Johansons and Nystrøm are concluding work on a new piece

Latvian visual artist and composer Voldemārs Johansons is concluding work on his new piece “Op. 34”, which has been commissioned for festivals Skaņu Mežs (Riga) and Insomnia (Tromsø) as part of the project “Experimental Music Lighthouses: Riga – Tromsø”. He is joined by Norwegian contemporary music saxophonist Rolf-Erik Nystrøm who will be the live performer of the piece.

Johansons’ work on „Op. 34” happened in many stages: firstly, he visited Satavanger, where he collaborated with the Norwegian free improvisation maverick Frode Gjerstad. There, they conceived an overall idea of the piece, and Gjerstad provided seminal solo recordings that will constitute part of the backbone of the work. Gjerstad himself will not be present at live performances, but his recordings will be electronically manipulated and mirrored by Nystrøm’s live playing.

After meeting Gjerstad, Johansons spent three weeks on a creative residency in Lofoten islands, where he integrated Gjerstad’s input into the piece, as well as developed ideas of its expansion, including a part for a live performer, who would also play the saxophone.

During September 11th – 15th, Johansons, joined in Riga by Rolf-Erik Nystrøm, will conclude the final stage of work on the composition.

Rolf-Erik Nystrom

Rolf-Erik Nystrom

Rolf-Erik Nystrom is one of Norway’s most award-winning and internationally active musicians. It has been said that his unique technical talent gives him a timbre control that blows most people’s notions of what is possible on a saxophone, to a degree that makes the saxophone as an instrument almost subordinate to his personal expression. Nystrom’s range spans from being a soloist with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and a number of other Nordic and international ensembles, to receiving specially written music from composers such as Luca Francesconi and Richard Barrett, to name a few.

“Op. 34” will be premiered at the Skaņu Mežs festival in Riga (October 10, music house Daile) and subsequently also performed at Tromsø’s Insomnia (October 22 – 24).

The aim of the project “Experimental Music Lighthouses: Riga – Tromsø” (project nr. EEZLV04/GSKA/2013/10) is to promote a four part cooperation between Skaņu Mežs and Insomnia. This includes, amongst other things: the production of a Latvian/Norwegian composition; an exchange of Latvian and Norwegian musicians between the programs of the festival; creating a mutual festival program; the exchange of new compositions between Riga and Tromsø with the help of artists’ residencies. The unique soundscapes of both cities and their symbiosis is the emphasis of each of the exchange. The project benefits from a 99 000 € grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants.

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