As a result of the four-year artistic research project, I arranged a mini-festival with three concerts representing different aspects of my musical practice and artistic achievements. These three concerts represent some of the works from the project as well as showing a timeline of my musical development of experimentation, from the more classical type of work “Concerto with orchestra”, to chamber music with orbiting musicians and solo pieces using voice, ending with the premiere of the co-creation Ulvedrømmer. I chose works which I felt were linked to the thought of music-as-speech in several ways, either as articulation or in the interpretation, but also describing a fairytale and experimenting with adding voice and speech. These final artistic presentations represent the artistic outcome of my four-year project, intending to realize my ideas of the foregoing work, as well as showing some ideas for the way forward. I have embedded some cut videos giving an impression of the different works from the concerts.
The program consisted of:
11 November 18:00 Nils Henrik Asheim: Cello stories, cello concerto
Trondheimsolistene, Conductor: Øyvind Gimse
I think this first concert all in all was relatively successful, except for me not projecting enough in some of the loudest orchestra parts. The music is sounding ok, I just need to be more expressive towards the orchestra and the audience. Now, watching the video afterwards, I feel like shouting to myself to enjoy and not seem so worried, even though I am fully aware that this is because I am concentrating almost too much. I have a presence in the tone and music, but by not letting go and working a bit too cognitively, I am finding the feeling of flow only in parts.
The demanding rhythmical aggressive parts are well played but should have projected a bit more. I can see in the video that the dynamics were generally ok, but especially in two of the most energetic and loud parts I could have projected more. I admit that I did not feel that I found the right frame of mind, and I got more nervous and tense than I wished. Maybe my wish to create presence and to follow my own advice resulted in my loss of projection, but I was concentrating on trying to lose myself in the music. Here is a cut version (1/3 of length) of the concert showing some of the different «stories» and the development:
12 November 13:00 Lene Grenager: Tryllesangen
Eirik Hegdal: Movement from Concerto Piccolo per violoncello et voce
Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje: To F, solo cello
Ellen Lindquist: Many Thousands Gone
Karin Rehnqvist: In Orbit, for clarinet, cello, violin and piano
The first work, Lene Grenager’s Tryllesangen, has been very important for me in getting to know her and her music. I feel like the project started with this work and it felt natural to include it in the final concert. It is a very descriptive work, and it is like telling the actual fairytale with tones rather than words.
Eirik Hegdal’s Movement from Concerto Piccolo per violoncello et voce, is a work which I feel is very much like a monologue. Eirik wants me to shape the music and timing almost without directions in the score, and I bend the time as much as I dare within a rhythmical frame. The musical contrasts are very clear, with the swinging happy and talkative first part, and then the mournful and thoughtful middle and ending.
This work is a part of a project with several commissioned works, where I asked the composers to experiment with the use of the instrumentalist’s voice. I wanted the voice to be an extended color of the sound of the cello. When the wordless singing starts in Eirik’s piece it is almost not audible, but gradually comes more and more out of the cello sound.
Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje’s To F also uses singing without words, and whistling, and the work is like a “stream of thoughts passing by”. The work was not written for me, but I love the way the music at times give a feeling of almost standing still and I can work on presence and intensity of energy, like the slow crescendo opening, and through showing the changing harmonies in the following arpeggio parts.
Ellen Lindquist’s work Many Thousands Gone, portrays the ongoing refugee crisis and how desperate it must be to take care of a child in such a situation. This ‘story’ for cello and voice is told from the perspective of a mother, remembering. Fragments of two folksongs, one American and one Norwegian, are woven into the piece: Many Thousands Gone is an American slave spiritual from the mid-1800s, and ‘Vi har ei tulle’ by Margrethe Munthe is about absolute love for one’s child In this work I have several stretches with free improvised passages, and the whole work is inspired by my improvisations with the combination of song and cello sound. I have room and time in the music to really engage in using my embodied affects. This is a touching work, filled with sorrow, despair but also hope, and I felt I was able to get this through to the audience.
12 November 20:00 Lene Grenager and Marianne Baudouin Lie:
Ulvedrømmer, a onewomanmusical
The third concert or performance, was the premiere of Ulvedrømmer. Ulvedrømmer (wolf dreams) is both a conclusion of the whole project, a reflection on its own, and showing elements pointing onwards from this research fellowship. Through a more indirect textual material, I was commenting on my work through both senses and reflections. The work can be criticized for using acting/ dancing when this is not my domain, but this performative work is a part of the expression, even though I use elements of which I am not an expert. This creates a feeling of risk for the audience and for me, which can give an extra concentration and energy, and at this point I was even less tense and very focused on the tasks I had given myself, combining text, movement, energy and music. I knew this would be something unexpected and I did not feel pressure to live up to expectations like in the Asheim “concerto” performance.
I projected a commenting text on my artistic research project, taken from my written reflection, on a back screen. The texts spoken or sung by me reflect dreams, memories or lived experiences of actual failure or lost dreams, and these experiences as forming moments. The scene of the tap dance was an actual memory from I was about ten years old. The feeling of dread when realizing that you have failed, is in retrospect more comical and a moment I am actually quite proud of – even though I can still feel this immense shame of failing and an intense wish to just disappear.
In the performance I also use two of the tae kwon do patterns, Kwang Gye and Po-Eun, to show physically how they create an inner force and another way of creating intensity and presence through concentration. Embodiment and presence is an energy in all kinds of performative work.
For me a performance is about creating magic, and here I experiment with touching the audience with a mixture of humor, rhythm, energy, music, presence, stories and showing vulnerability, and to keep the nerve of the music and the presence when I challenge myself to move in the room and both work with and without the cello.
During the “fox” song, which is about friendship, trusting yourself and not giving away your magic, I saw tears in the eyes of several of the spectators. The tap dance was supposed to be funny, but maybe at the same time make the audience cringe a bit with embarrassment? This was a type of performance where I wanted the material to talk for itself, and at the same time explain enough so that the audience would get a kind of overall feeling of my work from the last four years and give a view on developing through an Artistic Research project. In hindsight I am surprised to see in the video how much more communicative I seem in this mix of expressions, managing to keep presence through a demanding combination of media.