Contemporary Music – FAR NORTH Wed, 26 Apr 2017 09:05:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 DIE ZEIT: “As Surreal as the Northern Lights” Tue, 15 Sep 2015 17:42:18 +0000 The German weekly newspaper´s Die Zeit did a great feature about Anna Thorvaldsdottir, her music, the development of the opera UR_ and Far North.

Read the full feature by journalist Julia Spinola

UR_ at ULTIMA /NORWEGIAN NATIONAL OPERA Sat, 12 Sep 2015 08:43:26 +0000 UR_ will be performed on the 18th and 19th of Septmeber  at the Norwegian National Opera’s Stage 2 as part of the 2015 Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival.

UR_ in Ultima’s program 

UR_ at the Norwegian National Opera


Anna Thorvaldsdóttir UR_ (WP)

Chamber opera in one act & VII parts

Narrative by Anna Thorvaldsdóttir

Words and phonetic textures by Anna Thorvaldsdóttir

Title and additional text by Mette Karlsvik

World première in collaboration with Teatrier, Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival, Bit20 Ensemble Bergen, The National Theatre of Greenland.

UR_0096 copy_Vincenzo_Laera

photo credit: Vincenzo Laera

“In UR_, we follow the struggle of an abstract metaphorical persona – portrayed by the three singers – to find its way back to nature, characterized by the struggle of each to find a voice through the exploration of nonsensical phonetic textures and a hybrid combination of multiple languages. Communicating through expressive phonetic gestures allows that which does not have a language to express itself, to be understood and appreciated. Without this, the UR_ is truly voiceless.”

-Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Composer

UR_0328 copy_Vincenzo_Laera

”In staging UR_ I wanted to undertake a journey into the core of what Opera is. To ask the fundamental questions about the artistic process behind staging an opera and reflect this very process in the staging.

Working with a first production of a new work offers a wonderful opportunity to re-examine what the artform is and what it could be. Since UR_ is, with all its abstractions and ambivalence, a dialectic retelling of a Genesis story I wanted to mirror that with the Opera form as its backdrop. This production is the result of a process where you are confronted with the most fundamental questions about how to stage music theatre. In UR_ Anna Thorvaldsdottir presented us with such a rich and multilayered material, combining conceptual thought and deeply sensual music within a meticulously crafted structure, that we were bound to abandon our presuppositions and embark on this very trying but a deeply satisfying artistic journey!“

-Thorleifur Örn Arnarsson, Director

UR_0233_1 copy_Vincenzo_Laera

”In the process of staging UR_ I allowed and obliged myself to find visual solutions that came out of the process as a complete necessity. Rejecting anything else. This led us on the path to an intrinsic, internal, self referential, metaphoric and poetic world of scenetic images which flow by like dreams that fall into one another, separate yet interconnected.

We searched for the elemental, the core of the process of this particular staging, which in essence is the search for the core of oneself.

A visual world of darkness, dreams and the coming of light is nurtured in the world of UR_, where even the stage itself is lit through light feeding of itself through camera projection“

–Anna Rún Tryggvadóttir, Visual Artist/Scenographer

UR_ – In Pursuit of the Future in Origins


In the beginning was not the word, but darkness, and light brought death and deliverance. At least that’s what Greenland’s mythology has us believe. It shares the notion of an undivided unity with the bible, and they both propose that the world was created through its loss.

Two main narratives of metaphorical personae run in opposite directions through Anna Thorvaldsdóttir opera: one follows the path of mans struggle to find a way back to the Ur_ (starting point), the other traces the development of how we humans have become so far removed from our “original state“.

The composer spins an ambivalent grand narrative in sound, drawing on the thematic of an evolutionary genesis in seven parts. Longing and searching, with a fundamental feeling of loss generates a vacuum in time and space that invites the observer to embark on reflective journey. Moaning, whispering, stuttering, those are stages on the exploratory route towards finding an individual voice of expression, comprehension and communication.

Meditative sensual melodic lines interwoven with, strained, fragile brokenness come together in a passion that is driven forward by yearning, a feeling of being overwhelmed, the craving for truth and a flickering hope of restoring equilibrium.


Thorvaldsdóttir’s music for UR_ is born out of humanity’s desperate quest for identity and self-assurance, of asking for a perspective on the future. Thorleifur Örn Arnarsson takes the metaphor of a relentlessly searching mankind quite literally. He lets the sensual-abstract imagery of the music and narrative guide the performers toward an organic flowing symbiosis of the senses. He furthermore uses the occasion of a new opera première to pose questions not just about man’s true identity, but also that of the opera genre itself.


The Sounds of Anna Thorvaldsdóttir’s UR_

UR_ is her first opera. Thorvaldsdóttir’s music seems to depict a tonal world in flux, imbued by a mysterious, lyrical mood. Her highly sensitive auditive and tonal imagination unveils the existence of the abundant noises and harmonies that constantly surround us. Her music is a reflection on the landscapes and nature in the world she lives in, yet it’s neither an imitation nor an illustration. She develops a form of tone-language-philosophy in UR_, which is an attempt to analyse the word and its substance as well as the matter of comprehension and communication through tonality, all the while asking whether there may be alternative ways to accomplish the task.

VIDEO: FAR NORTH DISKOTEK SESSIONS APRIL 2015 Sun, 10 May 2015 16:56:35 +0000

Far North | Diskotek Sessions for Contemporary Music, Theatre, and Performance – ICE in Greenland from ICE on Vimeo.

Video: Ross Karre


DISKOTEK SESSIONS 2015 Thu, 12 Feb 2015 12:36:25 +0000 diskotek-01.FINAL

MATTHEW BARNEY and JONATHAN BEPLER: ‘RIVER OF FUNDAMENT’ Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:52:14 +0000 We are thrilled to announce that during the coming DISKOTEK in Oqaatsut/Ilulissat we are presenting the monumental film River of Fundament.

River of Fundament - Hugo GlendinningRIVER OF FUNDAMENT

a film by Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler

A radical reinvention of Norman Mailer’s novel Ancient Evenings, this epic film is the latest work by world renowned art visionary Matthew Barney in collaboration with composer Jonathan Bepler. Barney and Bepler fuse narrative cinema, live performance, sculpture and opera, reconstructing Mailer’s hypersexual story of Egyptian gods and the seven stages of death alongside the rise and fall of the American car industry.

The film’s central scene is an abstraction of Mailer’s wake, set in a replica of the late author’s apartment in Brooklyn Heights and featuring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Paul Giamatti, Elaine Stritch, Ellen Burstyn, Joan La Barbara, and jazz percussionist Milford Graves. Alluring, authentic and intense, this vast multidimensional experience is interspersed with remarkable live performances filmed over six years.

Written and directed by Matthew Barney
Music Composed and directed by Jonathan Bepler
Produced by Matthew Barney and Laurenz Foundation

River of Fundament is presented worldwide on behalf of the artists by Manchester International Festival.

Photo: Hugo Glendinning


DISKOTEK July 28th – August 5th 2014 Sun, 20 Jul 2014 13:19:45 +0000  









Merki_Nafn_Enska_V_SVART         header_logo






ICE & SOUND Sun, 06 Jul 2014 11:52:05 +0000 2014-06-23 17.29.37

We explored some out door acoustic spaces for the upcoming DIKSOTEK sessions.

Laszlo Kuti, principal solo klarinettist of the Munich Philharmonic played a duet with the ice, which responded with gentle cracking and occasional distant drones. The great ice is truly a dynamic natural theatrical spectacle in itself!


Alvin Lucier’s ‘Chambers’ in boats in the middle of the Disko Bay perhaps? Stay tuned for what ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) will be up to in the coming DISKOTEK sessions.

2014-06-26 09.23.47

The unpredictable Karl Sibelius in the DISKOTEK Fri, 04 Jul 2014 16:07:26 +0000 karl-m-sibelius_280_rupert-rieger

The unorthodox Austrian theater man Karl Sibelius will be shaking things up in the DISKOTEK this summer. If the ice bergs can stand the heat he might bring his fiery alter ego Rose Divine along for the journey.

Karl Sibelius is a director, actor, theater teacher, singer, and since 2012/13, also director of the Theater an der Rott in Eggenfelden, Bavaria.

Sibelius managed to dramatically transform the artistic profile of Theatre an der Rott and after only the first season he was awarded the Jury Prize of the Bavarian Theatre Festival for his work with the theater. The big spirited little theatre in Eggenfeld was also the surprise winner of the German Stage Journal’s (Die Deutsche Bühne) critics prize in the category “Most noteworthy Theater Beyond the Centers.” After this success Sibelius will from 2015/16 move on to assume the position of General Director at the State Theater of Trier.

The Austrian Karl M. Sibelius already has a long career in the theatre under his belt. He took his initial steps as an actor at the National Theatre in Vienna and at the Theater an der Wien. He also completed vocal studies at the Vienna Conservatory. With major roles such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the title role in Bertolt Brecht’s The Good Person of Szechwan, he was a long time favorite at the State Theatre in Linz, where he was an ensemble member for many years. Guest engagements brought him to stages all over Europe. Sibelius also work as a stage director spans everything from theatre, musical theater, operetta to opera. Among his noteworthy opera productions are Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fidelio at the Opera Klosterneuburg. Sibelius directed the 100.000 people opening ceremony for the Linz09 Cultural Capital of Europe. Sibelius is also an active playwright and a lecturer in drama at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg.

For his social and scientific commitment, as well as his artistic work, he has received several awards. He is a graduate of the prestigious arts administration institute (EMAA) of the University of Zürich.

New Music in Nuuk Thu, 19 Jun 2014 23:00:10 +0000 Foto 1

It was a special moment in Greenlandic music history when composer Arnannguaq Gerstrøm presented her work to a full auditorium at the Katuaq Culture Center in Nuuk. The new compositions were performed by the ad hoc Ensemble Erinniat with musicians from amongst other the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Danish Orchestra, conducted by Sven Skipper. In the first part of the concert legendary danish actress Githa Nørby gave an intense reading of fairy tales by H.C. Andersen.

Arnannguaq’s new composition are inspired by the country’s nature and culture. In several of the pieces Arnannguaq makes use of  the Greenlandic drum, ‘Qilaat’ and bass drum to represent “an echo of the ice”.

A fragment from a larger installation piece, ‘Sermersuaq’, done in collaboration with photographer Helle Nørregaard combines visuals and music compositions. The entire work is planned to be ready in 2016. In connection with this work, Helle and Arnannguaq slept four nights on the Great Greenland Ice Cap, safeguarded by local hunters and dog sledge drivers from Isortoq in East Greenland.

Foto 2 Foto 3 Foto 4


Eivind Buene in the DISKOTEK Wed, 18 Jun 2014 13:00:12 +0000 Evind Buene Foto: Ellen Lande Gossner

EIVIND BUENE studied pedagogics and composition at the Norwegian State Academy of Music from 1992 to 1998, and in 1999 and 2000 he was composer in residence with the Oslo Sinfonietta. Since 2000 he has been a freelance composer living and working in Oslo, writing for a wide array of ensembles and orchestras. He has recieved commissions from among others Ensemble Intercontemporain, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Fondation Royaumont and a variety of Scandinavian orchestras and ensembles.

Apart from writing music for soloists, ensembles and orchestras, Buene also frequently engages in collaborations with improvising musicians, developing music in the cross-section between classical notation and improvisation.

Buene’s music has been performed at prestigous venues like Carnegie Hall, Berlin Philharmonie and Centre Pompidou. His debut as a stage composer came in august 2006 with the one act chamber opera September, based on Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler. Buene is currently working on an opera for the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo, together with writers Jon Øystein Flink and Rasmus Munch.

In addition to music, Buene has written music critique and essays, and he made his literary debut with the novel Enmannsorkester in 2010. His second novel was released in October 2012, and a collection of essays was published in March 2014.