2011 / 1

This year began with the performance of Atloid 601 at the Fresh Winds Festival in the small town of Garður, SW-Iceland. As other atloids, this is an open form based on certain preorganised patterns, but the instrumentation was inspired by available local forces and instrumentarium: Handbells, quartertone stone-marimba and male chorus. See extract in this video. Turned out as a long, ritual like performance, quite different from other things I have done.

Last autumn saw the performance of Forgotten Step in three places in Iceland and in Copenhagen by the Gáman trio. After hearing their splendid performance I decided to write another piece for this particular instrumentation, but the result still lacks a title. Other performances I have news of are the Helsinki premiere of Flecte Lapis II, due in March, by the Defun ensemble, and the premiere of the clarinet duet born out of Orgoras Speaks, scheduled in Berlin in May, from the reeds of the Zelinsky-Smeyers duo. Accordeonist Andreas Borregaard is about to program Radioflakes in Amsterdam.

At present, besides finishing the clarinet duet, I am working on the first sketches for a short orchestra piece commissioned by the Cottbus orchestra in Germany, and preparing to dive into the theatre project with the Cinnober Theater in Gothemburg. We are hoping to be able to stage it next season, but this is not yet certain.

I was very happy to receive a commission for a piano concerto from Víkingur Heiðar Ólafsson, young Icelandic virtuoso, and that piece will hopefully occupy my desk from late summer.



June 2010

Solo pieces form an important part of my output and I have never considered them secondary products. It is therefore always a happy event when they get performed in new places. This happens regularly with some of them such as Berging for flute or A verso for piano. Last year saw the performance of Cono di fede for contrabass: Havardur Tryggvason, who commissioned it originally, performed it in Vasa, Finland.

A solo for oboe was commissioned by Eydis Franzdottir and premiered by her last March. This time however it was a smaller project: An elaboration of the lively little Blast for trumpet with an additional half, the whole making around six minutes of music. The title of this new piece is Etching. I guess Blast hasn’t been performed that much although I thought it apt as a fanfare. I have heard it played on the saxophone however.

A new piece for flute, clarinet, string trio and piano, Forbidden Mantra, was premiered by the Formalist quartet and Njuton at the Reykjavik Arts Festival on June 5. It was together with Vortex Temporum by Gérard Grisey, and I designed the piano part of my piece so that it could use the same retuned piano as Vortex. It was a great concert and a tour de force of this Californian supergroup.

It was wonderful to hear one of my chorus arrangements sung by the South-Icelandic Chamber Choir last January (Dæm mig guð), and now the North-Icelandic Chamber Choir has other two on the repertoire (Dæm mig guð II and Eg veit). I feel like doing some more folk tunes. I actually have great fun with them and take them quite far away from the original form. My set of four folk-tunes for voice and three instruments remain unperformed as a whole.

Trust Me was perfomed in Seoul by the South-Korean Ensemble TIMF in June. Forgotten Step will be played by the Gaman trio in Iceland in September and then in Copenhagen during the Nordic Music Days, on September 8. Here’s a link to the presentations of the composers prepared by the organisers:

It seems I forgot to give news that my book on harmony was issued by Bjartur editions last autumn. I was very happy to get that done. The title is Hljómamál (“chord language”).

The summer will be dedicated to various leftover tasks, score corrections and such. From the autumn I count on diving into the music-theatre piece to be staged in Gothemburg. After that it seems I will be writing a piano concerto, but more on that later.



June 2009

The new piece for mixed choir, Elsku Borga mín, will be premiered in Skálholt on Thursday July 16 by Hljómeyki vocal ensemble.

I will start a new collaboration with Cinnober Theater in Göteborg this autumn and will give news of that in due time. This will presumably take much of my time next winter.

Staffan Mårtensson will perform Is Anybody There? with the Stuttgart Kammerensemble led by Gudni Emilsson on September 9.  This will be on the opening concert of a chamber music season in Épinal, close to Strasbourg.

As announced, Orgoras Speaks, for two clarinets and six instruments was premiered at the WDR on February 28 with the marvellous Zelinsky-Smeyers duet and the Caput ensemble.  This piece will eventually give rise to two new versions: Quite soon a clarinet duet should be ready and eventually a longer version with orchestra could come about.