Andrus Kallastu’s Multimedia Work Performed at the Nordic Music Days in Iceland

Composer Andrus Kallastu‘s multimedia work ATEMLOS can be heard in the programme of the most important Nordic contemporary music festival Nordic Music Days. The performance takes place on the opening day of the festival, on 6 October 2011 in brand new Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik, Iceland. Hopefully, the performance of Kallastu’s work marks the beginning of a long-term co-operation between Estonian Composers’ Union, which is an organiser of the festival Estonian Music Days, and Nordic Music Days.

Nordic Music Days, which traditionally presents the most recent music, is one of the oldest music festivals in the world. The festival was initiated by the top musicians of the five Nordic countries in 1888. Today, the festival is annually hosted by different Nordic country and its Composers’ Union, the general planning is conducted by Nordic Composers Council.

This year, the artistic director of the festival, which will take place on 6–9 October in Reykjavik, is Pétur Jónasson. In 2012, the festival will be held in Stockholm and Estonian Music Days have been discussing for some time the possibilities for co-operation with its artistic director Catharina Backman as well. In March, the artistic director of NMD Catharina Backman and the representative of Nordic Composers Council Stina Lyles visited the concerts of Tallinn Music Week and Estonian Music Days. Both of them confirmed a special interest in Estonian contemporary music and its presentation at the Nordic Music Days.

Composer Andrus Kallastu has explained how the work ATEMLOS was born: “In the spring of 2000, I completed my Stabat Mater for electronics and during the composition process, I took the singer’s breath out of it. Instead of deleting this part I got the idea for a new work. The story of a woman with an enmeshed life started to revolve in me. I immediately found the work a German title ATEMLOS, which could be translated and interpreted as unable to breathe.”

“Initially, I planned a chamber opera, performed in electronic environment,” Kallastu recalls. “After thinking a year and a half, visual artist Haide Rannakivi joined the project. Haide made several photo series using models, finally we mounted a video that I would call a photo series that is extended in time. When mounting images and image sequences, we used the same structural principles to divide time as I did when mounting musical material.”

The work ATEMLOS was premièred in the autumn of 2005 during the residency in Paris, when Andrus Kallastu was asked to introduce one of his works. For practical reasons, the idea to use a separate actor/singer was abandoned and Rein Laos, who initially was the stage director of the project, became an actor as well. After the première in Paris, the work has been performed in Pärnu, Estonia, and Helsinki, Finland. Haide Rannakivi has compiled several exhibitions of the photographs and video component that form the basis of the work.

The programme of Nordic Music Days 2011 also includes works by Páll Ragnar Pálsson and Mirjam Tally. One of them belongs to the Society of Icelandic Composers and other to the Society of Swedish Composers.

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