“…classical music language with a laid-back, postmodern sensibility.”
“Helbig is a master at evoking a rich convoy of textures, moods and emotions with a minimum of notes.”
“Listening to Helbig’s work you can hear the turn of the universe. It’s astonishing, and has far more in common with the atmospheric post-rock of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, or the mesmerising elegance of Sigur Ros than with Beethoven’s Fifth.”
Drowned in Sound
“Romantic, evocative and cinematic, his music manages at the same time to please and educate, seduce and challenge, renewing the promise of a European musical aesthetic that sometimes threatens to disappear, only to return as persistently relevant as the ancient continent it serenades.”
Naked but Safe
Sven Helbig writes music for choir, orchestra and chamber ensemble. Electronic sounds often form part of his compositions. His debut album Pocket Symphonies has been released on the renowned Deutsche Grammophon label. With his combination of classical composition techniques, electronics and distorted vibraphone sounds, he also appeals to a younger live audience from the ambient, indie and electronica scenes. His current choral work I Eat The Sun And Drink The Rain is being released on the new Berlin-based label Neue Meister.
Sven grew up in Eisenhüttenstadt, a planned city in Eastern Germany. As a child, this is where he discovered music from local brass bands, his parents’ vinyls and the few stations that he could pick up on his homemade radio. Electronic bricolage was his first passion and remained an element in his later music.
What began as a fascination with transistors and copper wires became his window to the world of music: he listened to Brahms and Mahler during night-time broadcasts, but also to the soundtrack to Stan Lathan’s “Beat Street”, the first film about hip hop. He started out learning clarinet and guitar, later moving on to drums. While studying music in Dresden, Sven Helbig also spent time in New York, where he jammed in Harlem and Lower East Side clubs.
The R&B and Gospel scene in New York offered a wholly new form of musical experience: the perfect unity between musician and audience that stems from the roots and traditions of the African-American community. This was a formative experience for Sven that continues to shape his music. Incidentally, his first pieces for chamber music and orchestra were also created while in New York.
In 1996 he returned to Dresden and, together with musician Markus Rindt, established Europe’s first orchestra devoted exclusively to contemporary music, the Dresden Sinfoniker.
He regularly orchestrates and arranges for the Pet Shop Boys, the ballet The Most Incredible Thing at London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre as well as The Man from the Future, which celebrated its debut at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall.
With wide-ranging interests, he creates music with artists as disparate as René Pape and the Fauré Quartett, Rammstein or writer Sibylle Berg.
In Pocket Symphonies, he approaches the ideal of accessible art-music with twelve miniatures for piano quartet and symphony orchestra. Sven continues with this topic in I Eat The Sun And Drink The Rain, his work for chorus and electronics, where he also wrote the lyrics.
In 2017, he was appointed Composer in Residence at the Moritzburg Chamber Music Festival and at the Spanish National Orchestra and Choir in Madrid. Sven is an honorary professor at the National University of General San Martin in Buenos Aires.