"British music has a certain strangeness that I like. A hidden logic that I can't completely grasp, which I find compelling."
Norwegian composer Eivind Buene.
What is Nordic Matters?
Over the course of 2017, London’s Southbank Centre will be inviting audiences to look more closely at what’s happening in Nordic art and culture. The programme for Nordic Matters will embed Nordic culture and artists in London and other parts of the UK and provide a platform to some of the ‘hidden voices’ from Åland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, as well as Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. This is the first time that Southbank Centre has programmed a year-long festival dedicated to one region of the world. It is expected that around a third of artists, authors and performers participating in events at Southbank Centre during 2017 will come from the Nordic region.
Norway in the UK: Inspiring the work of Eivind Buene
On June the 6th, one of London’s best loved churches, St John Smith’s Square, will welcome the London Sinfonietta for a concert that celebrates Nordic Nights with a programme of music including new work by Eivind Buene (b. 1973). Buene studied pedagogics and composition at the Norwegian State Academy of Music before becoming composer in residence with the Oslo Sinfonietta. Since 2000 he has been a freelance composer living and working in Oslo, writing for a wide array of ensembles and orchestras such as Ensemble Intercontemporain and Ensemble Musikfabrik. Commissions have been received from Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Fondation Royaumont and a variety of Scandinavian orchestras and ensembles.
Buene frequently engages in collaborations with improvising musicians and develops music in the cross-section between classical notation and improvisation. His music has been performed at prestigious venues, including the Carnegie Hall, Berlin Philharmonie and Centre Pompidou. Buene’s opera is currently awaiting production in Oslo, a piece that he worked on with the writers Jon Øystein Flink and Rasmus Munch. Buene has, in addition, written music critique and essays, and made his literary debut with the novel ‘Enmannsorkester’ in 2010. His third novel, Oppstandelse, was released in September 2016.
Visit the Southbank Centre website for more about the London Sinfonietta concert.
Eivind Buene on being inspired by Britain
"When I studied composition, back in the nineties, the music of contemporary British composers like Brian Ferneyhough and James Dillon was important to me. I still like the sound of some of their wildly complex work, and I remember hearing their music live when I was in my early twenties as an ecstatic experience. But in later years, 16th and 17th century consort music, especially the music of Matthew Locke, has been the most influential for me. I took Locke’s Consort of Fower parts as the starting point for my first British commission, for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, in 2007.
Discovering this sort of British music was a coincidence, really. I remember being in a record store, binging on classical recordings, and grabbed a Jordi Savall-recording of a composer I had never heard of – Matthew Locke. It struck me immediately, both the composition and the playing, and I listened to it a lot over a period of several years. I still do, from time to time. There's something about the melancholy streak, I guess, that maybe resonates with a certain Nordic melancholy, of which I have discovered I'm not totally free. I do my best to suppress it, writing some loud and annoying music every now and then! Also, compared to continental music from the same period, I find that it has a certain strangeness that I like. A hidden logic that I can't completely grasp, which I find compelling.
More about Nordic Matters
As part of the festival, particular emphasis will be placed on three main themes influenced by Nordic identity and society: play fostering curiosity and creativity, for people of all ages but especially children and young people; sustainability; and gender equality. Audiences will be able to experience and explore this cultural connection through an extensive programme of music, dance, theatre, literature, spoken word, design, visual art, talks & debates, fashion and food.
The programme is curated and presented by Southbank Centre, which has been supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Nordic embassies in London and the national arts agencies in Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland.
Following the official launch of Nordic Matters in January 2017, the British Council will be focusing on an evolving selection of artists participating in Nordic Matters through its dedicated websites and Facebook channels for Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
Jude Kelly CBE, artistic director of the Southbank Centre , said: “It is a great honour for the UK and Southbank Centre to have been chosen to host Nordic Matters in 2017. The Nordic countries have long been at the forefront of social change, from championing young people’s rights to environmental concerns and gender equality, and their enlightened approach to culture and education chimes with Southbank Centre’s own belief in the power of the arts to transform lives. We are delighted that this year-long partnership will enable us to present a truly authentic cultural exchange showcasing the richness and diversity of the Nordic countries, including the lesser known Greenland, Åland and the Faroe Islands. In an ever-changing world, it is even more crucial that we celebrate the ways in which culture can bring us together, rather than driving us apart. Let the collaborations commence.”
The Nordic Council of Ministers said, “Nordic Council of Ministers is proud to collaborate with Southbank Centre on the Nordic Matters initiative. It is an excellent way to facilitate and showcase Nordic art and culture abroad - especially in the context of gender equality, sustainability, and children and youth. Cultural exchange between participating Nordic artists and British artists and audiences is a central and important feature of Nordic Matters. With a venture of this nature and size we can put our shared Nordic values and culture under the microscope and hope to be able to both inspire and be inspired beyond the borders of the Nordic Region. We might even learn something about ourselves and the links between the Nordic countries.”
SPOTLIGHT ON NORWAY
Below you can discover a selection of acts from Norway who will be featured as part of the Nordic Matters festival.