Ultima – Oslo Contemporary Music Festival

  • Sarah Surgey
  • Tagged , , , ,
  • 7th September 2015
  • ClariNord-4-c-Jie-Yang-467x700

    Ultima – Oslo Contemporary Music Festival takes place September 10-19. This is a fascinating festival which we thoroughly recommend as it takes us through a celebration of music through collaborations, talks, commissions, exhibitions, improvised performances and of course music from every corner of genres.

    Held in Oslo this is the perfect opportunity for a Nordophile to explore this cultural mecca of a Nordic city and immerse in the music culture through the festival.






    Ultima is the premiere contemporary music festival in the Nordic region. The festival became a designated “knutepunkt” (cultural hub) in 2006 and is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs and Oslo City Council. Ultima is a foundation with 17 members, all of them professional cultural institutions or organisations.

    The festival takes place during September and is staged at venues all around Oslo. Our events are staged both in large, established venues such as the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, Oslo Concert Hall and the University of Oslo’s Great Hall as well as in small clubs, shop premises, industrial premises, museums, schools and outdoors.

    The Ultima Festival aims to promote artistic distinctiveness, trends and innovation and to make music of a high artistic standard accessible by everyone.

    His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon is the patron of Ultima.


    Featured Events



    Below are just a few of some of the events which are taking place. Head over to the Ultima website to find out about the other events which are taking place at the festival.


    Elisabeth Vatn: The color Beneath.

    Ekeberg park 6.30pm, September 10th



    Exclusive sunrise and sunset concerts with Elisabeth Vatn in James Turrell’s light installations in Ekeberg sculpture park.

    The Color Beneath by musician and composer ELISABETH VATN was conceived in James Turrell’s light installations in the old water reservoir on Ekeberg. Between 10–13 September, Vatn (harmonium, Meråker clarinet, bagpipes) performs withANDERS RØINE (langeleik, mouth harp, violin).

    Contemporary artist JAMES TURRELL works with perception, colour, light and space. The two location-specific works Ganzfeld: Double Vision and Skyspace: The Color Beneath were both created for the old water reservoir in 2013. While Ganzfeldexplores the way colours affect our senses, Skyspace makes use of the chromatic interaction between the concert space and the sky at dawn and dusk.

    In The Color Beneath the composer and performer turn their encounter with the installation into music, partly following the composition and partly through improvisation. Consequently, none of the concerts performed in this unique setting will be identical.

    The Color Beneath album was recorded during autumn 2014 and is released during Ultima 2015. The concerts are staged in cooperation with nyMusikk, Ekebergparken and Grappa Musikkforlag with contributions by Fond for Utøvende Kunstnere.


    Teknisk Museum, 10 AM

    Installation throughout festival



    ‘We are so used to seeing that suddenly we forgot how to look, so used to hearing that suddenly we forgot to listen.’

    Every movement we see in nature can be perceived as a visual concert, like a storm of birds moving together making astonishing patterns, or snow falling from the sky and touching the ground.Quintetto is based on the study of casual movement of objects or living creatures used as input for the production of sounds. The basic concept is to reveal what the ‘invisible concerts’ of everyday life. In this installation, the scene is five aquariums with a goldfish in each. The movement of the five fishes is captured by a video camera that translates their movements in digital sound signals/music in real time.


    Den Norske Opera & Ballett, Provesalen.




    Can music really be bad in itself or is ‘bad’ really nothing other than a subjective opinion?

    That is the question MATTHEW SHLOMOWITZ asks in Lecture About Bad Music, which was specially composed for the Anglo-Belgian octet. The work, which was written for lecturer, clarinet, electric guitar, synthesiser and violin, has been commissioned by Ultima and will receive its debut performance here. Australian-born Shlomowitz draws on elements from many fields and genres, employing musical demonstrations and recreations of psychological experiments to examine differences between musical experience and musical material.

    ALEXANDER SCHUBERT‘s Sensate Focus combines light and image, allowing lighting effects take on the role of a fifth performer to a quartet of musicians. In the work, Schubert, who studied bioinformatics, experiments with the interfaces between gesticular movements and musical sounds, where the performers’ physical movements and position in the room are essential elements of the composition.

    PLUS MINUS ENSEMBLE specialises in new music and modern key works. It is particularly known for its interest in avant-garde, experimental and conceptual music, such as Stockhausen’s seminal work from 1963, from which the ensemble takes its name.


    OCA (Office for Contemporary Art)




    CAMILLE NORMENT, who is Norway’s entry to the 56th Venice Biennale, began her collaboration with composer and writer DAVID TOOP at Café OTO in London in 2014. The collaboration resulted in a performance at the Biennale. The performance explores the legends, stories and mysteries of the depth of the oceans through sound. It is still being continually developed, and will be performed at Ultima in September.

    The Oslo-based American artist CAMILLE NORMENT’S practice includes performance, installation, drawing and sound. She explores how the body is interconnected with its environment through sound, and contemplates on the power of dissonance to create spaces for new ways of thinking. DAVID TOOP is a British composer, writer and professor of Audio Culture and Improvisation at the London College of Communication. The third edition of his debut book, Rap Attack, has just been released. He has recorded five solo albums since he released Ocean of Sound in 1995.

    In cooperation with nyMusikk and the Office for Contemporary Art Norway.


    Black Box Teater; Annie Dorsen – Yesterday Tomorrow

    September 18th, 7pm & September 19th, 6pm




    Annie Dorsen’s Yesterday Tomorrow is a musical that breaks most of the rules for this genre. Unlike traditional musicals, the music for this musical is created during the course of the performance with the help of computer-generated algorithms, which means that the final result is different every time. The only points of reference are the two well-known songs Yesterday by The Beatles andTomorrow from the musical Annie.

    Based on evolutionary processes such as mutation and natural selection, the algorithms determine the most appropriate route from the first song to the next, or from what has passed to what is to come. As a result, the performance stands as an expression of the unpredictable nature of the present, as a contrast to a familiar past and the notion of a happy future. The music is performed by three singers who continually receive information about which rhythm, pitch and lyrics to sing. The result is an intelligent, humorous yet disturbing encounter between man and machine.

    Annie Dorsen has previously work in film, dance and theatre, and in recent years has been particularly interested in artificial intelligence and digital performance. The Yesterday Tomorrowproject was developed in cooperation with Pierre Godard and Greg Bellar from the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (IRCAM.).

    Concept, direction: Annie Dorsen. Music director: Joanna Bailie. Algorithm design: Pierre Godard. Sound design: Greg Beller. Video systems design: Ryan Holsopple. Lighting design and technical direction: Bruno Pocheron, Ruth Waldeyer. Producer: Alexandra Rosenberg. Performers: Hai-Ting Chinn, Jeffrey Gavett & Natalie Raybould. Coproduction: Holland Festival, Black Box Teater, Performance Space 122, La Villette – Résidences d’Artistes 2015, L’Hippodrome, scène nationale de Douai, Théâtre de Gennevilliers with Festival d’automne à Paris, Le Maillon-Wacken – Scene européenne – Strasbourg, théâtre Garonne – Scène européenne – Toulouse. Supported by: Mount Tremper Arts, Abrons Arts Center, New York State Council on the Arts.


    CEO & Artistic Director – Lars Pettern Hagen



    “The board appreciates that Lars Petter Hagen will continue to manage the festival for another three years,” says Stein Gullberg, Chairman of the Board. “Mr. Hagen has brought an innovative spirit to the festival program and steered its administrative advancement with a steady hand. Public attendance is on a rise, and Ultima is meeting with ever growing international attention. It’s important to make the best use of this potential, which is best served by the continuity we achieve by extending this appointment. Lars Petter Hagen’s extensive network as well as the fact that he is held in esteem by a broad music and art environment, both within Norway and internationally.”

    Lars Petter Hagen has accepted the offer. “Oslo is a fabulous music town in constant growth, making the Ultima Festival one of the most exciting places to work in the whole world right now. I look forward to another three years with unpredictable musical encounters, dialog with the public and artists, good colleagues and partners,” he says.


    Ultima Academy



    How does art affect nature? How does nature affect art? For its 2015 edition, Ultima Academy invites scientists, music researchers and artists to talk about nature and discuss our attitude to it.

    Head over to Ultima.no to read more about the collaborations and what you can expect to see!

    Special thanks to Ultima for text and photos.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *