Saturday, 8 March 2014

University of Gothenburg - Academy of Music and Drama

Saturday the 8th of March, international woman’s day. This morning I also googled up the Academy of Music and Drama, and noticed that they also had a contemporary music festival named “Sirenfestivalen” which began today! The first concert started at 3PM, but luckily I was early, because there was an unofficial “meet the composers” happening before the concert which apparently had begun at 2 PM, but at least I heard the last 20 minutes of it.

The concert was organized by the society “Levande musik”, which seems to work a bit similar to the Finnish organisation “Korvat Auki-Open Ears”, except that it is not national and only is active in Gothenburg. In the concert five composers, three of them master students at Gothenburg Academy and the other two were graduates from the Academy, were played by professionals, by the trio Tchirkov-Josel-Veale. The peculiar trio Tchirkov-Josel-Veale consists of: the oboe, played by Peter Veale (from New Zeland but now working in Germany), the guitarist Seth Josel (from New York, now living in Berlin) and the accordion player Sergej Tchirkov (from St.Petersburg and still working mainly in Russia). A few of the pieces in the concert were conducted by Gunno Palmquist.

The program was:
Sebastian Ingvarsson (1989): The House is Black
Max Wainwright (1987): Six States
Axel Rudebeck (1978): Tyngd, lätthet, lätthet
Adam Skogvard (1980): Komposition nr.8

Because the opinion (at least my one) about music is formed by in which context you hear it, I always find it very hard to say anything about things I only have heard once. But what most strongly stayed in my mind was Max Wainwrights piece. He told me that he usually only writes for electronics and rarely for instruments nowadays, so this sounded like an electronic experiment of gliding sinus waves but on real instruments. At one point the oboist took out his mouthpiece from the oboe, took out a second mouthpiece and began blowing both the double reeds simultaneously. With the air pressure he managed to get rising and sinking sounds and effects while the accordion the whole time played a high accord almost in the same pitch. (Max told me he had originally planned it the other way, that the accordion was supposed to bend while the oboe stayed on one note, but it didn’t work at all so the musicians tried and suggested this solution, which sounded very similar to Max original idea.)

I happened to sit beside the man who had lead the discussion before the concert so I asked him if he happened to be the teacher at the Academy. And right I was, it was professor Ming Tsao. I introduced my self and told him that I’m a Finnish composer and he at once replied, “Yes I know, I just read your application the other day and we were all very impressed with it”. I asked Tsao if it would be possible for me to write an opera as a masters project, which he said should be fine. He said it is also possible to chose other projects, such as writing for the Stockholm Symphonic Wind Orchestra, for other orchestras etc, but that if I would want to have a whole opera performed it would be possible if I would look for my own musicians etc with help of the teachers. Tsao also introduced me to the professor of electronics Palle Dahlstedt.

Moreover I talked to the students Max Wainwright (who knew many of my Finnish composer friends once again through UNM) and Kajsa Magnarsson (who knew my composer friend Dante Thelestam from a summer course in Lithuania).

There are about 3-4 composition students in every year, and about 40% of them are women (although this concert happened to be very man dominated even though it was the international women’s day). The building of the Academy is very nice and has a friendly but pompous (in an artistic way) feeling about it. It actually reminds me a lot about Waldorf schools, because it had as good as no 90° angles, a lot of natural materials such as wood and stone and had big windows and with a lot of light coming in, and the building was located beside a green park. Funny to imagine that this might be my university next year…. Or Malmö, or Tallinn or Helsinki or Berlin!

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