Finnish composer and sound designer Marko Nyberg has composed music to a new ballet production by Birmingham Royal Ballet. Black Sabbath – The Ballet premiered at the Birmingham Hippodrome on September 23. We took the opportunity to ask him a little about the composing process and the meaning of Black Sabbath to him.
The production is very unique in its subject choice – this is the first ever ballet about Birmingham based hard rock and metal legends Black Sabbath – and quite probably also the first ever ballet about any metal band altogether. Not surprisingly, the ballet has made headlines in major media all around the world.
Marko Nyberg comments that also the production was unique in every respect.
“The artistic working group consisted of a very wide range of backgrounds. The evening of three acts, three choreographers, three composers succeeded well in connecting and creating bridges between worlds,” Nyberg states.
Marko Nyberg is a Finnish musician, producer, songwriter and composer, who first became famous with his band Husky Rescue. Besides his band music, Nyberg has composed film and media music, and in 2022 he released his debut solo recording, the “Ingrid EP”. Read our feature interview with Nyberg here.
Going into composing project, Nyberg was no stranger to Sabbath’s sounds – contrary to some other members of the production. Nyberg was originally recommended to the project by Oscar Zepeda of major publishing company Wise Music Group. They first contacted at Music Finland’s Lentoon mentoring program in 2017.
"The juxtaposition of heavy metal and ballet – two seemingly disparate cultures – evokes a sense of cultural clash, making the experience of working with such a legacy all the more extraordinary" – Marko Nyberg
“At first I was surprised that several top professionals who have spent their entire professional careers in classical music work in the production, have completely been spared contact with Black Sabbath’s music,” Nyberg laughs.
“Similarly, about half of the audience has no previous connection to the ballet world! However, the experience was professionally enriching in every way and it was great to understand the value of my own background in production,” he says.
From Nyberg’s aspect, Black Sabbath has certainly an impressive band since the first time he heard the band’s music as a school kid. While he says that Sabbath was not the music he was raised on, he was very inspired to take on the composing commission.
“Engaging with the music of such an iconic band is not intimidating – rather, it has been spellbinding to grapple with such titans of pop history. It has been invigorating to challenge to interpret these songs. The juxtaposition of heavy metal and ballet – two seemingly disparate cultures – evokes a sense of cultural clash, making the experience of working with such a legacy all the more extraordinary.”