Sofia Borges is a percussionist, composer and improviser who has gained prominence through a wide range of international projects. As a solo performer, and in collaboration with the most diverse international artists in the fields of contemporary music, improvised music, free jazz and world music, she has performed in a variety of international festivals, including the Hamburger Klangwerktage, WOMAD — World of Music, Arts and Dance (Spain, Australia, the UK and New Zealand), Percpan — Panorama Percussivo Mundial (Brazil), Women Voices (Taiwan), ZKM next_generation (Karlsruhe), Cork Choral Festival (Ireland) and many others in Switzerland, Estonia, France, Portugal, Macau and Poland. For her compositions and performances, she brings together traditional and custom-made instruments and electronics configurations.
Borges has been playing percussion since she was a teenager, receiving her early training on drums, percussion, jazz, chamber and orchestral music at the Escola de Música dos Conservatório Nacional (Portugal) and the Hot Club of Portugal. Subsequently, she broadened her studies to include composition, computer music and multimedia at the Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa (Portugal) and the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg (Germany). She has studied with composers Luís Tinoco, João Madureira, Sergio Azevedo, Georg Hajdu and Peter Michael Hamel, among others, and has participated in composition workshops with James Wood, Leo Samama, Marco Stroppa, Edith Canat de Chizy and Michael van der Aa.
Sofia Borges’ compositions cover a wide spectrum ranging from chamber and orchestral works to vocal music. She was commissioned by Antena 2 / RTP to compose D’Ouro Sobre Azul as the obligatory solo marimba work for the 2010 Prémio Jovens Músicos competition. She was a finalist in the Tenso Young Composers Award in 2015 (Marseille, France) and again in 2017 (Nova Gorica, Slovenia). Subsequently, Borges was commissioned to compose Color Charts for the City (for female voices and electronics) for the Tenso Professionals Meeting (Berlin, 2018). She has also worked as a composer and sound designer on various theatre and dance productions at Kampnagel (Hamburg) and Ballhaus Naunynstrasse (Berlin), as well as on several children’s theatre productions (Portugal).
As an improviser, Borges is active in the Berlin scene and has toured throughout Europe for solo performances and collaborations with the most prominent musicians in the field, receiving critical praise for her performances. She performs using a distinguished sound palette that constantly evolves but includes a selection of percussion instruments complemented by a wide variety of everyday objects, tools, hardware, music boxes and toys, with which she engulfs the audience in the most diverse and unexpected sonic landscapes.
She has been a member of Red List Ensemble since its founding in 2019, and also works with the music theatre ensemble Das Wilde Klingen and the free jazz improv quintet Sorbd, as well as with a range of musicians and improvisers including Edith Styer, Mia Dyberg, Ryeko Okuda, Ignaz Schick, Ulf Mengersen, Mathias Müller and Horst Nonenmacher. In 2020 she collaborated with the dance company Damaged Goods / Meg Stuart.
In addition to her compositional and performance activities, Sofia Borges is also an enthusiastic educator, committed to engaging the youngest generations in contemporary music and æsthetics, extended techniques, improvisation and sound art. In her composition workshops she initiates children and youths in new music and sound exploration with a focus on the relation between composition, sound, graphic notation, physicality and visuals, using traditional means as well as animated scores. Further, she collaborates with such renowned institutions as the Klangradar network, an experimental sound research and sound design programme across Germany, to produce artistic-oriented pedagogical content. For its 100th anniversary, the Bauhaus Foundation in Dessau commissioned a stage work from Borges that was intended for young performers and audience alike.
Rezessionen, Kritik, Medienresonanz
„Die Anwesenheit von George Haslam war ein großer Gewinn [für die Encontro de Música Improvisada de Atouguia da Baleia, Portugal], aber es war tatsächlich die portugiesische Perkussionistin Sofia Borges…, die sich als die herausragendste Persönlichkeit der Veranstaltung erwies.“, Rui Eduardo Paes, jazz.pt
„Die portugiesische Komponistin und Schlagzeugerin Sofia Borges hatte ihre eigenen Schlaginstrumente gebaut, die teilweise elektronisch waren und die sie sowohl spielte als auch mit einer Software steuerte. In dem Werk L’homme Machine#2 gab es eine wundersame, mit brutalem Lärm überlagerte musikboxartige Collage, in der das Spiel physisch konkret war, während das Konzert eine rein skulpturale Form annahm, als Borges die Software kontemplativ anpasste und die Maschinen sich in eine amorphe Masse verwandelten, die eine strukturierte Kakophonie lieferte.“ Andreas Engström, Opulent
“An excellent percussionist with gentle sounds and ways… She plays with gestures that seem to extract sounds – which were already there, making them audible – rather than impose them to her audience. Never arrogant, always original. Great soirée.” Pat Lugo. Tempo al Tempo./Exit Lab, Brussels 2017
„Der unbestrittene Höhepunkt war jedoch Borges komplizierte Perkussivität, mit der er nur ein paar Trommeln und einer Vielzahl von baumelnden Klangerzeugern geschickt detaillierte Rhythmen entlockte.“ Dave Jackson, A Jazz Noise
„Ein Album, das genaues Zuhören verdient.“, Rui Eduardo Paes, jazz.pt
„Es gab neue Gesichter wie Sofia Borges, die mit Kontaktmikrofonen bestückte Küchenutensilien und Field Recordings zu einer zarten Echtzeitcollage anrührte.“ , Eric Mandel, jazzthetik
„Die Vertonung von Sofia Borges ist Teil der narrativen Schiene und ebenso bewegend und tiefgründig.“, Gyde Cold
„Sofia Borges berührt in ihren Kompositionen wie zufällig magische Dinge.“, James Wood, Leo Samama, Tenso Jury Report 2015