Ana Sokolović

  • Belgrade (Serbia), 1968
  • Composer

A key figure in contemporary music, composer Ana Sokolović was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia), in 1968 and is based in Montreal since 1992. With a background in the rhythmic universe of Balkan folklore, her music is coloured with playful images and inspired by differing artistic disciplines. Her vast repertoire is regularly performed both in Canada and internationally.

Attracted to artistic expression at an early age, Ana Sokolović started studying classical ballet at age four, before turning to music and theatre. She began university studies in composition with Dušan Radić in Novi Sad and Zoran Erić in Belgrade, before completing a master’s degree with José Evangelista at l’Université de Montreal in the mid-1990s.

Her career quickly took off in Montreal. In 1995, her piece Ambient V was included in a programme for the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) for which she composed Jeu des portraits the following year. This piece paid tribute to Québec music and was premiered for the SMCQ’s 30th anniversary. Commissions for the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (ECM+), Molinari Quartet, Esprit Orchestra, Turning Point Ensemble, Quatuor Bozzini, among many, followed. Her music is also supported by renowned orchestras such as the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (Charles Dutoit, Kent Nagano), the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra.

Fourth most performed female opera composer in the world in the last decade (according to Operabase), Sokolović’s hears her works performed throughout Europe and North America. Her first opera, The Midnight Court, presented at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, was noted for its “refreshingly playful, inventive, joie de vivre sound world” (Opera News). Svadba, which “seems to invent a universal phonetics of the human heart” (Le Monde), has been performed more than fifty times, including by Opera Philadelphia, San Francisco Opera, the Perm Opera (under the direction of Teodor Currentzis) and at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. Additionally the work won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for “Outstanding New Opera.”

Sokolović’s fascination with various forms of artistic expression informs her work, as evidenced by its wide range and incidental music. This is evidenced in her stage music, including prestigious collaborations with choreographer Louise Lecavalier, director Denis Marleau, playwright Stéphanie Jasmin, and Oscar-nominated director Theodore Ushev for the film Third Page After the Sun.

Between 2011-2012, Sokolović’s music was celebrated across Canada in a Homage series of over 200 events dedicated to her and initiated by the SMCQ. Her career as a composer has been marked by numerous awards and recognitions, including two consecutive JUNOs in the category of “Classical Composition of the Year”: in 2019 for her work Golden slumbers kiss your eyes (for countertenor, choir and orchestra) and in 2020 for Evta, a concerto for violin and full ensemble. She has also won the Conseil québécois de la musique’s “Composer of the Year” award, the SOCAN Jan-V-Matejcek Award, the Fondation Serge-Garant’s Émile-Nelligan Award, and the National Arts Centre Composer Award, which included a teaching residency and several commissions.

Sokolović’s works have been recorded on more than twenty discs, including several by important ensembles and ardent supporters of her music: Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (ECM+), Quatuor Bozzini, Ensemble Transmission, Turning Point Ensemble. Festivals around the world have also featured her work, including the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Festival Présences in Paris, Nordic Music Days in Reykjavik, Venice Music Biennale, Zagreb Music Biennale, Holland Festival in Amsterdam, aDevantgarde Festival in Munich, El Cervantino in Mexico City, Diaghilev Festival in Perm, Beijing Music Festival, and the ISCM Music Days event in Vancouver.

In 2020, she joined the prestigious publishing house Boosey & Hawkes. The following year, she was appointed composer-in-residence at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for three seasons. In 2022, Ana Sokolović was awarded the first Canada Research Chair in Opera Creation at l’Université de Montréal where she is also a professor of composition. This same year, she became the new artistic director of the SMCQ, the most important Canadian organization dedicated to contemporary music.

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