Ultima 2009

The 19th edition of Oslo’s Ultima contemporary music festival kicks off on September 9th with a diverse and broad programme that encompasses a wide range of genres and styles. Ultima ’09 features opera and chamber music alongside metal, hip hop and techno in addition to solid doses of humour.

Lars Petter Hagen 09/Foto: Runge Kongsro

    With its new director and artistic leader Lars Petter Hagen at the helm, Oslo’s vibrant contemporary music festival launches a programme filled to the brim with cross-cultural references and new approaches to contemporary music programming.

    Writes the Ultima festival in its recent press release:

    For the 19th time, Ultima will take place 9th-19th September. This year, Ultima moves freely among musical genres. Opera and chamber music or metal, hip hop and techno – all kinds of music that one way or another have a curious, exploring attitude and experiments with its own boundaries.

    Some highlights:

    Sir Harrison Birtwistle
    The Daily Telegraph ranked the distinguished composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle 62nd in a 2008 review on the 100 most powerful people in British culture. This ranks him above names such as Banksy, and Ricky Gervais.
    A common denominator for Birtwistle’s works is a powerful kind crudeness. Meanwhile the music is firmly placed in a classic tradition. A significant part of Birtwistle’s oeuvre, is inspired by myths, especially from ancient times. Birtwistle was knighted in 1988 and received the Order of the Companions of Honour in 2001.
    Ultima will dedicate a number of concerts to Birtwistle.

    Tine Thing Helseth
    The up and coming Norwegian trumpeter, 21-year-old Tine Thing Helseth, will play works by Harrison Birtwistle, Henri Dutilleux og Igor Stravinsky with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.
    · Oslo konserthus, Thurs. 10th September 7.30 pm

    Finishing Grieg
    The British composer Michael Finnissy has completed Edvard Grieg’s piano quintet that was never finished by Grieg himself. Finnissy has both completed the actual quintet and composed a new work based on Grieg’s own writings. Finnissy will himself be piano soloist in Gamle Logen and perform his works with the leading Norwegian ensemble Cikada String Quartet.
    · Gamle Logen, Wed. 16. september kl 20.00

    Genre transcending Deathstep
    The clubbing concept Dausteg (eng. Deathstep) with music journalist Tony Wilson and artist Are Mokkelbost came about when the two joined forces as DJs transcending genres like metal and hip hop. For Ultima, the duo has compiled a concert and DJ set with self-taught electric guitar virtuoso Mick Barr from the U.S:, London duo Mount Kimbie with their melodious hip hop and Norwegian hip hop collective Tri-Function Million.
    · Kulturkirken Jakob, Thurs. 10th September 10 pm

    Celebrating Drumming
    The percussion ensembles Sisu (Norway) and Kroumata (Sweden) are playing Steve Reich’s groundbreaking work Drumming. The techno duo Bygdin, one half of the sensational electro rock band 120 Days, will follow, playing a new work especially written for this concert.
    · Tullinløkka/National Museum for art, architecture and design. Sat. 12th September 2 pm

    Music for the castle
    – This is truly a unique space. These are the words of Benedict Mason, Berlin-based British composer described by The Guardian as «... one of the most original musical minds around today». Mason’s own description is of Akershus castle, to which he will write a special work. This will be the tenth work in his series Music for Concert Halls, where the musical pieces each are dedicated a concert halls or another space where music is performed around Europe.
    · Akershus castle, Saturday 19th September, 8 pm

    A new opera house
    The National Opera has become famous internationally after moving to a new, spectacular building by the waterfront in Bjørvika, Oslo. The singer and composer Trond Reinholdtsen will launch his own, mobile opera house in Folketeaterbygningen, «Den norske opra». – and yes, the «e» is deliberately missing.
    Reinholdtsen’s opera house will follow the Bayreuth Festspielhaus tradition. The Festspielhaus solely stages works from Richard Wagner, hence «Den norske opra» will only stage works composed by Reinholdtsen himself.
    · Stratos, Wed. 9th September, 8 pm

    Ultima in the house of Literature
    Choosing the successful Litteraturhuset (House of Literature) as a concert arena for 2009 is not at random. Relations between text and music are recurrent themes in a number of works and productions during this year’s Ultima.
    Saturday 12th September at 8am sees the German-Belgian-British artist collective Interinterinter taking over two of the floors in Litteraturhuset to guide the audience through an evening with concerts, poetry, live bookbinding and audience quizzes with prizes. Works by Laurence Crane and Helmut Oehring, among others, will be performed.
    Thursday 17th September 5pm, the Norwegian author and translator Ragnar Hovland will give a lecture on this translation of Exercises de style by Raymond Queneuau, a book where the same story is told in 99 different ways stylistically. The trio Textfukkers transforms art theory into catchy pop tunes, the London-based composer John Lely performs his works where text scores(i.e. the music is read through text, not traditional notation) are important and Nicholas Bullen (former bassist in and founding member of Napalm Death) gives a lecture and a concert over the subject rewriting. Finally, the Norwegian trio Poing celebrates its 10 year anniversary with Ragnar Hovland among the guest stars.

    Classical piano concerto by jazz pianist
    With the Grammy Award nominated ensemble Trondheimsolistene behind him, the first piano concerto by jazz pianist Erlend Skomsvoll will have its world premiere during Ultima. The concerto is aptly titled A Composers Diary While Writing His First Piano Concerto. During this show in Kulturkirken Jakob Friday 18th September at 6pm, the annual Arne Nordheim Composer Award will be presented to a significant Norwegian composer.
    · Kulturkirken Jakob, Friday 18th September, 6pm


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