On April 27, "Deep Toccata" for organ and orchestra is performed by Badische Staatskapelle, organist Carsten Wiebusch and conductor Johannes Willig. The location is Christuskirche, with its monumental Klais organ.
This piece was originally written for the Trondheim Cathedral in 2014. It has now been revised.
A few words about the music: A "Toccata" is a piece with lots of motion, normally executed by one performer. The prefix «Deep» may here indicate several layers of motion, different tasks being performed at different speeds. Together they form a «sea of sound» where fast and slow time are working in parallel.
From the start of the piece we can hear the organ diving down into the orchestra, transmitting motion and energy and then becoming immersed in the resulting sound web. This basic gesture recurs again and again, interpreted in different ways, in a variation form.
Apart from the improvisation-like detail work, the construction of the piece follows a simple architectural plan. Comparable to the paintings of Escher, with endless staircases, there is a harmonic structure moving slowly downwards at a constant speed through all the piece. Against this, there is a counterpoint of ascending lines that becomes more and more prominent as we approach the end.
There are many other sources of inspiration: the film «Inception» with its architecture that is mirrored upwards, where you finally are not sure what is up and down. Also, Gustave Doré’s exuberant illustrations to «Paradise Lost» have been in my mind.
Entering 2017, my days are very much filled with studying repertoire and developing new concert programmes. There are festival appearances coming up on the historical instruments of Kongsberg and Røros. Also, there are nice projects in Germany. There are also recording projects. With organ, but also a Kitchen Orchestra project with Roma musicians from Slovakia.
For details on 2017, look here.
Looking back at the past year, I need to specially thank Stavanger Symphony Orchestra for no less than three important collaborations and premieres: Vindskulpturer, Sudden Landscapes and Beethoven-nummeret. Of which Sudden Landscapes by far is the most important for me (My largest work since the children opera The Tempest, of 2014. And a next orchestral big step after Grader av Hvitt, of 2007, also a Stavanger Symphony collaboration).
To be given the responsability to create a new festival on behalf of Stavanger konserthus was certainly a thrill. Orgelkraft filled all the venue three days in a row, April1-3, with activities directly or indirectly connected to the organ.
The Organ Night concept appeared both in Stavanger, with the Obstfelders Orgelnatt in November, and at Bodø Organ Festival in April, where we also saw the premiere of Orgelskipet for carillon, organ and orchestra. A very rewarding experience was the workshop and concert "Pilegrim i Orgelsko" with 10 organ pupils age 8-19 in Trondheim Cathedral, August. Cycles of new compositions from this project have recently been published.
For the interested - more details on last year here.
I had the great pleasure to work again with Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, this time for a commentary on Beethoven. The occasion was the Norwegian Culture Council's annual conference, which took place in Stavanger konserthus. I was asked to conceive something around the theme of The Critic, and contacted the author Øyvind Rimbereid. We had worked together before, on the Orgelsjøen project. I fed him with my ideas on deconstructing Beethoven, and my plan to include quotations from his contemporary critics (which varied between elevated praise and completely lack of understanding). I also wanted to create an involvment in the audience, asking them to use their mobile phones, both to disturb them a bit and to make them ideally participate in the large choir of opinions, the of critics, of likes and dislikes (even of the voices of the "millions" of the Ode to Joy).
It was an important milestone when Sudden Landscapes finally was performed for the first time in full length, after preparations that stretched over four years. Sudden Landscapes was originally planned as an organ concerto, but evolved to something more like a large-scale symphonic painting where the organ and the orchestra continuously exchange sounds and blend in different ways. The piece is conceived as an uninterrupted series of 30 scenes, and lasts for about 35 minutes.
On September 15, 2016, as a part of the Norwegian Organ Festival, the piece was performed by Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, cond.James Feddeck, and Nils Henrik Asheim on the organ. Sudden Landscapes is commissioned by Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, with support from the Norwegian Cultural Fund.