MAYBE WE FIGHT, MAYBE WE DEFEND
– reflections on Ung Nordisk Musik 2018, Bergen, Norway, 28.08-01.09
The 2018 edition of the annual UNM festival for young composers displayed a somewhat defensive group of artists. Are commercial demands finally beginning to influence contemporary music in the Nordic countries? James Black writes from Bergen, Norway.
"A world of extremes
If there is one thread I can tease out from the 35 works here, it’s a certain defiance in attitude and strength of conviction. Ours is a generation that cannot afford to become complacent. Things must be done full measure, or not done at all.Take for example Ragnhild May’s literally earth-shaking Bellows for organ, synthesizers and brass quartet (a collaboration with Stefan Maier). Seismically low drones shook the entire cathedral the piece was presented in. Midway through, May solemnly walked down the aisle, playing a home-made instrument that emitted piercingly high shrieks. Then she kneeled before the altar, almost vanishing from the audience view. Extreme lows, extreme highs, extreme dynamics, simply and effectively presented."