Voices that matter

With high-profile events at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and the Bergen International Festival, 2012 looks set to be a busy one for composer and performer Maja S K Ratkje.

2012 sees Maja S K Ratkje featured as Composer in Residence of the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and curator of the Bergen International Festival’s new concert series ‘Voices that Matter’.

November 2012 sees the composer and musician following Bent Sørensen, Rebecca Saunders and Jonathan Harvey into the role as the hcmf// Composer in Residence and will be present in Huddersfield during the festival, which takes place from Friday 16–Sunday 25 Nov, overseeing a programme of her existing works and new hcmf// commissions.

Says Ratkje to Ballade.no: -This is by far 2012’s major event for me.

Ratkje is well into the process of composing works to be premiered at the festival, including a new work to be performed by Cikada. In addition to composing, Ratkje is also set to perform on stage during hcmf//. Says Ratkje: - I’ll perform my Concert for Voice, one of my older works, with the Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Ratkje is featured as soloist in Concerto for Voice and will also perform at hcmf// with improv ensemble SPUNK. Her opera for children, Korall Korall – written for 0-3 year olds – will also see a hcmf// performance.

March 2012 also sees Ratkje touring the UK with Ikue Mori and June sees Ratkje featured as festival composer for the Båstad Chamber Music Festival.

- I’ll always have lots of parallel projects going at any given time, but for the present, hcmf// is my main focus. Huddersfield is a fantastic festival and I’m really looking forward to joining in on the experience. The festival’s management is really genuinely interested in music in a non-speculative way.

Late May sees Ratkje featured on the roster of the Bergen International Festival where she has curated a new concert series titled ‘Voices That Matter’.

Says Ratkje on the concert series:

- Few artists today publicly express an opinion on anything other than subsidy schemes and cultural politics. I want to counteract the prevalent trend that we see far too much of in popular culture of revealing private details and revelling in self-adulation’.

Of all instruments the human voice is the most personal. The sound of a voice is perceived and listened to in a different way from anything else. The recognition factor naturally plays an important role, in that practically all of us hear and have voices ourselves. And we have developed the ability to recognise the sound of a voice before other sounds. Considerable distortion has to take place before we fail to hear a voice as such. We are apparently also capable of determining distance and direction better than with other sounds. This is of course a result of natural development for survival in far more dangerous surroundings. Anyone using the voice as an instrument has experienced the connection to the enormous latent potential within the expression of the voice simply because this is the most important organ used in human communication, and furthermore irrevocably joined with the life-giving breath.

- The series Voices that Matter is an attempt to collect some more relevant voices. Radically different ways of using the voice – physically as well as being 'bearers of a voice' – will be presented in the course of five concerts. From a number of collaborators and colleagues I have selected a broad spectrum of artists who all have something to say.

The use of the voice can by definition never be impersonal. But does this include that one has ‘a voice’? This metaphor, meaning voicing something we believe in, is a far cry from merely expressing a mood or fulfilling a list of criteria for how to sing, or use your skills on instruments or in composition correctly and as expected.

More on ‘Voices that Matter’ HERE.

Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje, composer and performer, finished composition studies at the Norwegian State Academy of Music in Oslo in 2000. Her music is performed worldwide by performers such as Klangforum Wien, Oslo Sinfonietta, The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Fretwork, TM+, Cikada and Vertavo string quartets, Quatuor Renoir, Ticom, crashEnsemble, Pearls for Swine Experience, Torben Snekkestad, Marianne Beate Kielland, SPUNK, Frode Haltli, POING and many more. Portrait concerts with her music has been heard in Toronto and Vienna, she has been composer in residence at festivals like Other Minds in San Francisco, Nordland Music Festival in Bodø and Avanti! Summer Festival in Finland.

Ratkje has received awards such as the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris for composers below 30 years of age, the Norwegian Edvard prize (work of the year) twice, second prize at the Russolo Foundation, and in 2001 she was the first composer ever to receive the Norwegian Arne Nordheim prize. Her solo album «Voice», made in collaboration with Jazzkammer, got a Distinction Award at Prix Ars Electronica in 2003.

Ratkje is active as a singer/voice user and electronics player as well as studio engineer, as a soloist or in groups such as SPUNK or Agrare. Other collaborations are with Jaap Blonk, Joëlle Léandre, Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins, Stian Westerhus, Stephen O’Malley, Lasse Marhaug, POING and the metal band Trinacria. Ratkje has performed her own music for films, dance and theatre, installations, and numerous other projects. She has made music for a radio play by Elfriede Jelinek, and in 2003, she played a leading part in her own opera, based on the texts from the Nag Hammadi Library. In 2005 she performed the voice solo part of her first big work for orchestra, commissioned by Radio France. She has also been soloist with Klangforum Wien and Oslo Sinfonietta.

“Anyone who has seen or heard Ratkje perform live will know what a superb musician she is, and one who can genuinely be said to be extending the expressive range of the voice through technical and technological means…. Her work is celebratory and inclusive, an energising rallying call to those who are curious enough to peek out from behind the curtain of mainstream mediocrity.” The Wire

"Ratkje's vibrant vocal fluctuations can make Bjork sound like an "American Idol" candidate." Washington Post.

Maja Ratkje on Soundcloud

Maja Ratkje on Facebook

Maja Ratkje on Spotify

Share the story on:
                    |     More


New acquisitions from the National Library (sheet music)

MIC-pages is managed by Aslak Oppebøen
Tel: +47 90175338 · aslak@musicnorway.no