2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Ultima Contemporary Music Festival, and this year the festival will run from 10 to 19 September – so mark off those dates in your diary now!
Our opening concert will be performed by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of chief conductor Vasily Petrenko in Oslo Concert Hall on Thursday 10 September.
More details on the concert programme will be announced shortly.
We hope you will come and join us in celebrating Ultima’s 25th anniversary!
The theme for this year’s Ultima is “On Nature”.
Music – both how it originates and how we understand it – is closely connected to science. Ever since the Stone Age, physics, psychology, astronomy and biology have inspired people to create music – and they continue to do so today. Whether it be technological advances that enable us to explore acoustic principles, psychoacoustic research, the overwhelming outer space, theories about the place and role of mankind in the cosmos, or simply the sight of a majestic elk against a beautiful sunset; mankind’s encounters with nature provide a basis for reflection and wonder – and a place where art plays a vital role.
Ultima 2015 will offer a varied and comprehensive programme. We will be publishing newsletters giving programme updates throughout the spring on www.ultima.no and in social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Underskog) – so follow us!
The final programme will be announced in June.
Tickets sales will start in the spring. This year’s Ultima is offering an Early Bird Deal to those who want to make sure they book their tickets in good time. Until 1 July, all tickets can be bought at student rates (that’s half of regular ticket prices)! Tickets will go on sale at the same time as our programme updates are published.
will be arranged in Oslo from 10 – 19 September.
Hope to see you there!
Philosopher Alain Badiou’s planned visit to Oslo and Ultima Academy on 30-31 January 2015 has unfortunately been cancelled due to family concerns.
We apologize any inconvenience this might cause.
A big warm THANK YOU to all the musicians, composers, artists, guests, collaborators, staff and audience for helping us make Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival 2014 such a wonderful experience! See you next year!
Photo credit: Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival / Henrik Beck
Norwegian music history follows the development of Norway as a nation. In his book Med spark i gulvet og quinter i bassen, Harald Herresthal describes how music was used as a national and political tool in the years between 1770 and 1870. Music, art, and language were key elements in the discussion about how Norway could distinguish itself as an independent nation.
Since then, being a composer in Norway has also meant taking a position on the meaning of ‘Norwegian’. Discussions about national versus international and about tradition versus modernity were highly relevant in the years after World War II, and although this may at first seem as out dated as local issues, I would argue to the contrary: a universal issue that touches the core of making music and of being an artist today is an attempt to understand who we are. It’s far from being a distinctly Norwegian project.
According to the African Ubuntu philosophy, ‘You are who you are because of others.’ Music is strengthened through its dependency on its environment. This perspective is the starting point for the theme of this year’s Ultima. Reflections on identity, the function of music in a digitised, globalised, and individualised world; reflections on tradition and modernity, on borders and infinity. The Ultima Festival is a forum for ideas in music across disciplinary boundaries. We are a meeting place, an arena for dialogue. Through our subsidiary programme Ultima Academy, we highlight the ideas behind the music, and this year Antonio Negri, Laibach and Alain Badiou among others will discuss topics such as power, ideology, and cultural identity and how they are related to artistic practice.
We are delighted to be hosting Nordic Music Days in cooperation with the Norwegian Society of Composers. Nordic Music Days has been organised through cooperation be- tween Nordic composers since 1888, and is one of the world’s oldest music festivals. At the very first festival, which took place in Copenhagen, Johan Svendsen conducted a work by Edvard Grieg — with the composer himself in the audience. Eighty years after the festival was arranged for the first time, we are grateful that we, together with the Norwegian Society of Composers, can once again make Oslo a focal point of what is currently a truly exciting Nordic contemporary music scene.
On the opening day, the Norwegian Academy of Music will launch its essay collection Musikk etter 22. juli (Music after 22 July). As the editors write, it is a book ‘about powerful experiences related to music — experiences that move us and nourish us, that unite or perturb us. It’s about music as a form of survival, in some cases quite literally: of young people fleeing from Utøya, singing together to find the strength to keep on swimming; it’s about acting through music as part of individual and collective efforts to deal with the grief and to move on; it’s about acknowledgement, faith in the future, and about existential dimensions of the interaction between music and human beings; it’s about how music conveys the values and ideals of society, but also about the place of music within the destructive ideological ideas that formed the basis for the attacks that took place on that dark Friday in Norway’s history.’ The launch will be followed by a performance in Oslo Cathedral of Luciano Berio’s Coro, a work in which forty individual voices and instruments fuse together a work inspired by folk music and text fragments from around the world.
A serious backdrop for this year’s Ultima Festival, because that’s how important music is.
Luciano Berio Coro, Laibach Olav Tryggvason, Mauricio Kagel Exotica, Scelsi Revisited, Schumann/Friedl/Schütz Dichterliebe, Karin Krog, Ben Frost A U R O R A live, TCF, Ultima’s Children’s Day, Avanti! Ensemblet ++
New work by Verdensteatret, Jenny Hval & Susanna, David Brynjar Franzson, Simon Steen-Andersen, Eivind Buene, Arve Henriksen & Eirik Raude, Maja S. K. Ratkje ++
Ultima Academy: Talks with Laibach, Antonio Negri, Alain Badiou, Esteban Buch ++
DR UnderholdningsOrkestret, Denmark’s beloved equivalent to Norway’s KORK (Norwegian Radio Orchestra), is coming to Ultima on the festival’s last day 20 September where they will perform amongst other works Eivind Buene’s new work Blue Mountain. Tickets available now.
Eivind Buene has been interviewed for the new programme book which is available from this Friday.
The Magic Mountain
Eivind Buene’s Blue Mountain dramatizes the musical significance of fragmented memories.
By Audun Vinger
Many artists today seek to cross the borders between art genres, though few manage it as elegantly as composer Eivind Buene. His orchestral works, ideas, and commissioned works all display a distinct musical intuition, whether it be contemporary, orchestral or pop.
He recently added ‘writer’ to his already extensive list of talents, thanks to the well-received novels Enmannsorkester and Allsang and the collection of essays, Dobbeltliv, published earlier this year, which makes a closer study of the crossing paths between music and literature. Where the one begins and the other ends is no longer easy to see; nor is it important. He problematises the significance of music in lyrics, though he does the same when composing music. After Blue Mountain, which premieres in the Great Hall, University of Oslo on the final day of this year’s Ultima, he can now add ‘playwright’ to his resumé. This work seems to be a continuation of the explorative aspect of his texts. Questions about the significance of memory when experiencing music, the death motifs that seem so alive for us, the idea of the orchestra performing bygone music, Marcel Proust, Mahler, Tor Ulven …
How did this come about? Is it an old idea you rediscovered and decided to develop?
— No, not at all. Quite the opposite, actually. The festival asked if I would like to compose a work for which I wrote both lyrics and music. And I did. That method is quite common for songwriters, but contemporary composers rarely write their own lyrics. In the old days, it was quite common. For example, Wagner wrote his own librettos. The preference today is for canonised and ‘patinated’ lyrics, particularly in opera. I thinks that’s a rather defensive attitude to take. Then of course I discovered how incredibly difficult it is to juggle between lyrics and music. When I immerse myself in the lyrics, the music fades to the back of my consciousness, and vice versa. Both elements have an inherent desire to comply with their own natural laws, if you get what I mean. But when lyrics and music are to work in unison on stage, they have to balance. We’re used to dealing with this balance in the song format. But I soon decided that I wanted a dialogue and that it should not be sung. This gave rise to other problems and, well, I had to try and learn a whole new way of thinking.
“A concert is a bit like being in a haunted house: all that dead music coming alive.” is a line from the work. Are you mostly interested in memories and artistic events from bygone days?
— Keep in mind that it’s the character in the piece that says it, not me. And memories constitute the elements on which a lot of art, whether it be music, literature or film, is based. But I often find that old music living a life of its own on the sheet music shelves can suddenly seem to come to life in the concert ritual. Music that was dead yesterday can come to life tomorrow. And I think that orchestras have their own memories, their own experiences, and that entering into a dialogue with them can produce good results when one is writing new music. Naturally, there is a danger of appearing sealed off, like a universe that is open only to the initiated, but an orchestra is also like a massive sensuality machine, with an abundance of colours and textures. You must always try to harness that energy and avoid composing your way into a musical mausoleum.
The music in the work is mainly based on fragments of the past greatness of others …
— Well … I would say that I have composed a new work which only I could have written, because the quotations and fragments that flow out in the form of text and music originate in my personal reservoir of memories. And it is the pressure of this flow of memories that has given rise to the new music and to the way in which I combined the memory material. It must be said that long sections of the music are also brand new compositions, and frictions clearly arise between the old and the new when listeners suddenly hear fragments of music they recognize without quite knowing why. But when I compose, I derive as much pleasure from making up surprising combinations of textual and musical events as from writing hundreds of bars of completely new music. Assigning new meanings to old music by creating an interesting context is also part of the composition process.
You call it a radio play; how do you characterise that genre?
— By radio play, I mean a radio genre, a play for the ears. When combined with the genre ‘orchestral concert’, something which — hopefully — transcends the radio theatre format evolves by assigning the music a much stronger function. The music should not just serve as background sounds for the text; it must also carry part of the narrative development. And hearing a radio play unfold live on stage makes a big difference. I’ve been very conscious of basing Blue Mountain on the situation in which we as musicians, actors and listeners find ourselves: we are attending an orchestral concert, and that is the setting for the story being told. That’s why I used the term ‘orchestral radio play’, as it points beyond the traditional radio play. We haven’t seen much of this in Norway, but Germany has a long tradition in creating musically ambitious radio plays. For example, Nobel laureate Elfriede Jelinek and composer Olga Neuwirth wrote a radio play for German radio.
Andrea Bræin Hovig and Mattis Herman Nyquist, two of Norway’s foremost young actors, are taking part in this production. What’s so special about them?
— I was looking for someone with specific musical qualities, actors who could become part of the orchestra’s time flow. I already knew Mattis Herman, and I knew that he was good. In fact, we’ve even sung together on a few occasions, in a very low-threshold male quartet! Fortunately, he had time to squeeze in this project between performances of Peer Gynt at the National Theatre. I found Andrea after doing some research in actors’ circles, and I realised that she was a real find already at the first reading audition. She is highly responsive to and enthusiastic about this approach to interaction between stage, text, and music.
Could you say a few words about the orchestra and the conductor performing Blue Mountain?
— I hadn’t heard of the orchestra before, it’s one of the Danish Radio orchestras. Meeting a new orchestra is always associated with a mixture of dread and anticipation: it’s like meeting an organism with thirty, fifty or a hundred heads that can eat you alive if you don’t get it right. The conductor takes care of the practicalities; the composer should preferably sit in the auditorium and listen, then have close dialogue with the conductor and let him or her take care of the dialogue with the musicians. In this instance, we have a conductor with whom I have already collaborated on several occasions. Baldur Brönnimann has that rare ability to be both extremely alert and relaxed at the same time. And he possesses an intuitive understanding of what I’m trying to achieve with an orchestra. Composers often have no say in the choice of conductor; they just have to cross their fingers and hope for the best. When I heard that Baldur would conduct Blue Mountain, it was a huge relief. It meant I had one thing less to worry about in what is a rather complex project.
Will Blue Mountain and this method be a one-off event?
— I hope not. I hope that other orchestras will see this format as something which their audiences might enjoy. But it is in the nature of new music that a first performance may be the last, especially when one is trying to find new ways of staging an orchestra. Working with actors who must interweave with the orchestra rather than just talk alongside it requires other working methods than those used when working on a traditional orchestral concert. But I like the idea of working experimentally in the sense of testing a hypothesis and not being able to predict the outcome. That’s the essence of trying again, failing again, and failing better, as Beckett once put it.
Ultima Remake 2014: Coro
Remake is Ultima’s secondary schools outreach project. Remake presents a piece of music considered a ‘contemporary classic’, and through a mixture of careful listening, reflection and creative analysis, explores how the social, political and artistic context in which the work was composed relates to students’ own present day experience and their artistic understanding.
This year’s Remake work is Luciano Berio’s Coro (featured in Ultima’s opening concert on 10 September). Inspired by Berio’s folk music collage, participants will develop their own sample/folk music based installation, which will be presented alongside the launch of a specially designed app for field recording, Remake Recorder, and Remake’s online sound map.
Participants: Students from the music department of Manglerud Secondary School (MU2A/2B). With: Daniel Teige (sound scenography)/Heloisa Amaral (music)/Petr Svarovsky (app development)/Magnus Bugge (production)/Kristian Skaarbrevik and Otto Graf (composition teachers, Manglerud VGS.)
Supported by Sparebankstiftelsen DNB.
Ultima’s Children’s Day at The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet will be jam-packed with concerts, installations, workshops and lots of other fun activities: Lar Vaular rapping to the sound of trees, the Improvisation trio Parallax, POING giving a ‘poop performance’, the sound of a guy bored to tears on a chair, a self-playing chest of drawers, and a self-playing orchestra, ‘on-site choreography’ with Panta Rei Dance Theatre, a children’s workshop in creating graphic scores and lots more!
Hosted by Berit Nermoen with Knotten Løvekylling (creator of Fantorangen) and Aslag Guttormsgaard (NRK Super, Black Debbath, Duplex).
TRE & Lars Vaular
Hip hop meets nature in new music that you’ll want to dance to when rapper Lars Vaular accompanied by the sound of trees. The instruments, played by Bjarne Kvinnsland, Eirik Raude and Markus Hernes, have been carved out of centuries-old basswood felled in Eidsvoll in conjunction with the Norwegian Constitution bicentenary celebrations. Maybe you’ll even get the chance to play them yourself?
Parallax and the room of sounds
Let yourself be wrapped in sound and light in the room of sounds! Improvisation trio Parallax (Are Lothe Kolbeinsen on guitar, Stian Omenås on trumpet and Ulrik Ibsen Thorsrud on percussion) and light designer Evelina Dembacke make music and visual expressions in a performance that will sharpen your senses.
What does it sound like when a guy is bored to tears on a chair? What does it sound like when a fly gets stuck on fly paper or when an old lady must fight her way through a big crowd? And can it be sung? This internationally acclaimed vocal ensemble’s repertoire ranges from medieval to contemporary music, combining song with humour and theatrical performance.
POING with Julian Skar and Guri Glans
POING (Frode Haltli on accordion, Rolf Erik Nystrøm on saxophone and Håkon Thelin on contrabass) is a group that combines instrumental mastery with a fearless approach to music. On Ultima’s Children’s Day, the trio will perform something they call a ‘poop-performance’, developed in collaboration with composer Julian Skar. With actress Guri Glans.
Duo Skrap has been playing together for six years and consists of Heida Karine Johannesdottir Mobeck on tuba and effects and Anja Lauvdal on Korg MS10. Together they work with sound experiments.
Everybody’s a composer
Everybody’s a composer (Nasjonalmuseet, Apparatjik & Audiokolor) is an open room into which you can enter. Motion sensors in the room transform the public’s movements into music. What does it sound like when one person moves in the room? Does it sound different when more people move? Is it possible to choreograph the movements and in doing so compose a piece of music?
Peter Baden – Dirigentstasjon
Ultima has commissioned interactive sound installations by drummer and sound artist Peter Baden (known from Rhythms from Space, among others). Sound, film and conducting. Exactly what it is remains to be seen, but it will be exciting!
What happens when chess pieces make music? What does checkmate sound like? NOTAM’s interactive chessboard provides the answer.
AJNA – Jens Peterson Berger
A chest of drawers by Jens Peterson Berger plays all by itself! It hides a number of secrets that will give you a good laugh.
Al Khowarizmi’s Mechanical Orchestra –Christian Blom
A self-playing orchestra: the orchestra plays random music when a computer connected to small motors calculates the occurrence and balance of the orchestra’s instruments.
Thunder and lightning with Drivhuset
A practical music and imagery workshop on how what we see and what we hear are related: images are turned into music! Under the direction of Isak Anderssen and students from the Norwegian Academy of Music, participants will design their own graphic scores and then perform them. The scores are created in the workshop will be interpreted and performed by artists on Ultima’s Children’s Day. Suitable for children, for adults, and for adults together with children. Bring mum along and compose something!
Make your own dance with Panta Rei Danseteater and Intuitive People
Panta Rei Dance Theatre creates ‘on-site choreographies’ for playful people of all ages. The music accompanying the choreographies is created in real time by Intuitive People (students from NMH), in parallel with the participants’ suggestions for movements. Suitable for children, for adults, and for adults together with children. Bring dad along and get dancing!
Ultima’s Children’s Day will be rounded off with a viewing of Vårt visuelle verk (Our visual works), the Norwegian National Opera Orchestra’s concert workshop with a focus on music note pictures and pictures as notes. Pupils from cultural arts schools interacting with musicians from the Norwegian National Opera Orchestra, opera singer Hege Høisæter, visual artist Helle Kaarem, composer Ole Henrik Moe and workshop manager Jon Halvor Bjørnseth will be finding out if it’s possible play and compose music using symbols other than normal notes. They work together to invent new symbols, new sounds, and new pictures for the concert to be held on Sunday at 15.00 in Hall 2 of the Opera House. During this project we will see examples of other composers who have mixed images and notes together in exciting ways to make graphic scores. Hege Høisæther will sing Stripsody by Cathy Berberian.
Rooms for concerts, rooms for work, and nooks and crannies both inside and outside will be filled to the brim with exciting concerts, installations, and drop-in workshops for children and adults of all ages. 11 am – 4 pm. Free.
In cooperation with the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet.
Supported by Sparebankstiftelsen DNB.
Ultima is the premiere contemporary music festival in the Nordic region. The festival became a designated “knutepunkt” (cultural hub) in 2006 and is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs and Oslo City Council. Ultima is a foundation with 17 members, all of them professional cultural institutions or organisations.
The festival takes place during September and is staged at venues all around Oslo. Our events are staged both in large, established venues such as the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, Oslo Concert Hall and the University of Oslo’s Great Hall as well as in small clubs, shop premises, industrial premises, museums, schools and outdoors.
The Ultima Festival aims to promote artistic distinctiveness, trends and innovation and to make music of a high artistic standard accessible by everyone.
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon is the patron of Ultima.
The Ultima Foundation has a council comprising 17 members. Their efforts and contributions make it possible to arrange Ultima and to make it such a successful festival of contemporary music year after year.
The upcoming festival happens 10–19 September 2015.
LARS PETTER HAGEN
M +47 90 60 66 81
TRUDE DOMBESTEIN ELDE
M +47 97 58 43 21
Head of Information
M +47 93 00 93 42
Educational Projects Coordinator
M +47 45 66 78 73
M +47 46 42 55 07
Ultima’s board of directors in 2015:
Odd Gullberg, Chairman of the Board
Henrik Hellstenius, Vice chairman
Svanhild Sørensen, Member
Janne Stang Dahl, Member
Audun Hasti, Member
Svein Ingvoll Pedersen, Substitute
Marianne Beate Kielland, Substitute
Bente Leiknes Thorsen, Substitute
|Visit:||Ultima, Skippergata 22, N-0154 Oslo|
|Post:||c/o Sentralen, Postboks 183 Sentrum, 0102 Oslo, Norway|
Buy your tickets to concerts at www.billettservice.no
Ordered tickets can be picked up at the post office, ‘Post i butikk’, Narvesen, and 7Eleven.
Single tickets: Please view information about each specific performance.
Full price and discounts (students, elderly, unemployment etc.) is available.
NB! Sold out! Book early, as we expect performances to be sold out. To make sure you get a seat using punch tickets, please arrive ahead of time before the performance begins.
We need talented, enthusiastic volunteers to help with production, marketing, tickets sales, assisting at the venues and other odd jobs before and during the festival. Are you interested in being a volunteer?
Are you interested in hearing more about sponsoring opportunities? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to make an artistic contribution to Ultima, submit your programme ideas to email@example.com. We usually receive a large number of program ideas, so please bear with us if it takes time before you receive a reply.
Ultima is supported by: