The Ultima festival estimates that a 1.500 persons saw and heard the 12 hour performance Organotopia, in Paulus church and Birkelunden park, on September 17.
You can read more on the project as a whole on organotopia.no
Organotopia is both a social event, a scenographic installation and a concert. Here is how it is described as a composition - in the preface to the score:
Organotopia is Nils Henrik Asheim's organ universe.
It is also a collaborative work of art with many contributors and participants.
About the music of Organotopia one could say that is a library of ideas and influences. At the same time, a laboratory of creation.
It reflects Nils Henrik Asheim's ongoing practice over many years, of questioning and redefining the organ's identity by researching its sound, combining multiple organ-related instruments, inventing cross-disciplinary staging concepts around the organ, and working with classical repertoire as shared goods.
Organotopia aims to show that all can be rebuilt, that the musical heritage is there to be used with love, responsability and total freedom.
The performance is divided in 12 hours, each with its own musical concept based on one specific composer or tradition. The classical material is dismantled and rebuilt, following various methods.
Some of the composers that are borrowed from, are among the great names in the organ repertoire. Others are chosen because the author (NHA) has a relation or personal story with their music. Others again have been proposed by external people after inquiries on social media.
The composition is written as a fixed structure with a lot of open fields for improvisation. The orchestration includes pipe organs of different sizes, electric organs, synthesizers, harmonium and accordion. The creative input from the keyboard players will be important for the final result.
After about 40 minutes of each hour a vocalist infiltrates the music with his/her voice, bringing in material related to her own tradition and personal story.
Organotopia is basically an immersive, spatial experience for the people that are present in the room. The composition emerges from the surround situation, with musicians in spread positions on floor and galleries. The listener becomes an active participant by chosing position, moving in and out of the church space.
The experience continues outdoors. In the park, the concert is transferred as a real-time remix to several loudspeaker zones. The remix is a musical reworking by Øyvind Brandtsegg, meant to transplantate the organ sound into the soundscape of the city.
THE 12 HOURS OF MUSIC:
12:00 In the beginning
The day starts in Paulus Church, introducing us to the space and the instruments.
13:00 Eye of the Chorale
Hymns played on the organ over hundreds of years are performed according to new rules and games.
14:00 Neighbours to Mozart
A selection of scenarios from the Mozart apartment building
15:00 Electric Organ Picnic
A tribute to the heroes of the electric organ’s heyday.
16:00 Grieg In a Landscape
The harmony from Edvard Grieg's eight Haugtussa songs (The Mountain Maid), replanted in songs evoking landscape and nature.
17:00 Passacaglia Wanderings
The bassline that supports J.S. Bach’s Passacaglia leads us into a maze where every choice of which way to turn is linked to a route on a map.
18:00 Schubert Characters
12 characters borrowed from Franz Schubert's music try to introduce themselves to each other in pairs.
19:00 Toccata Façades
Four of J.S.Bach's organ Toccatas interpreted as analogies to buildings
20:00 Widor’s Industries
Themes from Charles-Marie Widor's Organ Symphony No 6 turn into noisy, spinning, throbbing machine parts.
21:00 Escape of the Fugue
Now it’s time to liberate the Fugue from its strict boundaries. A series of fugue subjects from various composers are converted into curves and abstract forms.
22:00 Wagner’s Fountain
Excerpts from the operas Tristan and Isolde, Parsifal and Tannhaüser flow together in a sound bath that Richard Wagner could only dream of.
23:00 Summing Up
We end where we started: back in Paulus Church.
Explore each section in detail here: organotopia.no/musikken/Komposisjon
(Click EN for English text)
— Simon Cummings, 5against4, 2022-09-29 ↗
...Asheim’s conception created not merely a soundscape but a fully immersive sound world that, for its duration, defined both the nature and the limits of music within that world. As such, the vocalists became literal mouthpieces, ambassadors perhaps, communicating with us in a variety of alien tongues (reinforced by never using obviously tangible words) though all too human emotional impulses