Martin Ødegaard is a Norwegian composer. He is coming to Bodø with a world premiere, commissioned by the festival. His new work, Moments of Truth, will be performed by Esbjerg Ensemble.
Martin Ødegaard has studies in folk-music at Telemark university college with Anne Gravir and Sondre Bratland as mentors and studies in composition at the Norwegian Academy of music with Bjørn Kruse, Henrik Hellstenius and Lasse Thoresen as his main mentors.
His concert music has been performed by ensembles like; Oslo Sinfonietta, Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen, The Norwegian radio orchestra, Aksiom, Current saxophone quartet, Telemark messingensemble, Schola cantorum, The Norwegian soloist choir, Ensemble 96, Uranienborg vocal ensemble, The Norwegian youth choir, and Oslo Domkor among others.
To write new music with authentic folk-elements into contemporary sound-images has been a main focus in works as; ”Maria” and ”Concerto for hardangerfiddle and sinfonietta”.
This concept has led to several collaborations with excellent folk- musicians like; Unni Løvlid, Berit Opheim, Vegar Vårdal and Aasmund Nordstoga.
Another concept that has been present in works as; “KOMM”, “Paraphrase”, “Maria” and “Readings of Schoenberg” is to use music by other composers as a starting point, for further development of ideas and for composing possible complex musical situations. To take advantage of some “original” musical materials references, stretched into different directions, projected into a new palette of sounds, is often quite powerful, and might give the listener an intense and grasping experience.
You got a commission from the festival, to write a new piece for Esbjerg Ensemble. What was your approach to this commission, and what do you want us to listen for?
Airplanes, stories, and sacred chorals..
No.., I first came up with the title; Moments of truth (witch later gave me some problems).. Is it possible to make the listener experience one (or more) moments of truth, while listening to a piece of music? This was a question I thought a lot about while working on this piece. One thing I wanted to explore when writing for this ensemble, was to take advantage of the many nationalities of the musicians of the ensemble. So, I wanted to hear their different voices and languages, even though this is an “instrumental” piece.
Where do you find the ideas that get you started? What inspires you?
When I am starting the first phase of composing a piece, I try to imagine the first essential sound objects or situations that I feel this specific piece should contain, to express my main intentions. This could come quite easy for me if I visualize the musicians, on a stage, playing my piece. So the actual occasion inspires me, to some extent. Besides this, I often find much inspiration in everyday sounds and natural phenomena. Witch, I abstract and rewrite for the given instrumentation, or use as a starting point for developing some main directions on different musical or conceptual levels, to frame and clarify my compositional process.
Is music, often wordless, freer than other art forms? Any thoughts on this?
Since music and sounds are an abstract way of communication, you could say that it is quite free, in the sense that the meaning can be different for each listener. All art forms have different ways of communicating an expression or an idea, and the degrees of freedom or openness will greatly vary from piece to piece, and from listener to listener. I think music has many possibilities to freely move between different degrees of abstraction, for example by including some text or musical references that the listener may or may not have some relationship to. In my music, I try to include the possibilities of interaction with the listener’s references and memories, in the most open way possible. Of course, there is no right and wrong way of experiencing art. I resonate with Stravinsky’s quote; “My music is best understood by children and animals..”