"Over the years other British artists have motivated how I work and what I produce."
Faroese dancer and choreographer Kristina Sørensen Ougaard
What is Nordic Matters?
Over the course of 2017, London’s Southbank Centre will be inviting audiences to look more closely at what’s happening in Nordic art and culture. The programme for Nordic Matters will embed Nordic culture and artists in London and other parts of the UK and provide a platform to some of the ‘hidden voices’ from Åland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, as well as Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. This is the first time that Southbank Centre has programmed a year-long festival dedicated to one region of the world. It is expected that around a third of artists, authors and performers participating in events at Southbank Centre during 2017 will come from the Nordic region.
Denmark and the Faroe Islands in the UK: Inspiring the work of Kristina Sørensen Ougaard
Originally from the Faroe Islands and now based in Copenhagen, Kristina Sørensen Ougaard is a dancer, choreographer and actress. She was recently chosen by the Southbank Centre to participate in the Nordic Matters ‘Collision’ project which this year brought together artists from the UK and artists from the Nordic countries for a week-long residency. Kristina explains what drew her to Britain, how the UK has inspired her practice over time, and how she enjoyed working with the British-Gibraltan artist, Alan Perez.
"When I decided that I wanted to become a dancer I decided to go to London. I was told that London had some of the best dance schools and an exciting choreographic scene. I was so lucky that I got accepted at The Place, London Contemporary Dance School. During my time at The Place I would go to the theatre almost every night. Seeing so many different things taught me an awful lot and has probably shaped me as an artist.
One of the British artists or groups which I find very exiting is the work of the theatre group ‘Complicite’. I remember very clearly the first time I saw one of their productions. It was ‘The Elephant Vanishes’ at The Barbican in 2003. I was in my first year at The Place and I was completely mesmerised. That was probably the first time I saw that kind of theatre. I was so inspired by the way they used all the elements in theatre and incorporated them in the storytelling: the sounds; the movements; the scenography; the props; the actors – in fact, everything. I love the way they work with props and transform them from being one thing to becoming something else altogether. It’s amazing how they can take us from one place in time to another by using all these different elements. They create beautiful images on stage. All this has very much influenced the way I approach my own work.
Over the years other British artists have motivated how I work and what I produce. I deeply admire Akram Khan, David Bowie, Anish Kapoor, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Sue Hill, just to mention a few! And now I am equally enthused by all the amazing British artists that I met at Collision in South Bank. That was a very inspiring meeting for me."
SPOTLIGHT ON DENMARK
See below for additional acts from Denmark who will be featured as part of the Nordic Matters festival.
SPRING HIGHLIGHTS: FOCUS ON MUSIC
Bent Sørensen: Introducing new Danish music to Britain’s ears
On the 6th April, the music of the great Danish composer Bent Sørensen will be performed in London by players from the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Southbank Centre. The concert forms part of Nordic Matters, and will introduce to Britain a composer whose work is little known outside of his native country and specialist circles. Since 2008, however, he has been a visiting professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Sørensen studied composition with Ib Nørholm at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and with Per Nørgård at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus. His mature works are said to create a sense of decay and beauty by treating major and minor tonalities with microtonal inflections and blurring the harmonies with glissandi. Examples of this technique can be found in his trombone concerto Birds and Bells, a work for orchestra and choir, as well as Echoing Garden and his violin concerto Sterbende Gärten, for which Sørensen won the prestigious Nordic Music Prize in 1996. Compositions are predominantly contemporary in language, albeit using a variety of mediums from opera (Under the Sky was premiered in 2004 at the Royal Opera House in Copenhagen), orchestra, choir, chamber ensemble and solo instruments. Echoes of folk song can also be detected in his early works.
Southbank audiences will hear the brilliant and labyrinthine Minnelieder, the nocturnal and wistful Weeping White Room, and the classic The Deserted Churchyards, which has been described by composer Karl Aage Rasmussen as "a flickering, glittering world ... pervaded with memories, wisdom of experience and old dreams."
OTHER DANISH WORKS AT NORDIC MATTERS
Lego Build the Change: Meet the Master Builders
This event allowed people to discover how LEGO® Master Builders turned their passion into a profession. Highlights included exciting stories of LEGO Certified Professionals, who have turned their love for building and creating with LEGO bricks into a career. Audience members also helped to create of a Nordic-inspired mosaic.
Debate: How do you say "gender equality" in Faroese?
Pioneering artists and cultural activists discussed the unfinished business of gender equality. From being the first countries to give women the right to vote, to pioneering paternity leave, Nordic countries have produced many landmark achievements on the road to gender equality. But is there still more to be done?
My Friend Manna
This workshop featured published children’s author Bolatta Silis-Høegh. Born in Southern Greenland in 1981, the part-Greenlandic, part-Latvian artist now lives and works in Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen. Bolatta debuted as an author in 2011, publishing her first children’s book, Aima, which she wrote and illustrated. The follow-up, Aima Shush! was published in June 2014.
Andreas Tophøj and Rune Barslund
An array of captivating tunes from two leading folk musicians. Andreas Tophøj and Rune Barslund performed a unique concert with violin, accordion and viola. The two Danes emerged from the folk scene formed arond the Academy of Music in Odense, and their sound is closely linked to Danish folk tradition.
Hans Christian Andersen, You Must Be An Angel
All your fairytale favourites came together for a dinner like no other. A long table was set for Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday party and two waiters experienced the job of their life: to wait on a table of fantastic personalities.