b. April, 19, 1977 Tallinn
Mezzo soprano Iris Oja is one of the most outstanding Estonian young singer who has achieved recognition both as a soloist of vocal-symphonic music and as a chamber singer. In her wide repertoire she has focused on interpreting and introducing contemporary music, especially Estonian new music.
Oja has graduated from Tallinn Music High School in 1995 as a choral conductor with Reet Ratassepp and from Tallinn Georg Ots Music School singing class of Tõnu Bachmann in 1999. In 1999–2003 she continued her singing studies at the Estonian Academy of Music with Professor Taru Valjakka and Professor Ivo Kuusk. Since 2003 she is obtaining her Master’s degree at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. She has participated in the masterclasses of Ellen Hargis, Rudolf Piernay an Roger Vignoles.
In 2002 Oja won the first prize at the Mart Saar Song Competition for Singers. In 2003 she participated in the Klaudia Taev International Competiton for Young Opera Singers in Pärnu and the Queen Sonja International Music Competition in Olso.
In 1996–1999, she sang in vocal quartet Sotto Voce, 1998–2000 in the Savonlinna Opera Festival Choir and 2000–2011, was the leading alto soloist of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. Since 2002, Oja belongs to the contemporary music ensemble Resonablis. Iris Oja is currently a freelance singer and collaborates with vocal ensembles like Theatre of Voices (Denmark) and Ars Nova Copenhagen, also with Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Coro Casa da Música in Porto.
Oja has performed solo parts in numerous vocal-symphonic works, such as Johann Sebastian Bach’s Mass B-minor, Magnificat, St. Matthew and St. John Passions, Christmas Oratorio and Osteroratorium, Georg Friedrich Händel’s Israel in Egypt, Messiah and Oratorio per la resurrezione, Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, Camille Saint-Saëns’s Christmas Oratorio, Joseph Haydn’s Stabat Mater, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Requiem, Krönungsmesse and Vesperae solennes de confessore, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Mass C-major, Missa solemnis and Symphony No. 9, Richard Strauss’s German motet, Igor Stravinsky’s The Wedding and Symphony of Psalms, Arvo Pärt’s Passio and Miserere etc.
As a soloist, Oja has performed with Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, Pärnu City Orchestra, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Concerto Copenhagen, The Israel Camerata Jerusalem and collaborated with conductors such as Nikolai Aleksejev, Jüri Alperten, Frieder Bernius, Roland Böer, Olari Elts, Paul Hillier, Risto Joost, Neeme Järvi, Tõnu Kaljuste, Eri Klas, Andres Mustonen, Kaspars Putninš, Daniel Reuss, Andris Veismanis, Arvo Volmer and others.
As a chamber singer her repertoire includes besides well-know opera arias also vocal works by composers from Estonia (Mart Saar, Eduard Tubin, Ester Mägi, Veljo Tormis, Lepo Sumera, Raimo Kangro and others) as well from abroad (Henry Purcell, Richard Strauss, Ferenc Liszt, Sergei Rachmaninov, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Manuel de Falla and others). She has appeared together with pianists Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann, Martti Raide, Ralf Taal, Kadri-Ann Sumera, Roger Vignoles, organist Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, cellists Levi-Danel Mägila, Ardo Västrik, guitarist Tiit Peterson, violinists Harry Traksmann, Helen Normet, flutist Tarmo Johannes, saxophonist Jandra Puusepp and many others. She has collaborated with different music collectives, e. g. Hortus Musicus, NYYD Ensemble, Tallinn Baroque and vocal groups Ars Nova and Theatre of Voices.
Whilst Oja has focused on interpreting contemporary music, she has participated in the premieres of several new works by composers from Estonia (Galina Grigorjeva, Age Hirv, Liis Jürgens, Tatjana Kozlova, Ülo Krigul, Kristjan Kõrver, Märt-Matis Lill, Malle Maltis, Alo Põldmäe, Rein Rannap, Mart Siimer, Eino Tamberg, Veljo Tormis, Toivo Tulev, Helena Tulve) as well from abroad (Antti Auvinen (Finland), Alberto Iglesias (Spain), Li Jiantong (China), Klaus Ib Jørgensen (Denmark), Santa Ratniece (Latvia)).
She has also participated in stage work productions. She has sung opera roles such as Olga (Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin, coproduction of Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and Sibelius Academy in Finland in 2003), Mamma Lucia (Pietro Mascagni Cavalieria Rustica, concert performance in 2004) and solo parts in chamber opera It Is Getting So Dark by Helena Tulve (Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir project in 2004), ballet-cantata Estonian Ballads by Veljo Tormis (2004) and opera scenes Ant John J. Plenty and Fiddler Dan by Galina Grigorjeva (2007).
Concert tours as a soloist, chamber singer and as a choral singer have taken her to the most European countries, Russia, Israel, USA, Canada, Australia and Japan. He has participated in numerous festivals in Estonia and abroad.
Oja has recorded her solo CD „Rachmaninov, Shostakovich – Songs” together with pianist Roger Vignoles (Harmonia Mundi, 2008). She performs Estonian contemporary music on CD of ensemble Resonabilis (Kristi Mühling, 2009) and Klaus Ib Jørgensen’s Moon-Pain for voice and 6 instruments (Dacapo Records, 2009). She also sings in Con misterioso by Grigorjeva on CD „Estonian composers III. Hortus Musicus” (ERCD045, 2003), Swinburne by Tally on CD „Estonian composers II” (ERCD032, 2001) and solo parts on Toivo Tulev’s author CD „Songs” (Harmonia Mundi, 2008) and different CDs by Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir.
© EMIC 2008
(updated in December 2016)
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