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The ISCM World Music Days in Stockholm 1994 - A commentary report - Fritz Muggler

 

 

The ISCM World Music Days in Stockholm 1994

A commentary report

by Fritz Muggler

The 68th World Music Days, which lasted for 8 days and took place mostly within the centre of Stockholm, were excellently organized: beginning with the transfer from the airport and the checking-in at the Amaranten Hotel, continuing with the punctual begin of the concerts, the functioning bus transportation when necessary, and ending with the tranfer to the airport. The programme comprised 21 concerts, regularly distributed with a daily lunch concert, a (sometimes symphonic) concert in the evening and a night event (some in unconventional locations); the Opening Concert on Saturday was in the VASA Museum, the Saturday afternoon concert at the end in the Main Auditorium of the Concert Hall. The programme proceeded practically without mishaps. The concerts were without exception very well visited, showing that in Sweden the reception of contemporary music has a well-founded tradition. The audience was pleasantly mixed with respect to age. As a rule the concerts were free of charge, though the tickets had to be procured in advance.

"World Music"

The WMD in Stockholm showed as hardly ever before that it is possible to make a - from the artistic point of view - meaningful programme from the works selected by the jury, which included compositions from all parts of the world and thus also borderline works. The compositions were combined with a view to showing similarities and contrasts; in particular the works of the modern classics (Busoni, Fartein Valen, Jan cek, Var`.se, Strawinsky, Ruggles, Dalapiccola, Webern, Ginastera, Pousseur, Berio, Ligety), which were interspersed in the concerts, always had a reference to the surrounding compositions; works with concrete reference to older material were in this sense of particular interest (Asbj"rn Schaathun to Strawinsky, Brian Ferneyhough to Var`.se, Sten Melin to Carl Ruggles and Alberto Ginastera). The large diversity of trends and aesthetic positions, notwithstanding the qualitative differences, was outstanding, so that a definite worldwide or even European trend could barely be discerned. In other words: the danger of worldwide uniform "Weltmusik" can no longer be found in the present-day polystylistic situation.

Interpreters

As a rule the interpreters were Swedish musicians except for a few outside celebrities (Pierre-Yves Artaud, flute, Mieko Kanno, violin, Japan, Isabelle Magnenat, violin and Olivier Cuendet, conductor, Switserland). The quality of the interpretations was almost without exception very high.

Programme Information

The programme book was clearly arranged and handy and had almost no mistakes except that some important information was lacking, such as scoring (e.g. "for orchestra and choir", "for string quartet, "for 11 instrumentalists" etc.) and the year of composition (in some cases the information could be gathered with some pain from the Commentary). Mostly the texts of the songs, important for the understanding, were missing (they were not distributed later in the concerts). But the use of the programme book and the very useful commentaries was rendered impossible by the bad lighting; during the performance the light was completely extinguished, and particularly in the Stockholm Cultural Centre the situation was similar to that in a cinema show: the musicians in front sat in dazzling brightness, as in the show business; in the intermissions the lighting was continually manipulated but without respecting the audience.

The hosting nation

Unfortunately no musical impression of the country of Sweden was gained: folklore, though not jazz, was excluded from the programme. Acquaintance with the town of Stockholm was made by the different concert locations, including a few museums ( Vasa Museum, Music Museum, Fylkingen). The Sunday boat excursion to Drottningholm in the surroundings of Stockholm, with sunny weather, was very good and served admirably in promoting social contacts.

 

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