Helene Gjerris

Professor and Head of Department, Voice
Helene Gjerris

 "The ever brilliant Helene Gjerris"
– Guy Rickards, Gramophone

Described as "perhaps Danish music’s greatest find for a long time", mezzo soprano Helene Gjerris emerged as a unique figure on the Danish music scene even before she made her official debut in 1997. With an all-encompassing talent and a warm clear voice, Helene commands an intensive and passionate presence on stage.

Trained at The Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen and at École Philippe Gaulier, a London-based school of Dramatic Arts, Helene Gjerris began her career singing Renaissance music in the vocal ensemble Ars Nova Copenhagen. By the age of 24 she was already co-founder of the contemporary music ensemble FIGURA.

She has since appeared in European baroque stage productions in operas by Händel, Monteverdi and Cavalli. In the standard repertoire, she has performed parts such as Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro and Maddelena in Rigoletto, and been lauded for her title roles in, for example, Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Bizet’s Carmen at The Danish National Opera and The Royal Opera in Copenhagen. In addition, she has sung as a soloist with all the Danish symphony orchestras in concert and oratorios by Bach, Händel and Mozart, and is regularly heard in concerts performing a wide repertoire from the Berlin cabaret scene of the 1930’s.

Her charismatic performance style comes into its own particularly in contemporary music. She has performed an extensive amount of contemporary music throughout her career and several works have been composed especially for her.

Recordings for the Dacapo label include Danish composer Per Nørgård’s opera Nuit des Hommes, his cantata The Will-o’-the Wisps Have Gone to Town, and the anthology of chamber music Songs from Evening Land as well as Rued Langgaard’s late-Romantic mystery play Antichrist and new works by Thomas Agerfeldt Olesen, Niels Rosing-Schow and Sunleif Rasmussen.

The numerous accomplishments in her wide-ranging repertoire have earned her many awards, notably the Aksel Schiøtz Prize, the honorary prize of the Danish Composers' Society, and the Reumert Prize.

In addition to her career on stage, Helene holds a Master’s Degree in Elite Voice Pedagogy. She has been a member of staff at The Danish National Academy of Music in Odense since 2003, in a professorship from 2009 to 2016. From 2009, she furthermore taught at The Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen and was here appointed professor and Head of Voice Department in 2016. She teaches vocal technique, interpretation and performance skills, and her repertoire that includes a large variety of Lied, oratorio, opera and vocal chamber music.

In the field of education, she has also excelled with artistic and pedagogical research in the fields of interpretation, in performance skills and improvisation for instrumentalists and singers, and has developed a drama training program for young singers at The Danish National Academy of Music in Odense. Lastly, she has given concert lectures on the performance of works for solo voice with graphic scores including improvisation.

"Helene Gjerris inspires with a record achievement of vocal and interpretative powers."