Tag Archives: composer

Beyond Form & Space

Catharina%20BackmanThe Swedish composer and musician Catharina Backman’s instruments of preference are self-made of glass, as well as her beloved accordion. She studied composition at Malmö Academy of Music with Javier Alvarez, Hans Gefors, Rolf Martinsson and Kent Olofsson. Catharina has always had a strong affinity for music on stage and her work includes opera commissioned from among others The Royal Swedish Opera and Malmö Opera. Catharina is also strongly influenced by the theatre in her other compositions and her chamber music often contains visual and theatrical elements. Catharina Backman is currently composing chamber music for The TAKY Contemporary Ensemble and later this year theatre music to the Berthold Brecht play The Good Person of Szechwan. In 2012 Catharina  was the artistic director of the Nordic Composers Council’s festival “Nordic Music Days”, hosted by The Swedish Composers Society in Stockholm.

At Operastorming #1 Catharina will explore the expanded possibilities of the operatic form, or  lack of form. She is interested in the possibilities of using the sound itself and its relation to the musicians’ presence on stage, as a point of departure for an opera.

More next week!

Opera on!

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First Solaris, then Opera

“SOLARIS”, a work by  Icelandic composer  and conductor Daníel Bjarnason (who will share his operatic visions at Operastorming #1) and the australian artist Ben Frost (who has lived for extensive periods in Iceland) will be performed at the Adelaide Festival in Australia  tonight.


“Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Krakow writer Stanislaw Lem’s novel Solaris, Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason were commissioned by Unsound to write this work for strings, percussion, prepared piano, guitars and electronics – a narrative of sound that is an exploration of an interior cosmos. The performance features members of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and film manipulations by Brian Eno and Nick Robertson, drawing on moments from the Tarkovsky film adaptation, to create a visual parallel to the music composition process.” (from the Unsound webpage)

The creative partnership of Daníel and Ben has yielded some exciting results (The Icelandic Music Award for best film score among other things), but now Daníel and Ben are both preparing individual  operatic works. Daníel is working on a commission for the Icelandic Opera and international co-producers (we shall learn more on April 18th). Ben Frost will compose and direct  a new opera  set to premiere this year, an adaptation of Ian Bank’s cult novel The Wasp Factory . The work is commissioned by the Bregenz Festival’s Art of our Times programme, and  co-produced with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and others.

These guys are bound to work up a storm in the opera world!

(Photo: Saga Sig)



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Figuring Out Nordic Opera

Within a time span ranging from August 2007 until June 2013 we have 773 productions, in 34 cities in the Nordic countries. Out of the 773 productions 38 are world premieres of new operas. Only 12 are produced by the major national opera companies, and then rarely on the main stage.

Of course we have to take into account that the economic crisis of 2008 put a major dent in the budgets of many of the opera houses, but still the development has not deviated dramatically from that of the previous decade.

Not surprisingly, the Nordic composer whose work is most frequently performed worldwide is Kaija Saariaho. Looking at production frequency Saariaho ranks no. 1 among female composers,  she is no. 15 on the list of living composers and comes in at place 96 on the current top 100 list of opera composers, dead or alive. (statistics source: Operabase).

A new opera by Saariaho is scheduled to premiere at ROH Covent Garden in 2020, part of something one can surely call a new opera extravaganza by today’s standards, as four new operas will premiere at Covent Garden in 2020, a culminating point of Tony Pappano and Kasper Holtens strong emphasis on the development of new work over the coming years.

Here a very interesting interview with Saariaho and images from the 2010 Vlaamse Opera production of  L´Amour de loin (Love from Afar). Again presented at the Canadian Opera in 2012.

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Jüri Reinveres Multifaceted Meanings at Operastorming #1


The Estonian composer Jüri Reinvere had great success with his first opera PURGE (after Sofi Oksanens award winning novel) at the Helsinki Opera last year. Now he is tackling the material of Ibsens Peer Gynt, scheduled to premiere at the Norwegian national Opera & Ballet in 2014.

Jüri Reinvere will be sharing his insights with us at Operastorming #1 

Sofi Oksanen and Gerhard Lock describe Jüri Reinvere (full article):

“Typically for Reinvere meanings are multifaceted, he moves beyond genre limitations, and recognizes the natural transition from music to poetry. In music he uses materials ranging from traditional instruments to sounds of nature and accompanying sounds of interpretation—and among the latter, most particularly, breathing—or phenomena that relate to sound environments like the echo in a room. Reinvere’s ease with crossing boundaries comes also from his having lived in societies with contrasting lifestyles and belief systems: the atheistic Soviet world replaced by Catholic Poland and followed by Lutheran Finland. Reinvere also lived for an extended period in Stockholm. In 2005, he established his permanent home in Berlin.”

(Photographer: Aaron Nace)

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Icelandic Music Awards: Composer of the Year at Operastorming #1

Icelandic composer Daníel Bjarnason who will be one of the key contributors at Operastorming #1 took home the prize for Composer of the Year at the Icleandic Music Awards on February 20th. He received the prize for his 2012 compositions “The Isle Is Full Of Noises” and “Over Light Earth”.

Daníel, along with Ben Frost also won the best music category at the Icelandic Film and TV Awards on February 16th for the score to the film’Djúpið” (‘The Deep’), directed by Baltasar Kormákur.

Daníels upcoming engagements include a new commission for L.A. Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

We look forward to Daníels operatic work!

Photo: SagaSig

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