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Jan Erik Mikalsen wins International Rostrum of Composers

By Tomas Lauvland Pettersen Posted: 18. May, 2015

Jan Erik Mikalsen (photo: Eirik Slyngstad)

Composer Jan Erik Mikalsen’s work ‘Songr for Orchestra’ wins the 62nd International Rostrum of Composers (IRC) in the general category.

A major accomplishment for composer Jan Erik Mikalsen: his work ‘Songr for Orchestra’ wins the International Rostrum of Composers in Tallinn.

‘Songr for Orchestra’ (2014) was selected by radio music producers participating in the 62nd International Rostrum of Composers (IRC) held in Tallinn, from May 12 to 15, 2015. A flagship programme of the International Music Council, this year’s IRC edition was for the first time in the history of the IRC co-organised by Estonian Public Broadcasting in the framework of a Creative Europe co-funded project named Rostrum+.

‘Songr for Orchestra’ was commissioned and world premiered by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra the 30th of October 2014 in Oslo. Says Mikalsen on the work: – The essence of the piece is to try combining all of Norway’s history with an old Norse title (Songr means song), nature sounds, the open fifth, folk music and melodic elements and repetitive (that might represent today). I also wanted to bring in Indian harmonium witch was exported from the west to India. This I do without actually using real folk music melodies, but rather using elements that resemble folk music.

An international forum of representatives from broadcasting organizations, the Rostrum’s purpose is to exchange and broadcast contemporary art music. The forum was initiated in 1954 by French Radio and Television, Radio Frankfurt, Belgian Radio and Television, and Swiss Radio and Television. Since 2003, it has been held around Europe in every second year and this time, Estonia’s ERR was the host.

Currently, over 30 national radio networks participate in the rostrum presenting some 60 works composed within the five years preceding the forum. After the listening sessions, the assembly of delegates select and recommend the most important works in two categories: general and young composers. These and other works will be presented in concerts and broadcast after the rostrum by the participating and other interested radio stations.
Former Norwegian winners include Gisle Kverndokk (1993) Rolf Wallin (1999) and Maja Ratkje (1999).

Intro Composer 2014-16

Mikalsen is Music Norway’s Intro Composer 2014-16 – the organisation’s launch programme for young composers.

INTRO Composer is a Music Norway administered launch/promotional programme in which a composer is given priority and extra funding over a three year period. The programme is staged in partnership with nyMusikk, Ultima and the Norwegian Society of Composers and is supported financially by Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Born in 1979 in Kristiansund on the western coast of Norway, Jan Erik Mikalsen has built up a reputation within Norway for inventive and dynamic compositions that have been commissioned by such major institutions as the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and performed by at festivals such as the Nordic Music Days, Radio France’s Festivale Présences and New York’s Performa 13 (with artist Tori Wrånes). In 2013, Jan Erik’s Parts II for Orchestra was the winner of the prestigious Edvard Prize for the best contemporary music composition.

Jan Erik’s orchestral writing has a visceral power. Works such as his 15-minute Parts for Orchestra (2009) or the Wagner Prelude (2013) display a magisterial capacity to score complex themes and levels of instrumental material. Short and intense, the Wagner Prelude quotes a leitmotif from the beginning of Wagner’s Das Rheingold and manipulates it into a spiral of instrumental sound.