May 2007

recently finished projects

A scene from Bakkynjur in The Natinonal Theater of Iceland.
Courtesy of The National Theatre of Iceland / Eddi

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.

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!