Next Friday marks the start of the 2005 Ultima Festival, the year’s highlight for the contemporary/experimental/post-classical music scene with its broad and diverse programme.
This year’s festival focuses on Japanese music. More than fifty Japanese artists, dancers, musicians and composers are involved in a varied presentation of the performing arts in Japan today. There will also be the opportunity to hear a new Norwegian opera, commissioned works by composers from in and outside Norway, as well as the Music Technology Days 2005, Ultima Film: Dance for Camera, Meet the Composer, opera for children, Break the Sound Barrier, installations and exhibitions, a seminar on microtonality in vocal music, a conference on European cultural politics, and the presentation of the Arne Nordheim Composer Prize 2005.
Festival Composer for 2005 is the German composer Helmut Lachenmann – one of the most distinctive and original voices to merge on the European scene during the last forty years. His exploration of musical objects and their structure has had a decisive influence on our view of the avant-garde.
Under the motto ’Paths To Experience’ the Ultima Festival seeks to draw attention to the artistic creative process. The creation of an artistic statement lies down a secret path known only to the artist. Being aware of the loneliness of solitary decision-making, which constitutes the creative process, makes the choice of a creative artistic career a continuing challenge for many.
Writes the festival in a press statement: “When encountering Japanese music we find a similar situation which, because it is rooted in a historical background entirely different from our own, presents a fascinating and challenging topic for investigation.”
In addition to the Japanese composers, artists, dancers and performers, the Ultima festival offers opportunities to see and hear musicians, composers, dancers and artists from Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.
The entire programme is available here.
The Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival is an annual international festival of high artistic standing whose aim is to present modern music and related art forms in Oslo. At the core of the festival’s activities are the contributions from the 18 member organizations, which provide the basis of the festival programme. These organizations are leading music and art institutions in Oslo, who through their membership in the Ultima Festival commit themselves to providing a self financed concert production or similar event for the festival each year. Ultima is an important cultural happening in Norway which seeks to present hitherto unknown and unheard of works. Ultima has, during the course of its existence, achieved international acclaim, and is today one of Europe’s foremost festivals for contemporary music.
Since the first independent Ultima Festival in 1991, over 1500 works by 560 composers from over 40 countries have been performed, and 260 works have had their world premiere at the Festival. One of the main objectives of the Ultima Festival is to promote public interest in innovative art in Norway, and the festival seeks thereby to contribute to the struggle against conformity, challenging the consciousness of the time, like all contemporary art through the ages. The festival is therefore naturally open to new international impulses. Ultima is also an important source of commissions and engagements for composers and performers. Ultima takes place over 10-14 days in September/October each year.
The performances are held in 15-20 separate venues all over Oslo, ranging from the Oslo Concert Hall and the University Aula with its murals by Edvard Munch, to intimate jazz and club venues such as Blå and the Parkteatret theatre.