Tora Augestad’s versatility inspires composers, theatre directors and conductors. By commissioning new works and through the collaboration with her various ensembles she continuously seeks new challenges and the exchange of artistic ideas. She knows how to be theatrically convincing and how to engage her vocal capabilities, which defy easy classification, in a compelling manner.
Born in Bergen in 1979, the singer/actress Tora Augestad studied classical music and jazz singing in Oslo and Stockholm, devoting herself principally to repertoire of the 20th and 21st centuries. While studying in Berlin and Munich she intensified her involvement in German music before graduating in cabaret singing from the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo.
Tora Augestad has become a regular guest in her native Norway and the rest of Europe, sharing the podium with musical partners such as the Ensemble Modern (Weill’s Three Penny Opera), Ensemble Contrechamps (Gardner’s No Thanks), Klangforum Wien (Grisey’s Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil), Remix Ensemble (Berio’s Folksongs), Finnish Chamber Orchestra (Paus’ Hate Songs), NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester (Widmann’s Dunkle Saiten), Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne (Manoury’s Lab.Oratorium), the Bamberg Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins), NRK Norwegian Radio Orchestra (Hillborg’s …lontana in sonno…), the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Hellstenius‘s As if the law is everything) and the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. She performed the premiere of an opera she commissioned herself at the Bergen Festival 2015: Cecilie Ore’s Adam & Eve.
The collaboration with the Swiss director Christoph Marthaler, which began in 2010 with the premiere of Beat Furrer’s Wüstenbuch, has become a constant in Tora Augestad’s artistic life. After the success of Marthaler’s Meine faire Dame, a take on My Fair Lady, at the Theater Basel in 2012 with guest appearances in Naples, Avignon, Edinburgh and Paris, the homage to Verdi’s Lo Stimolatore Cardiaco in Basel and the Zurich Opera House production of Sale with music by Handel followed. The staged Lieder recital King Size went on tour to cities including Hamburg, Prague, Moscow, Geneva, Turin, Rotterdam, London (Royal Opera House), Santiago de Chile, Sao Paulo and Jerusalem. The production Last Days. An Eve was performed at the Wiener Festwochen 2013, the Festival d’Automne Paris and at the Staatsoper Berlin. Recent productions at the Volksbühne Berlin included Hallelujah, Bekannte Gefühle, Gemischte Gesichter and Tessa Blomstedt gibt nicht auf, which was also invited to Mexico in 2016. In 2017, Mir nämeds uf ois was presented at the Schauspielhaus Zurich and in 2018 the Charles Ives-tribute Universe, Incomplete at the RuhrTriennale followed, for which she has been nominated Singer of the Year 2019 by Opernwelt.
In 2004, Tora Augestad founded the ensemble MUSIC FOR A WHILE, made up of high-class musicians from the Norwegian jazz scene. After the release of their CD Weill Variations, the singer was awarded the renowned Lotte Lenya Prize in 2008. Their album Graces That Refrain followed in 2012 and the CD Canticles of Winter in 2014. The ensemble has already appeared at the Kurt Weill Festival Dessau, Bergen International Festival, Beethovenfest Bonn, Dresden Music Festival, Handel Festival Halle, Musikfest Stuttgart and the Kissinger Sommer. Her BOA TRIO released its debut album mOOn Over tOwns in 2013 and has performed at the Ultima Festival Oslo, Radialsystem Berlin, Klangspuren Schwaz and Wien Modern. Her first ECM CD Rumi Songs was released in 2016. The solo-CD Portraying Passion (LAWO Classics, Oslo Philharmonic featuring works by Weill, Ives and Paus) has been nominated by the German Record Critics’ Award as best recording 2019 and been chosen as star/recording of the month by Fono Forum and Opernwelt magazine. It also has been awarded the Spellemannprisen 2019, the Norwegian Grammy. In 2019, her latest CD DIALOGUES has been released at Grappa.
In the season 2020/21, Tora Augestad will return to the Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne for a New Year’s Concert with conductor Joshua Weilerstein at the Kölner Philharmonie and to the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra for Reinbert de Leeuw‘s Im wunderschönen Monat Mai for the inauguration festival of the new Munch Museum Oslo. She will also present the Handel-programme As on a Sunshine Summers Day together with the Lautten Compagney Berlin at the Mercatorhalle Duisburg as well as Marthaler‘s King Size at the Théâtre Les Celestins Lyon and the Landestheater Bregenz i.a..
Tora Augestad was co-artistic director of the Hardanger Music Festival in Norway between 2015-2020. She was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize 2015, the most important cultural prize in Scandinavia, and was awarded as Performer of the Year by the Norwegian Composer Society in 2018.