Praeludium – Connect 2016
ou could say that every time a musical piece is being played, it’s being reborn. I think that’s a rather joyous thought. This year we wanted to focus on the positive powers of music, since we hear many negative voices today that claim that art music(1) has no future, that it only makes sense to its own creators and to a small circle of connoisseurs. I don’t believe that, and I would say that art music is more alive than ever. Experimental music has always been an underground movement, from Gesualdos private vocal group performing his music in his own bedroom to the experiments in Darmstadt in the forties to IRCAM(2) today. Every year at least one specialized new music ensemble pops up somewhere in the world, and witnessing the world premiere of a new opera seems like a hip thing to do. I don’t believe either that everything has already been done, and that nothing is possible and that all that’s left is a pile of fragments, historical debris and rests of yesterday. I hold that for a lazy, self-indulgent and vain statement. What I do believe is that this music has meaning and relevance. What makes it important (along with other genuine artistic creations) is that it offers something different. It’s not something you easily digest or something that keeps you hooked as a means of squeezing you on more time and money; it’s posing questions, it contains ambivalence and propositions. That’s also what makes it human. In this way, it forces you to reflect, consider and also question your own aesthetic ideals and thoughts. That’s also how art builds up your immune system, your armor against the bombardment of hysterical publicity and the consumption of useless products packaged, promoted and sold as art objects.
On Connect’s last event this year, we explore our festival theme with the help of music from the renaissance, an age that was full of inventions. Monteverdi, for example, made artful use of popular dances and songs, dissonances were embraced, and a general openness and willingness to experiment prevailed. I think the attitude is somewhat similar today. There’s still a large amount of conventions and norms, which still makes it possible to challenge perceptional habitual patterns. Boulez and Messiaen threw an eye at the iso-rhythmical motets(3) of the middle ages when they separated rhythm organization from pitch organization. In the same way could we today by creatively processing issues and through inquisitive analysis rephrase musical principles and sculpture our music into something strong, meaningful and valid.
Jonatan Sersam, Chairman of Tongeneration(4)
(1) The genre has many unsatisfying names, “contemporary music”, ”modern music” or “new music”. I will here call it art music in lack of a better alternative.
(2) IRCAM - Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique, is an important centre of music research in Paris that gives concerts and lectures.
(3) A musical principle exercised mainly by the Flemish composers in the middle ages, where pitch and rhythm are severely organized in different systems, called Color and Talea.
(4) Tongeneration is a non-profit organization that arranges art music events such as the Connect festival in the Malmö region.