a history of unity in difference
Nordiska musikdagarna – Nordic Music Days – are a place in which borders fade, similarity and diversity mingle, and where tradition and innovation happily coexist. This is perhaps unavoidable in a festival that is simultaneously young at heart – dedicated to the most recent new music – and surprisingly old, boasting a lifespan of 130 years.
Yet the history of Nordic Music Days is intimately bound-up in, and developed directly from, an even earlier history of collaborative music-making in the Nordic countries that found kinship by exploring their distinctive identities and celebrating their shared goals and passions. Of cially beginning life in Copenhagen in 1888, Nordic Music Days has since been shared, year by year, among the Nordic capitals. Its location may be itinerant, yet the commitment to join together and embrace differences in contemporary musical thought and practice remains central to Nordic Music Days’ outlook and mission.
The festival is overseen by the Council of Nordic Composers, an organisation founded in 1947 that represents the interests of composers in all elds of music throughout the Nordic countries. Each year, one of the council’s members arranges Nordic Music Days with Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Faroese and Icelandic music – instrumental, electronic, electroacoustic and sound art – sitting side by side on stage as brothers and sisters in arms.
The presence of Nordic Music Days in London marks only the second occasion when it has stepped beyond the Nordic states. In every sense, it is a departure, and a significant one, extending its collaborative outlook to forge a new dialogue with British performers and audiences. At a time when it seems the world has become more focused than ever on disagreements and divisions, Nordic Music Days continues to shine a (northern) light on the value and imperative of embracing our differences and thereby discovering unity.