Up North! - Performing groups and commissioned composers

Up North! is a unique cross-fertilization of Nordic and Irish composers and musicians. The Dublin contemporary festival takes place from December 5th to 8th. Below you’ll find a presentation of the festival’s performing groups and commissioned composers.

Cikada (utsnitt)

Avanti! Ensemble (Finland)

The Avanti! Ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano) consists of members of the renowned Finnish performing group which was formed in 1983. Avanti! is an ensemble that varies in size from a string quartet to a symphony orchestra and has a strong sense of responsibility for the music of today.

Avanti!’s programme will include Eat Sleep Empire by Irish composer Ian Wilson (Up North! commission).

Callino String Quartet (Ireland)

The young Irish string quartet, The Callino Quartet, was formed in June 1999 following a very successful and critically acclaimed performance at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival in Bantry. It consists of four of the most talented young Irish musicians, all honours graduates of the Royal Academy of Music, London.

The Callino programme will include the premičre of the third string quartet by Finnish composer Kimmo Hakola (Up North! commission).

Cikada String Quartet (Norway)

The Cikada String Quartet is part of the Cikada Ensemble, formed in Oslo in 1989. The Cikada String Quartet has recorded several albums, the most recent being Black Angels, titled after the George Crumb composition of the same name. Cikada has also collaborated with many contemporary composers and jazz musicians.

The Cikada Programme will include the premičre of the seventh string quartet by Irish composer Kevin Volans (Up North! commission). Cikada will collaborate with Icelandic clarinettist Einar Jóhannesson in a performance of Linberg’s Clarinet Quintet. The quartet will also collaborate with Irish jazz guitarist and composer/ improviser Mark O’Leary to create a new work during the festival.

Concorde (Ireland)
Concorde was founded in 1976 to promote new music on a regular basis. The group has performed widely throughout Ireland and Europe. Concorde regularly commission new work from Irish composers and frequently work with international guest soloists. In recent years Concorde has performed at international festivals in the USA, Italy, Germany, the Slovak Republic, Romania, Latvia and The Netherlands.

Concorde’s programme will include the premičre of a new work by Swedish composer Kent Olafsson (Up North! commission)

Contemporánea (Denmark)
Contemporánea (clarinets, percussion, violin, double bass and sound projection) specializes in electroacoustic music. The repertoire covers a wide area – from pieces with tape or simple effect processing to extensive sound processing or interactive use of computer. Contemporánea was founded in March 1997 and has performed 120 concerts, given first performances of 65 pieces by 27 different composers, and recorded three CDs.

Contemporánea’s programme includes the premičre of a new work by Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy (Up North! commission)

Crash Ensemble (Ireland)

Crash Ensemble, one of Ireland’s most dynamic and innovative performing groups, was founded in 1997. Since its first sold-out concert in Dublin, the group has attracted enthusiastic audiences for its particular blend of music, video, dance and electronics and has built up an enviable reputation for its presentation of exciting, high-quality concerts of contemporary music. As well as performing regularly throughout Ireland, Crash has appeared in Sweden, Germany, Canada and the USA.

Crash’s programme will include premičres of two Up North! commissions by Ejnar Kanding (Denmark) and Hilmar Thordarson (Iceland)

Rilke Ensemble (Sweden)
The Rilke Ensemble (twelve-voice choir) was formed in 1980. The Rilke Ensemble collaborates frequently with instrumental musicians, actors and painters in their striving to find new ways of working. They also have close contact with composers who are asked to write new vocal music and test new forms. Many of the finest composers, mainly from the Nordic nations, have dedicated pieces to the Rilke Ensemble.

Rilke’s programme will include the premičre of a new work by Irish composer Jennifer Walshe (Up North! commission)

Whispering Gallery (Ireland)
Whispering Gallery is a collective established in the summer of 1999 by a group of young Dublin-based artists. Their aim is to present concerts catering for the ever growing interest in experimental sound art and improvised music in Ireland, and simultaneously to provide much needed outlets for their own work, both at home and abroad. Today there are six active members in the group.

Whispering Gallery will work with Norwegian composer Řyvind Torvund to create a new work for the festival (Up North! commission)

Up North! commissioned composers

Donnacha Dennehy (Ireland)
Born in Dublin in 1970, Donnacha Dennehy studied music at Trinity College, Dublin, the University of Illinois and IRCAM, Paris. He now lectures in music technology at Trinity College Dublin and is Artistic Director of Crash Ensemble. He has been commissioned and performed widely throughout Ireland, Europe and the USA.

Kimmo Hakola (Finland)
Kimmo Hakola (born 1958) is considered one of the most exciting composers in Finnish musical life. Hakola studied at the Sibelius Academy under Einojuhani Rautavaara and Eero Hämeenniemi and won the UNESCO Composers’ Rostrum in 1987 with his String Quartet. Hakola’s music has been performed at several major music events including the ISCM World Music Days as well as the festivals in Edinburgh, Huddersfield and Witten and Ars Musica in Bruxelles.

Ejnar Kanding (Denmark)
Ejnar Kanding was born in 1965 and studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. In 1997, together with Fritz Gerhard Berthelsen, he founded the ensemble Contemporánea for electroacoustic music and has continued to act as composer, artistic director and sound engineer for the group. With Contemporánea he has been performing extensively in Denmark and abroad.

Kent Olafsson (Sweden)
With a background as a song-writing guitarist in a rock band, Kent Olofsson often has a touch of unease or dark fatefulness. His music communicates directly in a very consistent and personal way. His works have been commissioned by among others the ensembles Vokalgruppen Ars Nova, Kroumata Percussion Ensemble and KammarensembleN.

Hilmar Thordarson (Iceland)
Hilmar Thordarson (b. 1960). Graduated from the Reykjavík Conservatory of Music in 1985, with a B.A. in Music Theory and Composition. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts in 1989, and a second master’s in Composition from Yale University in 1991. Currently Hilmar Thordarson is a director of Kopavogur Computer Music Center (KCMC)

Řyvind Torvund (Norway)
Řyvind Torvund was born in 1976 in Porsgrund, Norway. As the child of two Norwegian artists he grew naturally into the weird world of contemporary art, surrealism, and varied musical experimental work. With a background as a highly regarded guitarist, mainly performing freely improvised music, he has established himself as an important musician. He studied at the Norwegian State Academy of Music and currently lives and works in Berlin.

Kevin Volans (Ireland)
Kevin Volans has been described as “one of the planet’s most distinctive and unpredictable voices”. He was born in South Africa in 1949, later settling in Ireland and becoming an Irish citizen. His major successes have included his first string quartet, White Man Sleeping (1986), the recording of which – by the Kronos quartet – broke all records for string quartet disc sales.

Jennifer Walshe (Ireland)
Jennifer Walshe was born in 1974 in Dublin. She studied composition with John Maxwell Geddes at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and recently completed a doctoral degree in composition at Northwestern University, Chicago, studying with Amnon Wolman. In 2000 she won the Kranichsteiner Music Award at the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, Darmstadt.

Ian Wilson (Ireland)
Ian Wilson was born in Belfast in 1964. His music has been performed and broadcast on six continents by artists such as the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, the Ulster, Belgrade Philharmonic and Norwegian Radio Orchestras, the London Mozart Players and the Irish Chamber Orchestra. His music is published by Universal Edition (London) Ltd.

Useful Web resources:

Festival web page: www.crashensemble.com/upnorth
Crash Ensemble: www.crashensemble.com
Network North: www.networknorth.net
Nordic Council of Ministers: www.norden.org
Project Arts Centre, Dublin: www.project.ie
Music Network, Dublin: www.musicnetwork.ie
Contemporary Music Centre, Ireland: www.cmc.ie

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