Composer Ejnar Kanding is known for exploring the possibilities within a wide range of musical expressions, from the bodily expanding to the emotionally static or melancholic. His uniquely colorful timbre unites the electronic and acoustic sound in complex textures, bodily energy, and delicate simplicity. Kanding’s music is a sensuous voyage into the unknown areas of inner life. Like a hall of mirrors, his music is a journey into the ambiguous. The musical expression, form, and phrase are in focus, often with electronic sound as a counterpoint. He is the artistic leader in the ensemble Contemporánea – Live Electronics Denmark and in EarUnit – concert series.
Kanding was born in 1965, he originally got his degree in composition and musical theory at The Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen in 1993, followed by studies at IRCAM in Paris and with Professor Lev Koblyakov in Jerusalem in 1994 and 1995, and he has since his debut concert from the Royal Danish Academy of Music in 1996 specialized himself in composing music for computer and instruments (live electronics). This has led to extensive use of the software MaxMSP in the development of his works and as an instrument in live performances.
The way Kanding uses the digital mixing console and MaxMSP as an instrument is pioneering the new assignment as a musician which is known as live electronics or sound direction. His virtuosity in this field has led to numerous performances of his own works or others of both improvised and written music with various groups, for example, works by Saariaho, Nono, and Stockhausen; and ensembles as Cikada (NO), Ars Nova (SE), Jack Quartet (NYC), Transit ensemble (NYC), ACME (NYC), Ensemble Adapter (DE) and Ensemble Mosaik (DE). As artistic director and executive sound director in ensemble Contemporánea, Kanding has traveled around the world. The ensemble specializes in the smooth and distinguished performance of works involving live electronics. In his capacity to lead Contemporánea and being chairman of the electroacoustic concert series EarUnit, Kanding has commissioned and premiered many works by Danish and foreign composers.
His works have been released on several albums, in 2023: Suite Résonance featuring guitarist George Vassilev (CH), Nordic Fragments featuring Trio Ismena (DK), in 2022 Nordic Broken med Messiaen Quartet (DK), Stillstehen featuring Ensemble Adapter (DE), and Garden of Gethsemane featuring ensemble Contemporánea (DK); and in 2021 Nine Waves featuring Nordic String Quartet (DK/SE) and Textures & Mosaics II featuring American Contemporary Music Ensemble (US). Earlier releases on CD: such as the numbered albums titled “…unsägliche Stelle” (1997) of his debut concert with the Danish ensemble Figura, “Profundización de Azul” (2001) – an entire album of Kanding’s music inspired by his many travels with ensemble Contemporánea to five South American countries in the late 90s, “Flug der Farben” (2012) with chamber and solo works composed for Contemporánea in the course of a 10 years period and the 2013 release of “Auxiliary Blue”, Dacapo, which marks a five-year-long collaboration with Frank Bretschneider (DE).
Kanding’s curiosity, openness, and urge to try out new territories have led to collaboration with artists where the border between musical and visual has been challenged. This is realized in the concert exhibitions with painter Nes Lerpa (a many years-long collaboration), the almost three-hour-long musical theatre “Happy in Dorado City” with director Wolfgang Häntsch (Berlin), a surrealistic dance performance with choreographer Camilla Stage and the installation “ReRememberer” by Suzanne Bocanegra (NYC) for improvised real-time processing by Kanding, improvising accordionist Frode Andersen, 50 violin-playing non-violinists and extremely amplified weaver.
Also, Kanding’s role as artistic leader of the ensemble Contemporánea has made it possible for audiences to experience his music at very diverse platforms such as the nightclub Nice T, Buenos Aires; an outdoor concert on the Andes Mountains, Bogotá; in David Lang’s flat (NYC), that has a scene for intimate performances, jazz club Blå, Oslo; night club Rust, Copenhagen and in the raw cement construction of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation’s new radio house, when only the building’s supporting parts were finished. The physical frames of the music have been prioritized, just like the performances’ content has been thought through holistically.
Kanding’s music is also appreciated in the traditional new music context and has been selected for prominent festivals such as International Computer Music Conference (2001, 2004, 2010), International Society for Contemporary Music (2002, 2008), Festival Synthése, Nordic Music Days, Up North, and Interactive Arts Performances Series at New York University, etc. Besides the Danish Arts Foundation’s three-year stipend and numerous work grants, Kanding has received several commissions from a string of international ensembles such as Osiris Trio (NL), Harry Sparnaay Trio (NL), Crash ensemble (IR), Cikada ensemble (NO), ensemble Ars Nova (SE), ensemble Adapter (DE), JACK quartet (NYC), Transit ensemble (NYC), American Contemporary Music Ensemble (NYC), Quinteto del Fuego (CH), The Six Tones (SE), Black Page Orchestra (AT), ConCordis (CH), Camerata Deià (ES), Zoë Martlew (GB), Todd Reynolds (US) as well as the Danish ensembles Figura, Athelas, Alpha Trio, Copenhagen Art Ensemble, Messerkvartetten, Ensemble Midtvest, Nordic String Quartet, Messiaen Quartet Copenhagen, Trio Ismena, Rudersdal Kammersolister.