Boundless inquisitiveness sits at the very heart of award-winning cellist Marina Hasselberg's rich artistic practice. Over the past decade, she has traveled a distinctive route that has variously led her through early music, free improvisation, the fringes of pop songcraft, electronics, contemporary chamber music, and an array of interdisciplinary collaborations that resist classification.
Hasselberg's deep and meticulous explorations have culminated in a solo practice that blends disparate elements from various musical realms. Her debut album RED (out October 2022 on Redshift Records) sees her insightful interpretive vision colliding with her improvisatory prowess. Recorded by violinist and JUNO and Polaris-winning producer Jesse Zubot, the disc leads listeners through an eclectic, electronics-infused, and deeply personal collection that weaves compositions by everyone from Domenico Gabrielli to Linda Catlin Smith, together with spontaneous performances that feature Hasselberg amidst a cast of her frequent collaborators: Aram Bajakian, Kenton Loewen, Giorgio Magnanensi, and Zubot. Veteran journalist Stuart Broomer touted the recording as a “vivid introduction to a musician as skilful as she is adventurous” Avant Music News' Daniel Barbiero wrote that it “paints a portrait of a multi-faceted artist whose musical interest span centuries.”
She's a powerful player that's nourished by her immersion in classical training, but by no means limited by it. Her relationship with the cello was ignited at age 11 during her studies at the musical academy of Évora, in her native Portugal. She later completed a Bachelor's degree in Lisbon, and in 2008, she came to Canada to pursue a Masters degree in Literature and Performance from the University of Western Ontario.
Since making Vancouver her home, Hasselberg has become a fixture within an assortment of the city's musical communities – both strictly as a cellist and as a vital creative instigator. In 2016, she was the recipient of the City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award for Emerging Artist in Music. She was also the feature artist for Pro Musica’s 2017 Sonic Boom Music Festival – an event that culminated in a sold-out concert where she premiered 11 new works for cello and electronics. As the artistic director of NOVO Ensemble she has commissioned and presented numerous works – especially by Canadian creators. In 2016, the group was rated Best Classical Ensemble in the Vancouver Is Awesome Reader's Poll, flanked by the Vancouver Symphony and Vancouver Chinese Music Ensemble. The long list of works she has premiered spans Howard Skempton's spartan lyricism to pop eccentric Veda Hille, fellow Vancouverite cellist Peggy Lee to plunderphonic provocateur John Oswald as well as other notables such as Jordan Nobles, Michael Oesterle, Lisa Cay Miller, and Andrea Young.
Hasselberg served as the principal cellist of the Vancouver Island Symphony, while also enjoying collaborations with Vancouver New Music, Early Music Vancouver, Sound of Dragon Ensemble, Redshift Music Society, Turning Point Ensemble, Okkyung Lee, Kee Avil, Lan Tung, Sarah Davachi, Uri Caine, Ingrid Laubrock, and Endlings, the duo of John Dieterich of Deerhoof and Pulitzer Prize winning composer Raven Chacon. She has even found herself accompanying highly regarded pop stars from Father John Misty to Mariah Carey. Georgia Straight journalist Janet Smith wrote of Hasselberg that she “has become a standout presence on Vancouver's music scene.” Meanwhile, speaking to her imagination and versatility, veteran writer Alexander Varty describes her as “a spark plug in two very different musical worlds.”