I am admittedly not the biggest fan of modern day classical music and as we are walking into the hall of Eldborg, I feel a tad nervous about what is to come. I had a rather bizarre experience on our last trip to Eldborg with the Tónleikasókn course, so I honestly did not expect much.
The first piece played tonight, composed by Kjartan Ólafsson, pleasantly surprises me. The piece bears the name Mar and is a kind of homage to the ocean. Kjartan uses a quite literal approach to waves and motions of the sea. However, this piece is the one I enjoy the most from this evening and I believe the literacy is the reason why. Using various instruments within the orchestra, Kjartan accomplishes a simple, yet compelling, sound of the sea. The string section, the violins especially, make a convincing sound of waves gathering, rising higher and then collapsing into themselves.
Modern day classical music seems to be always searching for something new, a way to stand out from the crowd and be different, f.x. using egg cutters as an instrument in your piece or making the percussion rip a sheet of paper. The brilliant mind of Kjartan Ólafsson looks past that and sought inspiration to Sibelius and Finnish music culture. He describes the different moods of the ocean with such brilliancy and even in the slowest, most melodic passages of the piece, you always feel the threat and endlessness of the ocean underneath.
The simple but effective method has never let us down. Although I have spoken a great deal about the simplicity of the piece, it is far from being boring and speaking with the composer himself, he tells us to listen specifically for the last sound of the piece: „The last chord is a question I myself don’t have the answer to.” There, he has inserted a little bit of himself into the music, for the ocean is as endless and deep as the mind of a human and there no way of finding all answers.