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11 composers compete for the Nordic Council's Music Prize 2012

The Adjudication Committee for the Nordic Council's Music Prize has this year chosen to nominate 11 composers for the great Nordic prize.

15.03.2012
Photographer
Magnus Fröderberg/norden.org

The theme for this year's Music Prize is described thus:

"The prize is awarded to a work by a living composer. There are no limitations on the style of music but it is a stipulation that the work should meet high artistic standards and be regarded as innovative within its genre".

The nominations for 2012 are:

Denmark

Illustrationer I-IV  / Else Marie Pade
Else Marie Pade (1924) was amongst the first pioneers in the world to work seriously with concrete music and electronic music. In the 1950s and 1960s she realised, in close collaboration with technicians from Danmarks Radio (the Danish Broadcasting Corporation), a considerable number of ground-breaking works. Her works "En dag på Dyrehavsbakken" and "Syv Cirkler" are the first piece of concrete music and the first piece of electronic music respectively created on Danish soil. In recent decades Pade's works have become the subject of intense attention amongst musicians and composers, and she has been, for example, honoured with a lifelong artistic grant from the Danish Agency for Culture.

4 Rooms  / Jacob Kirkegaard
Inspired by concrete music, Jacob Kirkegaard (1975) creates his own remarkable works using real sound recordings. Using unorthodox methods and recording equipment, he captures rare and as yet unknown sounds and tones from a wealth of surprising places in the world, for example, a geyser, the northern lights, singing sand in the Oman desert, a nuclear power plant, and even sounds from the human inner ear. In his work 4 Rooms Kirkegaard unfolds the sound from four deserted rooms in the radioactive exclusion zone in Chernobyl, Ukraine; a swimming pool, a church, an auditorium and a gymnasium. Rooms which were earlier full of human activity and life but were abruptly abandoned because of the disaster in 1986.

Finland

“Vie” / Jukka Tiensuu

Born in 1948. Harpsichordist, pianist, conductor with a broad repertoire from early to modern music. Worked as a free improviser with internationally known musicians. Gave concerts in most of the countries of Europe, the United States and Asia. Led courses on baroque music and music of our time. His compositions range from solo works for the kantele (the zither-like Finnish national folk instrument) to choral and orchestral works, from pieces for accordion ensembles to electronic and computer music. Worked in several studios and research centres around the world.

Red earth and rain / Eero Hämeenniemi

Born in 1951 in Valkeakoski, Finland. High School diploma 1969 South West High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Studied Indology, Philosophy and Musicology at the University of Helsinki from 1971, but decided to concentrate on musical composition. Graduated from the Sibelius Academy in composition in 1978, after earning a degree in music theory in 1976. Continued his studies in Krakow, Poland in 1979, Siena Italy 1979 and went to the United States as a Fulbright scholar in 1980-1981. Studied at the Eastman School of Music with Joseph Schwantner. Has studied classical Tamil and Indian culture (1999-2006, on and off) with Professor I. Sundaramurti, the former vice chancellor of the Tanjore Tamil University.

The Faroe Islands

Askur & Embla – The first day may be / Kári Bæk
Kári Bæk (f. 1950) is active on the Faroese music scene, both as a choir leader and musician playing the obo, and - particularly in the last 20 years - also as a composer.  The first works were for chorus, but subsequently he has also written for solo instruments and ensembles of varying size. In 2011 he wrote a musical fairy tale, "Veiða vind", for symphony orchestras. Many of Kári's works were performed for the first time by Faroese and Nordic choirs and ensembles such as Mpiri, Tarira and Aldubáran, often during the music festival Summartónar. A number of his works are available on CD with these ensembles. 
Ask and Embla were created from two pieces of wood that Odin, Vile and Ve, the three god brothers, found on the beach. They carved the two figures out of the wood, and Odin was so pleased with them that he decided to breathe life and spirit into them. Vile gave them intelligence and Ve gave them all the senses.

Iceland

Dreaming  / Anna Thorvaldsdóttir

Composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir has a passion for working with large sonic structures and her music tends to portray a flowing world of sounds with an enigmatic lyrical atmosphere. Anna’s music is frequently performed in Europe and the US and her works have been nominated and awarded on several occasions, e.g. at the Icelandic Music Awards, Prix Europa, for the annual International Rostrum of Composers and at the International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition. She holds an MA and a PhD degree from the University of California in San Diego. Anna’s portrait album – Rhízōma, which includes Dreaming for orchestra – was released October 25th 2011 through American label Innova Recordings and has been very well received.

Flutter for flute, orchestra and field recordings of insects / Þuríður Jónsdóttir

Composer and flautist Þuríður Jónsdóttir studied music in Iceland and Italy. She earned diplomas in the flute, composition and electronic music at the Bologna Conservatory and furthered her composition studies with F. Donatoni and A. Solbiati.  In her works she has frequently tackled the relation between acoustic and electronic sounds, for example in works she has written for solo flute and electronic sounds, for choir, orchestra, in an opera, a sound installation and a radio play. She has collaborated with groups such as Caput, Adapter, FontanaMix and EnsebleMa. Her music has been performed at festivals such as Présences, Musica Nova, ISCM and NMD. She has received commissions from various institutions and musicians, such as Radio France, Deutsche Radio and Nomus.

Norway

Vent Litt Lenger / Ole-Henrik Moe

Ole-Henrik Moe was born in Oslo in 1966. Ole-Henrik Moe's Vent Litt Lenger poses a challenge to one of the most sacred spaces in classical music, the string quartet. The work was written for the Arditti Quartet, an institution in music composition in our time. Moe goes into the anatomy of the violin, which is also his own instrument. He searches the body of the violin for subtle sounds in the space between tone and noise, levels of density and transition from the clear to the rough. The precursors can seem improvised but are precisely noted, often in several parallel grammars. But no matter how precisely defined this universe is, the human touch is always present. The music has been described as post spectral noise music and, both in his own experience and in artistic collaboration, the composer combines precise composition with traditional music and the electronic noise music tradition.

Stort sett  / Magne Hegdal

Born in 1944 in Gjerdrum, Norway. Studied composition with Conrad Baden and Finn Mortensen, and received his degree in composition from Oslo Music Conservatory in 1972. Magne Hegdal's "Stort sett" for violin and piano presents different approaches to composition: from an immediate emotional expression to music that the composer receives more that he creates. What first appears to be a twelve-tone universe manifests itself after each reference to other music - Beethoven, Schumann, Cage, Grieg, traditional music. Rather than outdistanced quotes these stand out as strong memories. Remembering, collecting and rediscovering becomes important, both here and in the long precursors which are directly composed.  With Hegdal coincidence as a tool is closely connected to experiencing nature or looking at a landscape. "Stort sett" means a wide perspective, an indication of time (often but not always) but also a set.  The latter can point towards other works which give an unbalanced view of composing, such as CPE Bach's Sechs Sammlungen... or Ives' A Set of Pieces.

Sweden

Golden Dances of the Pharaohs / Victoria Borisova-Ollas
Victoria Borisova-Ollas was born 1969 in Russia but has lived in Sweden for many years. She first achieved international recognition when her work Wings of the Wind won second prize in the Masterprize competition in 1998: the critics were ecstatic, describing her work as a piece of "sparkling sonic poetry." She uses an original and innovative vocabulary of sounds to create acoustic spaces of great beauty and intensity, capable of captivating both sophisticated ears and those less experienced but curious. Victoria began her musical studies at early age. After graduating first from the Central School of Music in Moscow and then from the famous Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, she continued her composition studies in Sweden at Malmö Academy of Music and in England at the Royal College of Music in London

Eleven Gates /Anders Hillborg

Anders Hillborg was born in Stockholm in 1954. He gained his first musical experience singing in choirs and was also involved in various forms of improvised music. From 1976 to 1982 he studied counterpoint, composition and electronic music at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, where his teachers included Gunnar Bucht, Lars-Erik Rosell, Arne Mellnäs and Pär Lindgren. Brian Ferneyhough, who was a guest lecturer at the College of Music on several occasions, was another important source of inspiration. Apart from occasional teaching positions, Hillborg has been a full-time freelance composer since 1982.  His sphere of activity is extensive, covering orchestral, choral and chamber music as well as film scores and pop music.

Go on a virtual tour amongst the nominees. You can listen to extracts from their music, and you can click further into the musicians' own exciting universe, where you can get even closer to the music.

The winner of the Nordic Council Music Prize will be announced at the beginning of June 2012 and the prize will be presented at the Nordic Council Session in Helsinki in November.

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