchhammer-Sédillot, Marine Thibault, Ariel Barnes, Matt Haimowitz, Maja Bogdanović, Mario Brunello, Stéphane Lemelin, Julian Armour, Emanuel Vukovich and Marc Djokić, as well as the singers Barbara Hannigan, Krisztina Szabo, David DQLee, Jane Archibald, Laura Whalen, Florie Valiquette, Jacqueline Woodley, Shannon Mercer, Laura Albino, Mireille Lebel, Andrea Ludwig, Jana Miller, Helen Pridmore, Xin Wang, Kristin Hoff, Lauren Philips, Natalie Choquette, Marie-Annick Béliveau, Michèlle Motard, Magali Simard-Galdès, Ingrid Smithüsen, Carla Huhtanen, Ellen Wieser, etc.
It is also important to note the numerous festivals where the composer’s music has been performed, such as at Aix-en-Provence, Présence (Paris), Nordic Music Days (Reykjavík), Biennale (Venice), Biennale (Zagreb), Holland Festival (Amsterdam), MNM (Montréal), ADEvantgarde Festival (Munich), Cervantino (Mexico), Diaghilev (Perm), ISCM Music Days (Vancouver).
Finally, Ana Sokolović’s open-mindedness and artistic curiosity have led her to collaborate with artists within other disciplines, such as Theodore Ushev for Third page from the Sun (Oscar nomination) and other directors of short and experimental films. She also works with the choreographer Louise Lecavalier, the dancer Teodor Currentzis and the playwrights Denis Marlot and Stéphanie Jasmin (Théâtre UBU) at Espace GO.
Over the years, Ana Sokolović has earned a steady stream of commissions and awards. From 1995 to 1998, she was a three-time recipient of the SOCAN Foundation Award for Young Composers. In the 1999 edition of CBC Young Composers Competition, she won the grand prize along with the first prize in the chamber music category. In 2005, she won the Joseph S. Stauffer Prize presented by the Canada Council for the Arts, and in 2007 the Conseil québécois de la musique awarded her the Prix Opus for composer of the year. In 2008, she won the Jan V. Matejcek Award presented by SOCAN and in 2009, she received the National Arts Centre Award, which included residencies and teaching positions over a five-year period, as well as a commission. In 2011-2012 her music was celebrated with more than 200 events across the country through the initiative of the SMCQ. Her opera Svadba has received 6 nominations for the Dora Mavor Moore Awards and won for Outstanding New Musical/Opera. In November 2015, she was awarded the Serge-Garant prize by the Foundation Émile-Nelligan.
A dozen recordings have been produced of her works: Ana Sokolović – Folklore imaginaire by Ensemble Transmission, Higgs Ocean by Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan with the Quatuor Bozzini, Thirst (TK442) by Turning Point Ensemble (Dir. Owen Underhill), Nouvelle musique montréalaise vol. II by Julie- Anne Derome and Silvia Mandolini, Nouveaux territoires by ECM+ (Dir. Véronique Lacroix), Jeu des portraits, monographic disc by ECM+ (Dir. Véronique Lacroix), Édifices naturels by Brigitte Poulin, So You Want to Write a Fugue by Christina Petrowska-Quilico, Odusia by Mario Brunello, Figment by Matt Haimovitz, 5×3 by Trio Fibonacci. To come: a second monographic recording by ECM+ (Dir. Véronique Lacroix).
In addition to her activities as a composer, Ana Sokolović is also a professor of composition at the University of Montreal.