Klang translates as sound or timbre, and sounds and timbres are at the heart of KLANG – the Copenhagen Avant-garde Music Festival, which consists of 17 different concerts and events spread out over a week from May 25 to June 1. Formerly known as the Athelas New Music Festival, the festival is now in its fifth year, and the 2013 edition will be more experimental than ever.
“At KLANG you will hear the music of tomorrow,” the festival’s PR co-ordinator Sophie Sales Carlsen explains. “We are focusing on upcoming and cutting-edge artists this year, and everybody has been given free rein, so there will be a lot of experimenting and crossovers between different art forms and subjects.” Although the performances will revolve around music in one way or the other, there may well be elements of visual art, electronics, maths and physics involved as well, as there are a lot of conceptual works on the programme.
You do not have to be a musical genius, however, or be up to date on the latest trends within the world of avant-garde music to enjoy and appreciate the performances. “There are no experts beforehand,” says Carlsen. “There will be a lot of playing around with norms and traditions, and there will be a lot of improvisation and first performances. So forget about traditional classical concerts; there will be no red velvet, suits or long gala dresses, and you don’t have to know everything about the music in advance.”
Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen
True to tradition the festival opens with a concert by Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen, Denmark’s leading new music ensemble, which will perform a highly contrasting programme of music by some of Europe’s most promising young composers. Be prepared for moments of intense beauty, silence, shocks, unrestrained dystopian noise, as well as electronic sounds controlled by sensors attached to the conductor’s arms as the ensemble navigates through four very varied pieces, of which two are Danish premieres and one is a world premiere.
Artists and composers from abroad will also attend the festival. The best-known of these is the progressive German ensemble Recherche, which will perform a commissioned piece by the Danish composer Nicolai Worsaae.
Also among the international visitors is the reputable Japanese multi-artist Ryoji Ikeda. Through a real-time computer programme, Ikeda will convert audio signal patterns into an ultra-fast stream of synchronised barcode patterns on a screen. This audio-visual work is called Test Patterns.
On Monday, Decoder (ensemble für aktuelle music) – the latest musical venture from Hamburg – visits the festival. The ensemble is on the verge of an international breakthrough and will be performing five unusual works where anything from electronic noise and digital manipulations to caricatured vocal, abrupt word games, peculiar sound objects and synced choreography will be on the menu.
If you would like to get involved in the festival a bit more than simply being a member of the audience, you will get a chance on Sunday by taking part in the performance of the work Alnitak. In the hours prior to this world premiere, amateur musicians who have signed up will be given an old music box or accordion and instructed in how to play it by the two composers Frode Andersen and Jexper Holmen. The piece will be finalised through this process and the actual performance of it will take place at Republique at 3pm.
Most nights, after the last performance, the Danish composer and inventor of new instruments Lars Kynde will be building on his homemade composition machine through which the structures of music are created and visualised simultaneously. This wacky construction will be developed in several steps during the festival, and you can witness the progress free of charge at the festival café.
To see the full programme, visit www.klang.dk. Tickets are available from www.republique.dk, but can also be purchased at the door.
KLANG – Copenhagen Avant-garde Music Festival
Republique, Østerfælled Torv 34, Cph Ø
starts Sat, ends June 1
Tickets: 60kr per concert,
225kr for festival pass