conductor, director-author, composer
Karmina Šilec is one of the most provocative and exciting exponents of the contemporary music and theatre scene. As a theatre director-author, conductor and composer she executes projects with various companies, drama and opera houses, festivals and ensembles worldwide.Renowned for her original and research-oriented approach, Karmina has brought freshness to the music theatre world. Her projects have been granted with major international awards in the fields, including Music Theatre Now awards for Threnos (2021) and From Time Immemorial... (2008) and the International Robert Edler Prize (2004).
Her projects have been performed on stages and festivals of the highest esteem, including the Festival d'Automne á Paris (FR), Ruhrtriennale (DE), Prototype Festival NYC (USA), Holland Festival (NL), Moscow Easter Festival (RU), Dresdner Musikfestspiele (DE), Golden Mask (RU), Melbourne Festival (AU), Operadagen (NL), Auditorium, Rome (IT), Steierischer Herbst (AT), Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space (JP), St. Petersburg Philharmonic Hall (RU), Radialsystem (DE), World Music Days (organized by the ISCM), Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Teresa Carreño Theater (VE), Teatro Colon (AR), and Esplanade (SG), among others.
Šilec does not shy away from politically charged material. Her diverse range demonstrate a broad range of thematic concerns that are driven by the need to respond to current social and political transformations. She is drawn to issues that are disturbing, that stir emotions and rile audiences rather than placate them. Her works are loci for debate, contestation and provocation. They intentionally put at risk ideas that are insufficiently interrogated.
Karmina takes a creative approach to several critical political issues of our time, using a research informed approach. She foregrounds stories, situations and issues that are all too often overlooked, suppressed, or ignored and tries to contribute to the acceptance of the Otherness, to integrate the marginalized, transform and heal. For example, she tackles misogyny and sexism through an examination of the creativity of women in isolated environments (such as in monasteries, concentration camps) and research of himenology (virginity) as a phenomenon. She has used her artistic voice to speak politically on the necessity of the radical transformation of human-animal relations, above all in the transition from animal to meat. Her work has explored the phenomenon of collectivities when infected by ideology and dogmatic principles. She has critiqued the murderous violence behind religions; populism and radicalization; the abuse of church and state with their political doctrines and corrupt practices; and challenges facing societies in transition. In her projects she often puts music in a self-reflective frame by examining the complex relation between music and trauma. Her work posits that music becomes a universal symbol in suffering, and the ultimate sanctuary in despair.
Her current work exposes ongoing and misapprehended realities of women in our times. Baba is a multi/faceted and dynamic work that untangles myriad dimensions of gender, community, exclusion and tradition and their collisions with each other. Her newest work, Milica, casts critical light on femicide in Europe.
As author-director she has developed a unique artistic concept - Choregie. Choregie focuses on the creative process that brings the musical notion of composing to the theatrical aspects of performing and staging. In Choregie a ‘meta composition’ is created by positioning different materials (movement, music, words, visual) into a bigger composition. Choregie is a performance in the 'no-man's-world' – a world that is not a world of music, nor drama or dance; it is a scenic adventure. Each new project signed by Karmina Šilec is an expedition into the field of the unknown and the unexplored. The various and multiple dimensions of these projects surface in multi-disciplinary stage performances which logically complement the musical tissue and permeate with the basic elements of musical theatre – the concept of Choregie.
She has published: Nolite tacere – Translated in music (essays, Carmina Slovenica (SI), 2013), DERT endemic songs (poems, Carmina Slovenica (SI), 2021) and BABA: Catalog and Colossal Balkan fiction (fiction/essays, Založba Sanje (SI), 2021).
DISTINCTIONS, RESIDENCIES, LECTURES, AWARDS (selected)
Music Theatre NOW award for Threnos (for the Throat), 2021
Hewlett 50 commission for theatre, music theatre and spoken word, 2018 - 2022
STIAS, Institut for Advanced study at Stellenbosch University artist in residence, 2022
Harvard University Radcliffe Institute for advanced study Fellow 2018-2019
New Music USA, 2019, 2020
The Sterija Award for original theatre music, 2018
the Europe Theatre Prize - Theatrical Realities (EPTR) nomination, 2017
Golden Mask Theatre Award (together with Heiner Goebbels and Carmina Slovenica), 2016
Con tempus - Platform for contemporary art award, 2012
Music Theatre Now award in the category Music Beyond Opera (by the International Theatre Institute), 2008
International Robert Edler Prize, for exceptional contribution to the world choir movement, 2004
Teatarfest award for the most experimental theatre work, 2009
Glazer Credential for her achievements in the field of music, 2009
Carpe Vitam − Open Mind Stockholm award, 2005
Gallus award for outstanding achievements in the field of art, 200
The Prešeren Award; highest Slovenian award for achievements in art (for Vampirabile), 2000
The main Ford Award for the preservation of natural and cultural heritage (for the project Slovenian Sounds), 2002,
Recognition of important artistic works (correspondent to D.M.A), University of Ljubljana (SL), 1998
Golden Bird award for a creative approach to choral singing by Liberal Academy, 1994
Opera New Magazine: ... a constant stream of ideas, voice, movement, impressions and dosed emotion. In audience, you cannot do much more than almost breathless look and marvel at so much quality ... Theater spectacle ... a theater which aims for perfection in any discipline ...
Theater Mania: ... the grandiosity of the staging rivals what one might see at the Met ... an overwhelming aural and visual experience ... Šilec presents her arcana with a heavy dose of beauty and wonder ...
Opera News/Opera Guild: ... terpsichorean radicalism that were still often as physical as they were musical...wonderful cohesion... aural equivalent of Bausch’s Tanztheater ...
The New York Times: ... vibrantly theatrical, genre-blurring, unusual in its techniques, eclectic in its musical style and politically charged ... Ms. Šilec is savvy about maintaining dramatic momentum, and the performers execute every shift in tone with subtlety and agility ... striking new work by the rabidly talented Carmina Slovenica ... the ensemble and its director, Karmina Šilec, have created haunting images ... Toxic Psalms adds a savage yet polished theatricality to the mix as well as an ambiguity all too rare in American performance ... all add up to an evening that’s bracing yet, perversely enough, enchanting ...
Opera magazin:… in a half hour Carmina Slovenica brings a constant stream of ideas, voice, movement, and impressions - dosed - emotion. If audience can you not much more than almost breathless look and marvel at so much quality … Theaterspectacle … a theater which aims for perfection in any discipline …
Opera World: ... Carmina Slovenica is the musical answer to Bausch's groundbreaking concept of Tantztheater ...
New York Music Daily: ... breathtaking and equally relevant multimedia suite ... Šilec’s direction toyed with crowd dynamics on both the conformist and nonconformist sides with a coldly sardonic humor that offered momentary respite from the lingering bleakness of the music ... a sonically thrilling, disquieting premiere for Karmina Šilec’s Toxic Psalms ...
The Wall Street Journal: ... power of the performers ... haunting theatrical moments ...
Le Monde: ... they radiate fantastic energy, composure and professionalism on stage ... they can do anything... with that marvelous energy, composure and professionalism...
New York Observer: ... strikingly staged by Karmina Silec... visually the show was elegantly spare ... Carmina Slovenica are collectively and individually heroic, they sent their voices pealing out like a band of angels ...
Agence France Press: ... innovative theater company Carmina Slovenica ... intellectually challenging ...
San Francisco Classical Voice:...Carmina Slovenica are in your face, created by women, driven by women, not afraid to show their teeth or shout down injustice ... pure talent and virtuosity is astounding ... the languages, time periods, and cultures blurred into visceral emotion and reaction ...
Financial Times: ... Carmina Slovenica (under conductor Karmina Šilec) is a phenomenonin itself ...
The Telegraph: ... Carmina Slovenica gained a world-wide reputation for their powers of story-telling through choral songs ... joyous moments of collective energy or anarchy that these astonishing performers shone, and the piece itself really came alive ...
Basellandshaftlische Zeitung: ... Karmina Šilec’s choral opera Fauvel is a really interesting, multilayered and a very aesthetic work ... captivating beauty ... veritable Theaterspektakel with immense beautiful images ... like a bulky work of art in a museum that refreshes, encourages us to think, distresses and embraces at the same time. And that is the reason why it continuously invites the viewer to new observations – if one only allows it ...
Delo: ... gesture, facial expression, choreography and the dynamics of the performers are mainly in the service of graduating suggestiveness, the images and stage tableaux are never self-sufficient; they are dosed with precision, without causing distraction or offering misleading emphasis of the substance; there is always and only music in the forefront. And how extremely diverse and heterogeneous it is; an exceptional sense of combining what appears to be incompatible, culminating into a surprisingly homogenous totality in the end - yet another quality of the director ...
Theatre review Melbourne... the world renowned ‘Vocal Theatre Carmina Slovenica’... the theatrics and the beauty of music and glamour of vocals ...
Neue Musikzeitung: ... professional precision that leaves one speechless. From choral singing, through crystal clear choral speaking, to simple stage movement – individual, in groups, as a whole, with or without props ... and that is of course where the similarity to Heiner Goebbels’s understanding of theatre can be found ...
Večer: ... precision, elegance and suggestive power, incredible sensibility with the right measure of how musical and scenic elements are incorporated into a convincing corpus ... creates a mystical atmosphere without mystifying, reaches a hallowed status without allegory; the demanding repertoire chosen without artistic hermetism, dramatic effect reached without being pathetic, set and costume design perfected without pompousness or even exhibitionism ...
Paarol: ... Vocal Theatre Carmina Slovenica like laser beams through the soul ... You have to hear and see it to be able to believe it ...
Der Standard... deeply rooted, seemingly quite independent energy, that moves us ...with precise choreography and skilful brilliance that abounds in choral manoeuvres ...
lectures at Universities:
Harvard University (USA), Stias-Stellenbosch University (ZA), University of Maribor (SI), University for Music and Performing Arts Graz (AU), University of California (USA), Stockholm university (SE), University of Siauliai (LT), Music Academy in Zagreb (CR), Theatre Academy Saint Petersburg (RU), Music Academy Ljubljana (SI), University of Viña del Mar (CL), etc.
lectures/workshops at symposiums/conferences:
International Symposium on Singing and Song (CA), IFCM Symposium for Choral Music (KR), Europa Cantat (ES, BE, HU), Estonian choral federation (EE), Ministry of Education in Singapore (SG), Lithuanian Choral federation (LT), Flemish Choral Federation (NL), World choir games (AU, RU, KR), Klemetti Institute (FL), Spanish choral federation (E), National choral convention Mexico (MX), World Symposium for Children’s choirs Vancouver (CA), World choir games Sochi (RU), Choir Games Xiamen (CN), etc.
speaker at Congresses:
Clasicall:Next Rotterdam (NL), Sharing the Voices 500 (CA), International Symposium Donne in Musica (IT), Tenso (European professional chamber choirs association) (NL), Symposium Voice (CA), World Conference for Choral Music (HK), Osterreichises Chorkongress (AT), Conductor's Conference IFCM (VE), Voices of Origin/IFCM Ethnical choral music congress (PR), etc.
She has collaborated on various international projects, has created more than 50 staged or thematically rounded projects, done more than 100 concert tours worldwide, participated at 70 international festivals and has collaborated with many excellent artists from different eras: Heiner Goebbels, Krisztof Penderecki, Paola Prestini, Hermut Haenchen, Jacob Cooper, Marko Letonja, Vladimir Ivanoff, Maria Graf, Bernhard Landauer, Karl Heinz Brandt, Sidra Bell, Japp Blonk, Istvan Horkay, Royce Vavrek, Miguel Vallinas, Jernej Lorenci, Sebastjan Horvat, Huang Rao, etc.
International festival Choregie 2010 –
Concert series Attacca 2008 -
Concert series Choregie 2012 -
New music theatre competition, 2012
International festival Attacca, 2004 - 2018
As a jury member at choral conducting competitions and choir competitions she has judged more than 50 competitions worldwide, among them also the prestigious Eric Ericson competition for choral conductors, Grand Prix Europe, International competition Gallus, Tampere festival, Grand prix of nation, World choir games, etc.
a member of several artistic committees and commissions (Commission for ethnical and multicultural music, IFCM (International Federation for Choral music), artistic committee of International competition Gallus Maribor, member of Choir Olympics Council, etc.
CS Editions, Music collection ATTACCA (JSKD), Consultant for music of Central Europe for Earthsongs Publishing (USA).
Music theatre/staged concerts/installation/composition (selected)
Evergreen or who would not weep (Opera and ballet Ljubljana, SI), 2016
Fauvel (Theater Basel, CH), 2016
Fortuna wont be Fauvels’s match! (SNG Maribor, SI), 2015
Toxic Psalms /Ultimate collective experience (St. Ann’s Warehouse, NY), 2015
Scivias (Palao de la musica Catalana, Barcelona, E), 2015
Spixody (festival Predihano Ljubljana, SI), 2006
It is a story about you, E 78 (Pecs, HU), 2015
Slovenian Sounds (Cankarjev dom, SI), 2001
Na juriš in the mood! (Cankarjev dom Ljubljana, SI), 2009
Adiemus (Cankarjev dom Ljubljana, SI), 2005
Vampirabile (Cankarjev dom Ljubljana, SI), 2000
Scent of Ancestors (Radyal System Berlin, DE), 2013
What have you got against peasants, lady? (Choregie festival), 2013
Placebo or Is There One Who Would Not Weep (Choregie festival), 2012
Rusalke (Španski borci Ljubljana, SI), 2010
From Time Immemorial … (Opera and ballet Slovenian National Theatre Maribor SI), 2002
CS LIGHT (Cankarjev dom Ljubljana, SI), 2007
Stripsody (National theatre Maribor, SI) 2005
Perspective East (festival Choregie, SI), 2011
Die Ursonate, (Art Gallery Maribor, SI) 2009
Scivias (Cankarjev dom Ljubljana, SI), 2001
Who'd Have Thought That Snow Falls (festival Choregie, SI), 2012
Vertical Thoughts (National theatre Maribor, SI), 2010
When the Mountain changed its clothing (Ruhrtrienalle, DE), 2012
Miracles (festival Choregie, SI), 2011
Pleading for words (Slovenian Music Days, SI), 2011
Choregie/thematic concerts (selected)
DERT - endemic songs (2021), Intono (2018), D. Lang: Little Girls Matches (2018), VOGP Music for Survival (2018), Balkanika 2 (2017), Lajtl (2017), G. Bryars: Laude cortonese (2016), elegance a la francese (2016), Za dobro letino (2016), Zvoki Azije (2010), Balkanika (2014), Words and music (2014), Dveri (2013), Tehilim (2013), Brez kiklce (2009), Americas (2008), Slovenian Sounds 2 (2008), Drum café (2006), O Succesoress (2005) , From the Stone in the Water (2005), O, Deus (2005), Balkanika (2005), Miraculum (2004), Musica Inaudita (2002), Nolite tacere (2001), Songbridge (2000), Fallen Women (1999), Aurora (1997), More a tale than reality (1995), Messe in d-minor by Peter Cornelius (1992), This time a bit different (1991). Invocations (2016), etc..
Karmina Šilec has projects with various companies, opera houses and ensembles worldwide, among them Basel Opera, Slovenian National Opera and Ballet Maribor, Carmina Slovenica, Radio Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, Slovenian National Project Choir, ¡Kebataola! ensemble, Orchestra Chorus Instrumentalis, National chamber orchestra of Chile, Lithuanian chamber choir, Big Band and Wind Orchestra of the Slovenian Army, female choir Rotovž, ansambel STOP, Musica Cubicularis, Mexican national choir, Mixed choir of Faculty of Education Maribor, National Youth Choir of Carinthia, Kantika, and many other.
As choral conductor she also collaborated in several operas, oratorios and other bigger works.
MUSIC FOR THEATRE
Šema elektro (Carmina Slovenica), 2022
Black snow (The Drawing Center, New York), 2019
Stabat Mater or Letters from Mother to a son ( Bressanone, IT), 2019
Michelangelo (Dubrovnik summer festival, National theatre I.P Zajc, CR), 2018
Heavenly Kingdom (BITEF festival, National drama Belgrade, SR), 2017
Nolite tacere - Translated in Music, 2013,
DERT - endemic songs, 2021,
BABA: Colossal Balkan Fiction,
BABA: Catalog, 2021
CD: DERT (2021), Landscapes - Winter (2020), VOGP Music for survival (2019), Laude Cortonese (2017), Toxic Psalms (2015), When the Mountain Changed its clothing (2013), Pleading for Words (2011), Americas (2011), Balkanika (2010), Musica Inaudita ll. (2010), Na juris in the mood! (2009), Drum café (2009), Muisca Inaudita l. (2007), Vampirabile (2007), CM1 (2006), Citira (2002), Times and Places (2001), Following the sun (1998), Drumlca (1997), Dream a dream (1996), To
the strings (1995), More a tale than reality (1995)
VINYL: Na juris in the mood! (2009
DVD: Threnos (for the Throat) (2021), Documentary film Placebo (2016), What do you have against Peasants, Lady? (2014), Placebo or Is There One Who Would Not Weep (2013)
TAPE: P. Cornelius: Masse in D Minor, 1991
AUDIO BOOK:BABA: Colossal Balkan Fiction (2021), endemic songs (2021)
Operadagen Rotterdam (NL), Festival Coralies (FR), Prototype festival, NY (USA) Golden Mask Moscow (RU), Dubrovnik Summer festival (CR), Bitef festival (RS), Theatre festival Basel (CH), Melbourne festival (AU), Radial Vokalnacht, Radial system Berlin (DE), Holland festival (NL), Theatre confrontations Lublin (PL), Kunstfestspiele Herrenhausen Hannover (DE) Kunstenfestivaldesarts Brussels (BE), Ruhrtrienalle (DE), Festival Autumne de Paris (FR), Borštnikovo srečanje (SI), Steierisher Herbst (AT), Korofest (TU), Festival O. (NL), Urban fest Niš (RS), Slovenian Music Days (SI), Nuit de Choers Festival (BE), European choir festival Basel (CH), Teatarfest Sarajevo (BIH), festival Resurexit (LT), Festival Voice of the Americas future (USA), Choral festival in Coimbra (PT), Dresdener Musikfestspiele (DE). World music Days (SI), International showcase Polyfolia (FR), Wratislavia Cantans (PL), Moscow Eastern festival (RU) , Cantapueblo Mendoza (AR), festival Viňa del Mar (CL), International Choir Festival (CN), America Cantat (VE), Europa Cantat (FR, E, HU), Choir Olympics Linz (AT), Sympatti festival (FL), etc..