hcmf// 2010: Throw open the curiosity cabinet of Norwegian music

Arne Nordheim

This year’s Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival marks the arrival of a three-year initiative to present the best sounds from across the North Sea. Music from Norway has been a strong presence at hcmf// in previous years, but in 2010 the festival welcomes further links with the country’s composers and musicians, through a project funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with liaison support from Music Information Centre Norway.

The quality and variety of Norwegian contemporary music is reflected throughout the programme at hcmf// 2010. On Thursday 25 November the festival pays tribute to the revered composer Arne Nordheim, who died aged 78 in June. Following an afternoon talk about Nordheim’s life and work, an evening concert showcases both his pioneering tape works of the late 1960s and early 1970s and pieces combining live instruments with the possibilities of electronic processing. The concert is presented by NOTAM, the Norwegian centre for technology in music and art, who have close links with the University of Huddersfield’s own music and music technology departments.

Saturday 27 November sees the acclaimed Arditti Quartet joined by violinist and composer Ole-Henrik Moe for a performance of his pieces Vent, Litt and Lenger (Wait, a Little, Longer), meditations upon perception and memory which demand technical brilliance in pursuit of the extremes of string playing. The same day also brings London Sinfonietta’s performance of three contrasting works, Stream, Curiosity Cabinet and Appearances by Rolf Wallin. Wallin’s music often incorporates scientific approaches such as fractal geometry and crystal structures and has drawn comparisons with Ligeti and Xenakis, whose Rebonds features at the same concert.

Norwegian instrumentalists make a notable contribution to many hcmf// events. Accordionist Frode Haltli has been a regular face at hcmf// in recent years and on Saturday 20 November he plays a vital role in the premiere of Naomi Pinnock’s Oscillare. Also on 20 November, the double bassist Michael Duch displays his skills in a trio with pianist John Tilbury and harpist Rhodri Davies, performing both composed and improvised music by Norwegian composer Lene Grenager as well as by Christian Wolff, Mariam Rezaei and Fluxus artist Ben Patterson. The boundary between composer and performer is tested, meanwhile, by Trond Reinholdtsen, who appears with ensemble Plus Minus to present his Concert Music Piece and 13 Music Theatre Pieces on Friday 26 November.

The partnership between hcmf// and Norway developed thanks to hcmf// Artistic Director Graham McKenzie’s awareness of the ever-increasing strength of the country’s music scene and his wish to present it to the international audience that hcmf// attracts. He says, “For me, Norwegian music in the 21st century represents a freedom for the artist to work across musical genres and to draw on the music traditions of the past to provide a contemporary soundscape. What seems unique to Norway is that within a single piece each musical idiom co-exists alongside the other, without compromise, and retaining its purity of form. This is what interests me about Norwegian music at this moment and is what I hope we can capture across the next three festivals and beyond.”

One way to discover more about the Norwegian artists featured at this year’s hcmf// is to visit Music Information Centre Norway’s website, http://www.listento.no, for news, biographies and catalogue information. The website includes all seven episodes of ‘99 Minutes’, a webcast series curated by DJ 99, aka DJ and music journalist Guttorm Andreasen and featuring interviews and music across all facets of the country’s musical culture. Listen to his brilliant hcmf// special here: http://soundcloud.com/mic-norway/99-minutes-program-7-101101-Huddersfield

Norway at hcmf//

Rhodri Davies, Michael Duch and John Tilbury (Sat 20 Nov, 1pm)

Oscillare (Sat 20 Nov,5pm)

A tribute to Arne Nordheim (Thu 25 Nov, 10pm)

Plus Minus (Fri 26 Nov, 4pm)

Arditti Quartet: Ole-Henrik Moe (Sat 27 Nov, 3pm)

London Sinfonietta (Sat 27 Nov, 7.30pm)

Click here to listen to a Spotify playlist of Norwegian music at hcmf// 2010