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2009/1

February 2009

The premiere of the new piece for two clarinets and six instruments will by given by the Zelinsky-Smeyers clarinet duo and the Caput Ensemble at the WDR in Cologne on Saturday February 28.  The piece is entitled Orgoras Speaks. The programme also features Trust Me for viola, clarinet and piano.  The concert will be broadcast live.

Now working on a rather big piece for choir (Hljómeyki vocal ensemble of Reykjavík) to be premiered this summer in Skálholt, Southern Iceland, as part of the annual Skálholt Festival where I feature as composer in residence this year.

The flute solo Communion had two almost simultaneous North-American premieres on January 24 and 28.  Mark McGregor played it in Vancouver on the former date and Eric Lamb at Eastern Michigan University on the latter (his New York performance in December had to be cancelled).

The Reykjavík Chamber Ensemble with Rúnar Óskarsson, basset-clarinet, performed Is Anybody There? for clarinet and strings on February 8 as part of the Dark Music Days festival.  Bernhard Wilkinson conducted this wonderful interpretation.

Susanne Kessel gave yet another performance of ...ma la melodia at the Icelandic Embassy in Berlin on  February 18, along with other Icelandic pieces from her CD Iceland.

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2008/1

October 2008

Here we are at last: The website is now "live" and can be updated constantly.  The present look is totally based on the former site, but in the conversion process some graphic problems arise here and there.  Next weeks will be dedicated to correcting and completing the site.

heimasumyndFirst a photo by Horst Schmeck from my visit to the Musikhochschule in Cologne in November 2007.  There was a lecture and a performance of La métrique du cri by the school's new music ensemble (actually two performances on the same concert).

As to performances:

Trio Lurra (Melkorka Ólafsdóttir, flute, Ainhoa Miranda, bass clarinet and Helena Basilova, piano) used two of my Atloids on their programme at the Dark Music Days in Reykjavik in February.
Adapter gave yet another performance of The Blessings of Madness at the same festival.
In April Poing performed Composition at the Tampere Biennale.  
In May, Áshildur Haraldsdóttir, flute, gave the premiere of Donec Vesper II, with the Benda percussion trio.  The occasion was a meeting to honour the memory of Sigfús Daðason, poet, who would have turned eighty in May. 
Trio Gáman from Denmark permiered Forgotten Step in the Faroe Islands on August 27th and gave a couple of other performances of the piece.  They have scheduled the piece a few other times next year.
David Smeyers  conducted the Landes Jugend Ensemble in Object of Terror in Montepulciano and they will be playing it again a few times in the Cologne area this autumn.  He also took part in a performance of Vink II with the Ensemble 20/21  at the WDR in Cologne in June.
Susanne Kessel recorded ...ma la melodia on a cd with all Icelandic piano music entitled Iceland, issued in March.  She has given a number of performances of this piece but I am not so updated as to wheres and whens, except a date in Schlangenbad, Germany, on October 26.10.2008.
Eric Lamb has programmed Berging (Consummation) for solo flute on Nov. 26 in New York.

 The Remix project has proceded: by now we have six remixes ready for publishing.  They were made by Massimiliano Viel and his friends in Otolab, plus two pieces by Daniela Cattivelli with the wonderful voice of Margaret Kammerer.  I guarantee this is a curious little collection of pieces and hope to make them public soon.

 To complete the above set of remixes on cd we might be adding The Juggler's Tent, which has been recorded by Emil Friðfinnsson, horn, and Elísabet Waage, harp.

 Among upcoming projects there is a double-concertino for the Smeyers-Zelinski clarinet duo and ensemble, to be premiered at the WDR at the end of February with the Caput Ensemble.  The concert will include some more of my music.

 A number of other projects are under way – a piece for choir, one for orchestra etc. – but now when I can update at any time it is better to give news when events may be considered confirmed.

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2007/1

May 2007

recently finished projects

I had to postpone some projects to tackle a commission that came up last summer: The stage music for the first Icelandic staging of Euripides' Bacchae at the National Theatre. This proved to be hard work in close collaboration with director Giorgos Zamboulakis, choreographer Erna Omarsdottir and the cast of seven bacchae. The only acoustical instruments were clarinets and other wind instruments, played by the incredibly versatile Gudni Franzson, and percussion, performed by Kjartan Gudnason, both dressed up as satyrs. The soundscape consists of electronic sounds, "voicescapes" and some songs performed by the bacchae. To conserve some of this music in a concert version I made a suite for female voices, clarinet and percussion, 20 minutes long. It will be premiered next season by Vox Feminae in Reykjavik. The music of the Bacchae was nominated for the Icelandic Theatre Prize 2007.

Courtesy of The National Theatre of Iceland / Eddi

Before setting to work on the oboe concertino for Helen Jahren, now underway, I quickly adapted an older trio for the Adapter Ensemble, in the form of a quintet. In brief I took Trust Me for clarinet, viola and piano, and made it into The Blessings of Madness for flute, clarinet, percussion, harp and piano. They premiered it in Berlin on May 17, following up with concerts in Hamburg and Kiel, and finally in Reykjavik on June 10.

A very small work I just had to finish was adding the third song to a set of two previously arranged folk melodies. Somehow I needed this to complete the form which now bears the title Myndir af thremur thjodlogum (pictures of three folk melodies), scored for flute, violin, cello and mezzo-voice. The first two were composed and performed in Bologna about a decade ago. This new version has yet to be premiered.

recent performances
One of the most memorable events of this season was the premiere of Composition, the performance project combining my accordion, double bass and sax solos, in all fifty minutes of music. I had a very theatrical approach to this job. All the time I tried to imagine the three guys on stage and even wrote in some movements they should perform while not playing. Quite experimental for me but I have a feeling the risk payed off, people seemed to enjoy it. My friends in the Poing Trio sure enough did a fantastic job. They premiered it at Ultima in Oslo, and then played it in Reykjavík, Huddersfield and Trondheim, besides occasional performances of the solo pieces separately.

Besides Composition, the Ultima festival in Oslo featured two performances of Suzannah at the Black Box Theatre: The Cinnober Theatre group and Göteborg Kammarsolisterna toured to Oslo and then on to Reykjavík where the National Theatre hosted two evenings on the Workshop Stage.

works in progress
After the work for oboe and ensemble, which should be finished by August, there is a number of projects coming up, among these a radio-drama. I will give news of them in due time.

Since I have been teaching harmony one afternoon a week this winter I got the idea of assembling my notes into a volume on harmony, focusing on Bach-style. I will complete it little by little as I teach next winter. I really could not have imagined this a couple of years ago since I have never seen myself as a theoretic or a pedagogue. But maybe I am after all!