Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival, the Nordic region’s premiere contemporary music festival, descends on New York for its first stateside edition Wednesday April 23rd through Saturday April 26th. In collaboration with ISSUE Project Room, Ultima Festival New York presents a rich program of diverse and challenging contemporary music as well as avant-garde sounds past and present from the Nordic countries. At the heart of the festival is a special focus on lesser-known and under-recognized Scandinavian composers working across and between electronic music and traditional composition. Cornerstones of the series include ambitious stagings of works not yet seen in the US.
Swedish-American composer, philosopher and mathematician Catherine Christer Hennix appears Wednesday, April 23rd alongside her Berlin-based just intonation ensemble Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage in their first-ever US performance to premiere Blues Alif Lam Mim in the mode of Rag Infinity/Rag Cosmosis (1434 A.H.), intended to reveal the blues' origins in the eastern musical traditions of raga and maqam musics. Hennix’ s Rag Infinity/Rag Cosmosis, a multichannel electronic sound installation of infinite duration, originally premiered at ISSUE Project Room in June 2013.
On Friday, April 25th, Henning Christiansen’s performance work Requiem of Art (NYC) Fluxorum Organum receives its first New York presentation, likely the first time one of this artist’s large-scale pieces is realized in New York. One of the central figures of the Danish branch of Fluxus and also of Denmark’s radical art movement Ex School, Christiansen (1932-2008) is highly regarded for his collaborations with Joseph Beuys and for works that trespass conventional boundaries between artistic disciplines. Renowned experimental cellist and artist Anton Lukoszevieze (UK) has developed a new interpretation of this monumental piece— a special commission for Ultima Festival New York— and leads a performance by New York’s superb Ne(x)tworks ensemble.
This new rendition of Christiansen’s work highlights another theme of the festival: fostering intergenerational dialogues across international borders. On Thursday April 24th, Berlin-based Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard will present Faust as well as other works by the pioneering electronic musician Else Marie Pade. Born in 1924, after serving time in a WWII prison camp, Pade cultivated a diverse body of works and became the first composer in Denmark to compose with electronics. Recently she has collaborated with Kirkegaard, bridging an age difference of over 50 years, the duo released a collaborative record in 2013 (Important). The concert also features the acclaimed piano/percussion quartet Yarn/Wire performing works by a younger generation of composers: Øyvind Torvund, Simon Steen-Andersen and a collaborative work by Anna Thorvaldsdottir with artist Sigurdur Gudjonsson.
An afternoon concert Saturday April 26th at the First Unitarian Church in Brooklyn Heights pairs solo piano performances by the young Finnish musician Antti Tolvi and the acclaimed composer/performer Lubomyr Melnyk, architect of the “Continuous Music” method. Both pianists venture far outside the classical tradition, sharing a special emphasis on the instrument’s capacity for extended harmony and overtone, and explorations of non-linear duration.
The festival closes on the evening of Saturday April 26th with attention turned to the composer Arne Nordheim, another pioneer of electronics who stands beside Edvard Grieg as Norway’s most celebrated composer. Nordheim’s Flashing is performed by Frode Haltli, one of the most outstanding accordion soloists in contemporary music, alongside works by Magnar Åm, Aldo Clementi, and Hans Abrahamsen. The evening is headlined by Serena-Maneesh and vocal ensemble— a critically acclaimed Nordic alternative rock outfit synonymous with the composer, singer, musician and producer Emil Nikolaisen. The ensemble gives the US premiere of Somnambulism (2013), a tribute to Arne Nordheim's unusual and fascinating musical spirit.
Full Festival Program:
* Concerts take place at ISSUE Project Room unless otherwise noted.
* Catherine Christer Hennix & Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage
Catherine Christer Hennix: Blues Alif Lam Mim in the mode of Rag Infinity/Rag Cosmosis (1434 A.H.). New York Premiere featuring Imam Ahmed Tüzer, Amir Elsaffan, Amirtha Kidambi and others.
Øyvind Torvund: The Stacks
Simon Steen-Andersen: Rerendered
Anna Thorvaldsdottir/Sigurdur Gudjonsson: Trajectories
* Jacob Kirkegaard
Else Marie Pade: Faust & other electronic pieces
Arne Nordheim: Vevnad, for cello, trombone, and Disklavier.
Shelley Burgon: Conchoidal
Kristin Norderval: Re-Play #4: Name Piece
* Anton Lukoszevieze with Ne(x)tworks
Henning Christiansen: Requiem of Art (NYC) Fluxorum Organum - New York Premiere
Saturday April 26 - 3pm - $15 / $12 ISSUE Members & Students
at The First Unitarian Church, 116 Pierrepont St, Brooklyn Heights
* Antti Tolvi, solo piano
* Lubomyr Melnyk, solo piano
* Frode Haltli, solo accordion
Magnar Åm: On the Banks of the Eternal Second
Aldo Clementi: Ein kleines…
Hans Abrahamsen: Air
Arne Nordheim: Flashing
* Serena-Maneesh & Vocal Ensemble: Somnambulism - New York Premiere
With Emil Nikolaisen, Ådne Meisfjord, Kristian Rangnes, and Brede Rørstad;
Ingrid Pop & Frode Fjerdingstad (visuals).