Composer awarded prestigious German prize

Norwegian composer Magnar Åm receives the prestigious European Composer Award at the young.euro.classic festival in Berlin.

Click here to listen to and donwnload works composed by Magnar Åm

Magnar Aam, 2003

Mid-August saw the Europäischer Komponistenpreis, the European Composer Award awarded for the seventh time during the young.euro.classic festival in Berlin. Berlin’s mayor presented the award to Norwegian composer Magnar Åm for his orchestral work "det er 'kje snøen som fell, det er me som stig" which was performed in Berlin by the National Norwegian Youth Orchestra.

The award is given in recognition of the festival's best new composition as each participating youth orchestra is called upon to bring a new composition from their home country. An 11-member audience jury selected the winner from a group of twelve premiered works. Head of the jury, Martina von Brüning states that Åm’s composition distinguishes itself through its use of concentrated compositional means and well-developed sense of ambiance.

The € 5000 award was presented to Åm by Berlin’s mayor Karin Schubert.

Magnar Åm (1952) was born in Trondheim. He received his education as an organist at the Bergen Conservatory of Music, and studied composition with Ketil Hvoslef in Bergen as well as with Ingvar Lidholm at the National College of Music in Stockholm.

Magnar Åm had his debut as an organist in 1971, and his breakthrough as a composer came with the work Prayer (1972) for strings, choir and soprano soloists. He is now a full-time composer and lives in Volda (Western Norway), where he also works with choirs for children and youth. He receives the State Guaranteed Income for Artists.

Magnar Åm writes frequently in a polyphonic, freely dissonant or free-tonal style with a condensed expressive, yet ascetic introspective tone language - where melodic and experimental work coexist, and where the movements of the musical elements in the concrete, three-dimensional room play an increasingly important role. In recent years, in his search for a more ideal mediation of musical energy, he has often allowed the works to contain elements that exceed the conventional rituals of the concert hall. Examples of this are A Cage-bird's Dream, a multi-media work where choral groups constantly pass the audience in different directions, carrying their sounds with them, på en stol (on a chair), a visual concert (not excluding humour) for mime, tape and four instrumentalists (with text by Torun Lian), fritt fram, a chamber work for which the musicians have not arrived when the piece begins, Tonebath, a multi-media room of experience for one person at a time (by appointment!) with text by Liv Holtskog and visual installations by Astri Eidseth Rygh, as well as his musical reflections, an improvisational project with a long-perspective where the listeners can come to the composer individually and have a piano piece dedicated to them, inspired by themselves and their personal radiation then and there. Åm says:

"Time and space structured as music is a formidable tool for one who seeks to make conscious his deepest essence and meaning, whether one creates, performs, or listens. But the pleasure of allowing things become habit is a tempting veil and a hindrance for all searching, also here. This is why I undertake the task of delving into old ways of mediating music quite frequently - partly to awaken, partly to develop new rituals that can better strengthen the deeper functions of music."

Magnar Åm's production ranges from vocal and chamber music via electroacoustic music, to large orchestral works and multi-media. From his recent production, one can mention point zero (1979-83) for choir, soprano and orchestra (with two varieties for smaller ensembles), the symphony my planet, my soul (1982), the piano trio Freetonal conversations (1986), the three orchestral works if we lift as one (1988), timeless energy (1991), and let the boat slip quietly out (1989) - that together form the symphony closer now, and the oratorio ...and life... (1990), which is identical with the music for Pilegrimsspillet, written for The Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.

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