IÅse Hedstrøm (b. 1950) has been actively involved in music organizations since the very start of her career. For example, she was elected president of the nationwide society Ny Musikk as early as 1976, and during her term in office the organization expanded considerably. From 1983-87 she was music coordinator at the Henie- Onstad Art Centre at Høvikodden, outside Oslo, where she initiated an innovative series of concerts and international festivals featuring contemporary music. She has also served on a number of boards and councils, a.o. chairman of the board of the Norwegian Music Information Centre and TONO, the Norwegian performing rights society. During the years 1994-1998 she was the artistic and managing director of ULTIMA Oslo Contemporary Music Festival. From 1999-2001 she was director of Stockholm Concert Hall and Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.
However, Åse Hedstrøm is above all a composer. In addition to a graduate degree from the Norwegian Academy of Music, where she studied with Prof. Finn Mortensen, she has studied electro acoustic music at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht. When she received a three-year working grant from the State in 1987 she could look back upon ten years activities with a large number of performances in Norway and abroad. Two years prior to this she had received the Norwegian Society of Composers' "Work of the Year" award for the chamber music work Right After, while the string quartet Sorti had achieved the same honour in 1989. As a frong character in the Norwegian contemporary music scene she also received a number of different grants.
Hedstrøm has a considerable list of works, where the orchestral pieces Anima (1983), Nenia (1986) and Cantos (1993) Anima was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize in 1986, and Nenia was recommended by the UNESCO Rostrum of composers in Paris in 1988. She has received commissions from a number of national and international institutions, such as the Ultima Festival, Trondehimn Symphony Orchestra, The Norwegian Broadcasting Co, Henie Onstad Art Centre, Stockholm New Music, Musik-Biennale Berlin, BBC, Mirkk Art Forum and Ensemble Recherche. Her music has been performed in most European countries, USA og Japan.
Says the musicologist Geir Johnson: Expressitivity is the hallmark of Åse Helstrøm's music. She has a distinctive personal idiom that does not show the influence of any particular "ism". Åse Hedstrøm’s music also has a strong relation to other artists, such as the expressive painter Eva Hesse, or the poet Henri Michaux. There is an inner pressure in Hedstrøm’s music that creates an organic progress towards an eruptive climax. The complicated rhythmic and musical processes are always under control, but the music bears a message about an inner motive power that finally leads towards a new and clarified insight.