Barrett and Hiorthøy nominated for the Nordic Council’s Music Prize 2006

Composer Natasha Barrett and electronica artist Kim Hiorthøy receive nominations for the prestigious Nordic Council’s Music Prize 2006

Kim Hiorthøy on stage

This week sees Composer Natasha Barrett and electronica artist Kim Hiorthøy receiving nominations for the prestigious Nordic Council’s Music Prize 2006.

The Nordic Council's Music Prize 2006 will be awarded to a composer for a specific work. States the prize committee in a press statement issued this week: “Once again this year we are fascinated by and are full of admiration for the great variation to be found in the compositions manifested in such a relatively limited geographical area.

Among the younger generation of Nordic composers there is a distinct desire to experiment with all musical parameters and, as a natural consequence, with all musical boundaries. There is a multitude of inspirational sources: From Nordic mythology through to the electronic avant-garde, from popular music to a multicultural music culture, and from historical drama to modern allegorical film. The nominated candidates are outstanding representatives of the rich, fertile and innovative musical life which exists in the Nordic countries.”

Below are bios on the nominees as presented by the Nordic Council:

Natasha Barrett

Like most of the nominated composers the Norwegian composer Natasha Barrett works primarily with electro-acoustic music. Natasha Barrett’s interest in electro-acoustic composition began during her studies for a master’s degree in analysis and composition at Birmingham University in the UK.
These studies led to her working with BEAST (Birmingham ElectroAcoustic Sound Theatre), which has greatly influenced her work in exploring opportunities for using a spatial aspect in the communication of sound arrangements.

She was awarded her doctorate in composition in 1998 and in the same year received a grant from the Research Council of Norway which enabled her to work as a resident composer at NoTAM (Norwegian network for Technology, Acoustics and Music). Afterwards she worked as a lecturer in Tromsø, Norway but she is now a freelance composer and teacher, living in Oslo.

Her compositions include works for acoustic instruments and live electronics, sound installations, dance, theatre and animation projects.

Barrett has received commissions from organisations both in Norway and abroad, and has received many awards, including the Prix Arts Electronica (Linz, Austria, 1998) and first prize in the Trivium section of the Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Awards (France 1998).

The work …fetters…, for which she has been nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize 2006, was commissioned for Norsk Riks Kringkastning (Norwegian TV and Radio) in 2002. Barrett describes the work as being inspired by the laws of physics, which portrays the motion of molecules within an enclosure and how these movements change and accelerate with the input of energy until the enclosure (or container) breaks.

The work includes extracts from the poetic Edda in original Old Norse, spoken by Magnus Rindhal, sound recordings from Smithfield Market in London’s East End, and edited recordings of soprano Kristin Norderval. (The work is recorded by Aurora ACD 5037).

Kim Hiorthøy

Kim Hiorthøy originally made a name for himself as a graphic designer in Norway. Before making his debut as a musician in 2000 he had done a number of record covers, illustrated children’s books and was elected graphic designer of the year by Norsk Form.
Meanwhile in recent years he has made a strong mark as an innovative musician in the electronic genre, so much so that his first CD has now produced a nomination for the Nordic Council Music Prize.

Since the release of the nominated work, the CD Hei, Hiorthøy has released several remarkable CDs which together demonstrate an innovative electronic artist at the height of his powers.

Hei already shows a number of traits which bear Hiorthøy’s mark: The simple, bordering on naïve, the everyday, the documentary tinged with nostalgia, all processed electronically.
On many of the cuts Hiorthøy has collected snatches, where he plays a number of often simple instruments himself. The level of technique is extremely restrained, but picked and configured in the right way - and sometimes with the addition of complex programmed rhythm tracks – conjuring up fragments of a very special atmosphere, sometimes of something mystical and full of presentiment and other times of mournful longing. In this context it is also of some significance that Hiorthøy is not only clever at using the opportunities offered by electronics, he is also able to compose small catchy tunes which attract the listener's attention just as the body is caught by the traces of rhythm.

Hiorthøy also uses field recordings and documentary sound recordings, which are split up and re-worked, which gives them a completely different semiotic meaning.

As a writer has put it, Hiorthøy’s music is so interesting because it ‘explores the distance between hi-fi and lo-fi, documentation and staging, naivety and constructiveness’.

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