Get to know the composers and performers who will contribute to our 2014 OSLO edition!
Mira Benjamin (b. 1985, Vancouver, British Columbia) grew up in a family of music theorists, and began studying violin at three years old. She specialises in performing new and experimental music with a particular focus on collaboration with composers. She is a member of the Montréal-based Quatuor Bozzini. She is a passionate champion of the work of emerging composers, and in 2011 she founded nu:nord. Mira was educated at McGill University, where she was an original founder of the music outreach program, Chamber Music Without Borders, which continues to operate today, run by McGill music students to benefit the Montréal community. Her primary teachers have been Denise Lupien, Denys Bouliane and Taras Gabora. Mira’s website.
Stine Sørlie is a Norwegian composer who has studied at Gotland Tonsättarskola in Sweden and the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo. Her works include solo, chamber and orchestral pieces, and music for film, theater and dance. Sørlie is interested in creating compositional formats that include different variables which engage the musicians in an active manner, offering them options and flexibility when interpreting the music. Her works have been performed at festivals such as the Stockholm Chamber Music Festival, NuMusic, Borealis and Ultima. Stine’s website.
Singer and dancer Silje Aker Johnsen was educated at the Grieg Academy of Music in Bergen, Universität der Künste, Berlin, and holds a master degree in classical singingfrom the Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo. She has had a strong focus on contemporary music in addition the the baroque and classical vocal repertoire. Silje has also worked as a dancer in the Polish Dance Theatre in the 2011/2012 season. Recently she has been performing in the dance music piece Thousand Rooms, with choreography by Gunhild Bjørnsgaard and music by Georges Aperghis. Silje has created several vocal pieces and has been featured at festivals including the Huddersﬁeld Contemporary Music Festival, Die Donaueschinger Musiktage, Ultima Contemporary Music Festival and Bergen International Festival. Silje was granted the Norwegian Government Grants for Young Artists in 2011/2012. Silje’s website.
Formed late in 2012, Tre Voci Cello Ensemble is made up of Norwegian cellist Torun Saeter Stavseng and British cellists/composers Gregor Riddell and Colin Alexander. They are interested in exploring the outer reaches of classical music in a chamber musical setting: with equal emphasis on styles ranging from transcriptions of renaissance choral music to contemporary works including the use of electronics and improvisation. They have commissioned works by a number of composers, as well as composing their own music.
Gregor Riddell is a cellist and a composer of acoustic and electronic music. He is a founder member of the Solstice String Quartet, and a member of Living Room In London. Gregor read Music at Cambridge University and composition at the Royal College of Music. He recently held an Artist Residency at the Banff Centre where he wrote a substantial work for cello and electronics which he also recorded last autumn with producer Rob Lewis. In 2013 he taught composition and cello in La Paz, Bolivia through the ‘Bolivia Classsica’ scheme which helps local children develop their musical talent. Upcoming 2013 performances include Kings Place, Spitalfields Festival and concerts in Bolivia, Canada, Australia and Norway. Gregor’s website.
In 2010, Norwegian cellist Torun Saeter Stavseng, was awarded the Swedish Royal Academy of Music honorary prize performing Britten’s Cello Symphony with the Stockholm Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In the same year she was awarded the Ung svensk soloist prize and offered the principal cellist position of the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra where she worked until 2012. Other solo appearances include Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra and Oslo Camerata. Other prizes and awards include RWE Dea Kulturpreis, Oslo Camerata soloist competition, Edsberg and Sollentuna stipend, KMA Jernaaker stipend. Together with Swedish pianist Anna Christensson they will release their debut album of both new and familiar works for cello and piano later this year. Torun appeared in festivals such as Risor chamber music festival, Lyckaa Festival, Sandviken Kammarmusikfestival, Brahms festival Copenhagen, Open Chamber Music Festival Prussia Cove. Important musical influences include Jean Guihen Queyras, Frans Helmerson, Steven Isserlis and Torleif Thedeen. Torun’s website.
Born into a family of musicians, Colin Alexander began playing the ‘cello at a very early age. He later studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, achieving his BMus in both ‘cello, with Oleg Kogan, and composition, with Richard Baker. Colin has completed a masters in composition at the Royal College of Music on a full scholarship whilst establishing himself as a freelance ‘cellist. He regularly records for advertisements and television and has appeared on BBC Radio 3, ITV and Channel Four. Colin has also worked as principle ‘cello for the London Felefilmonic Orchestra, London Contemporary Orchestra and the Symphony Orchestra of India. Having recently finished a commission for the Mercury Quartet, Colin has also twice written pieces for the London Contemporary Orchestra and the Marryat Players String Orchestra. Recent appearances as a ‘cellist have included Brahms’ Double Concerto at St James’ Piccadilly, various projects with the London Contemporary Orchestra Soloists, a number of chamber music concerts with the Gagliano Ensemble and performances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Rebecka Sofia Ahvenniemi is a Finnish composer living in Bergen, Norway. She specializes in voice and phonetics in music and works with concepts like breath and articulation in both vocal and instrumental sounds. She has also taken a degree in philosophy, where her master thesis concerned the truth concepts of Heidegger and Adorno and their relation to art. Ahvenniemi works with questions about language and music being able to critisize an idealism of the modern world: can music be critical to something itself consists of? Also, where do the arts and philosophy stand in the tradition of research?
Anette Haave Åsheim is a versatile composer and vocalist from Oslo, Norway. Anette received her musical training from an early age, learning conducting, listening and performing skills from her grandfather, the realness of blues and soul music from her mother and contemporary classical repertoire through singing with The Norwegian Girls’ Choir and The Norwegian Studio Choir where she was an active member for over a decade. She has a Bachelor of Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music where she received the Michael Kamen award for outstanding work and achievement in the Film Scoring Department. Today Anette is living in New York City where she works as a composer, vocalist and educator. In NYC she has worked at post-production house Big Yellow Duck and holds the title as In-house composer and editor for WBAI Radio FM 99.5. She has composed music for TV, Radio Dramas, jingles, art pieces, and music for theater and fashion shows both in Norway and the United States. Anette’s website.
Kristin Bolstad is a Norwegian composer, improviser, singer and electro-acoustic musician. Her works are often conceptual and with an improvisational and playful character, composed more from a practical than theoretical point of view. Kristin has composed several location-specific pieces for rooms such as a mausoleum, a swimming hall, and old closets, and at the time also for an old fish-oil tank. In addition to Master in Science of Music from the University of Oslo (thesis about intuitive composition), Kristin has also studied composition and live electronics at the Norwegian Academy of Music. Kristin’s interest and relations of other expressions in art such as improvisation in theatre and dance, and photography, shapes her picture of composing music into an idea of composing a whole – a concept where aural and visual elements complement and unite each other. Kristin’s music has been performed across Norway and in England, Spain, Denmark, Canada and USA. She has written pieces for performers as Jane Chapman, Mira Benjamin, Duo Hevans and Quatuor Bozzini. Kristin’s website.
Taylor Brook studied composition with Luc Brewaeys, Richard Carrick, Brian Cherney, and George Lewis. Taylor has also studied Hindustani musical performance in Kolkata, India, with Pandit Debashish Bhattacharya. Taylor writes concert music, music for video, and music for theater and dance. He has won many awards and prizes for his compositions, including the Coup de Coeur prize from the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne for his chamber orchestra work, Murder Ballad, the Lee Ettelson Award, and three SOCAN Young Composers awards, including a first prize for his solo violin work Vocalise. His music has been performed in North America and Europe by ensembles and soloists such as the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Quatour Bozzini, JACK quartet, and soloists such as Joshua Modney and Mira Benjamin. Taylor currently lives in New York where he is pursuing a doctorate in composition at Columbia University. Taylor’s website.
Isaiah Ceccarelli is a drummer, improviser, and composer based in Montréal. His music has been qualified as “one of the most original approaches to come through our offices in recent times” (Marc Chénard, La Scena Musicale) and he has been described as possessing “a writing style with rare personality in this musical context” (Thierry Lepin, Jazzman Magazine). He participates in numerous creative music projects with Michel F Côté, Pierre-Yves Martel, Lori Freedman, Jean Derome, Bernard Falaise, Joshua Zubot and Philippe Lauzier, amongst others. Proud ambassador of a new generation of creative musicians in Québec, his collaborations have led him on tour in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. Isaiah has composed music for two of his own albums, Bréviaire d’épuisements and Lieux-dits (both on the Ambiances Magnétiques label), and for ensembles and musicians such as Quatuor Bozzini, Ensemble Allogène, the violist Jennifer Thiessen, and Ensemble Kô. He sings with the Schola Saint-Grégoire (Gregorian chant). A seasoned musician and composer, Isaiah Ceccarelli is, in the words of Charles Collard from La Scena Musicale, “a jewel in the crown of the Montréal scene and his presence is felt on several fronts at the same time.” Isaiah’s website.
Beavan Flanagan is a composer from Montreal, Canada. His music, mostly acoustic and occasionally electronic, has been performed in Canada, The Netherlands (Gaudeamus Muziekweek), Norway (Oslo, nu:nord 2011) and the UK (Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Northern Breeze Mini-Festival), by ensembles and performers such as the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, Quatuor Bozzini and Canadian violinist Mira Benjamin. He currently lives in Huddersfield, UK, where is working towards a PhD at the University of Huddersfield, under the tutelage of Aaron Cassidy. Beavan’s website.
Tyler Futrell is an Oslo-based composer. Born 1983 in northern California, he studied with Bent Sørensen at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, Lee Hyla at the New England Conservatory, and Michael Jarrell at the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna. Tyler’s work has been performed by Bit20, Alpaca Ensemble, Det Norske Solistkor, Esbjerg Ensemble, Curious Chamber Players, 4 Elements, FMKNN, Aksiom ensemble, and the Zapolski, Sonar, and Bozzini string quartets, among others. He has also collaborated on multiple occasions each with director Margarida Paiva and choreographer Nuria Legarda. In 2003, Tyler was awarded the Japan Society of Boston’s Toru Takemitsu Prize for Composition, and is a member of the Norwegian Society of Composers. Since 2013, he has served as a board member of Ny Musikks Komponistgruppe. Tyler’s website.
David Stephen Grant (b. 1988, Carshalton, England) began his studies in composition at the Norwegian Academy of Music (NMH) in 2009 with Peter Tornquist and Bjørn Kruse. Here he also studied with Henrik Hellstenius and Helge Sten, and graduated in 2013 after studies with professor Asbjørn Schaathun. Grant has had works performed at festivals such as the Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival and the Music Technology Days Festival (NO), and besides his primary classical focus he has written music for dance and theatre productions, and worked in other fields of music ranging from heavy metal to pop and electronica. He has worked in close collaboration with a variety of musicians and ensembles, including the string quartet Quartetto Testosterone, percussionist Anders Kregnes Hansen, The Norwegian Wind Ensemble, the Munich International Orchestra (DE) and ReDo String Quartet (LV). Grant has been a board member of Young Nordic Music Norway (UNM – Ung Nordisk Musikk) since 2012, and is a member of nyMusikks Komponistgruppe (NMK). David’s website.
Brian Harman (b. 1981) is a Canadian composer, teacher and writer whose music has been described as “three-dimensional, maybe four-dimensional” (Arthur Kaptainis, The Gazette) and “effective and chilling” (Richard Todd, Ottawa Citizen). Harman’s music is frequently inspired by extra-musical elements, such as architecture, human speech, modern dance, technology and concepts of ritual. He has collaborated extensively with artists in other disciplines (performance artist Nina Arsenault, choreographer/dancer Geneviève Bolla, visual artist Danilo Ursini), and has written for a wide variety of media: orchestra, wind ensemble, choir, chamber ensembles, song cycle, opera, solo piano, theatre, modern dance, film and live electronics. Brian’s website.
Nick Hyatt is a franco-ontarian from the south-west: Windsor, On. He is a composer, pianist, artistic collaborator, community organizer and political history junky. He has spent the last four years working on collaborative new-music and multidisciplinary projects with composers David Lacalamita and Jake Paleczny, curators Steve Ferrara and Lisa Martin of Well and Good (Toronto), and fashion designer Christian l’Enfant Roi (Montreal). He is currently doing linguistic research on the variety of French spoken in his hometown, with plans to integrate the findings into future compositions. Nick’s website.
John Lely is a London-based composer, musician and curator, working primarily in experimental and electronic music. He often collaborates with various musicians and groups, including Apartment House, the Bozzini Quartet, Angharad Davies, Rhodri Davies, edges, Pedro Gomez-Egaña, Seth Kim-Cohen, Sebastian Lexer, Ross Parfitt, Michael Parsons, the Post Quartet, Michael Pisaro, Taylan Susam, Philip Thomas, Manfred Werder, John White and Seymour Wright. He has curated and performed in concerts of music by such composers as Martin Arnold, Antoine Beuger, Cornelius Cardew, Philip Corner, Laurence Crane, Jürg Frey, Michael Pisaro, Tom Johnson, Alvin Lucier, Chris Newman and Christian Wolff. Alongside composers Tim Parkinson and Markus Trunk, he curates the Music We’d Like to Hear concert series, described by Tempo magazine as ‘an oasis of thoughtful and idealistic music-making’ (Tempo, October 2006). He is co-author, with James Saunders, of Word Events: Perspectives on Verbal Notation (Continuum 2012). John’s website.
Composer Cassandra Miller (1976) is a Canadian composer based in Montreal. In 2011, she received the Jules-Léger Prize for New Chamber Music for her composition Bel Canto. Composition teachers included Christopher Butterfield (University of Victoria), Richard Ayres and Yannis Kyriakides (Royal Conservatory of the Hague), and Michael Finnissy (private study 2012). Cassandra’s website.
Luke Nickel is a Canadian composer currently based in the UK, where he is working toward a PhD at Bath Spa University. Luke’s website.
Born in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Amber Priestley has lived in the U.K. since 1991. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Sussex, and her doctorate in composition at the University of York. Some recent performances include: Then You Are In Clover (Queens’ College, Cambridge commission); Such Nights I Get All The Free Margins (Damien Harron/spnm commission); If you really loved me, you’d stop playing that piano and listen to me (Claudia Molitor commission); and And Yet Something Shines, Something Sings in that Silence (Bozzini Quartet, Composer’s Kitchen 2013). The majority of her work deals directly with musicians performing both music and theatre. Some of this forms a very small portion of the performance (for example, choreographed page turns) or a fundamental portion of the performance (such as where the music is the least important element, with the focus on the various movements of the musicians). Amber is particularly fascinated by the visual aspect of a completed score, especially simple but elegant staves which are, in fact, stripes! She finds these stripes to be æsthetically pleasing and add to the joy of composition. Amber’s website.
Clemet Rotevatn – Norwegian composer, recently completed bachelor degree in composition at the Norwegian Academy of Music with Olav Anton Thommessen and Henrik Hellstenius as tutors. The most important musical focus for the last years has been acoustic instrumental music, although other areas include film music, electronic music, and metal. Participated at the PROCESS workshop in Lithuania in 2012, and UNM festival in Helsinki, 2010. Attended film music seminar in London, 2008. Chosen to attend the UNM festival in Oslo 2013, and the nu:nord project in 2013 and 2014. Cooperated with the Helsinki Chamber Choir, the Norwegian Wind Ensemble, the ReDo string quartet, Daniel Paulsen, and Maria Badstue among others. Written music for several film projects, including the award-winning short film “Amor” which has been shown numerous places in Europe and on Norwegian state television. Clemet’s website.
Japanese/Canadian composer Hiroki Tsurumoto is a co-founder of a music ensemble ∆TENT in Toronto, Canada. Hiroki’s music, Code Thumbnails series, is inspired by graphic design elements, in particular, typographic systems and html colour codes. As a marathon runner, his new series, Cursor, will feature various aspects of ‘running’. His music has been performed in the U.S., Japan, Czech Republic, Brazil, Australia, and Canada including Ostrava Days and ISCM World Music Days. Hiroki studied Economics, Graphic Design, and Music Composition in Tokyo, NYC and Toronto. His composition teachers included Amnon Wolman, Tania León, Ka Nin Chan, and James Rolfe. He also participated in music festivals and composition workshops such as Acanthes-IRCAM Summer Academy (France), Aventa Composers Workshop “IgNITE!” (Victoria), International Symposium of New Music and Computer Music (Curitiba, Brazil), International Workshop for Young Composers (Latvia), and nu:nord (Montreal). Hiroki’s website.
Huw Webb is an artist from the UK whose interest in nearly everything has led to a practise that’s one big tangled interdisciplinary mess. Frequently tongue in cheek, subversive, absurd and political at its joyous heart, Huw’s work focusses heavily on the processes of art and of social interaction, through an antagonistic dialectal lens, designed to help us empower ourselves to actively engage with our own lives and the systems of society, working for collective growth and implementing change that improves the lives of all. A key part of Huw’s research is a in-depth re-examination of the indeterminate score as a liminal forum for shared responsibility/culpability and collaborative creation, communicating four dimensional performance ideas in 3D and 4D scores. Elsewhere his work focuses on ideas of mischief, public performance, invisible theatre, street training, civil disobedience, fluxus, adventures, sharing food, clowning, buffoonery, games and, perhaps most importantly, play. Huw graduated from Dartington College of Arts with a first class honours degree in music composition and visual arts in 2010, held a three month residency at the Banff Centre, Canada in 2012 and is currently an MFA candidate at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, studying under Steven Hill. His ensemble ‘Some Cartographers’ are releasing music with Lynched Recordings and his collaboration with Clint Sleeper (Sex Detectives DUH!)have upcoming tours in the US and Europe in 2014 . Huw considers tea to be the crowning achievement of human endeavour and will gladly accept packages and invitations to tea dates from strangers. Huw’s website.