Maja S. K. Ratkje
Maja S. K. Ratkje has been honing her singular, interconnected performing and composing styles for more than twenty years. The process has placed her at the forefront of the musical avant-garde. Despite its boldness and originality, her music is meant for sharing. At its heart lies Ratkje’s own voice, an open door to her individual musicianship and a constant tool for realigning her work with natural expressions and human truths.
Ratkje has collaborated with artists of various disciplines since the 1990s when she sang jazz, played the piano, joined a Gamelan group and co-founded the Oslo Industrial Ensemble. In 1997, she had mapped out the overtone spectrum produced by the lowest note playable on a tenor saxophone. A work based on the strongest 29 notes of the spectrum, Sinus Seduction (1997), became a foundation stone on which a series of landmark works were built under the collective title Moods.
She started working with the percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love and joined the experimental ensemble SPUNK as a vocalist, a move that would have a lasting impact on her day-to-day performing and composing. Her performances in SPUNK moved her to explore her own voice; how it might influence the act of composing and, in turn, further interact with those ideas about tone colour. In 2002 she released the album Voice, a catalogue of previously unexplored vocal production techniques fused with electronics that was awarded the Prix Ars Electronica.
In 2012 she was featured as Composer-In-Residence at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, where her work for three choirs and noise musicians Crepuscular Hour (2010) was given its UK premiere. Her music frequently involves stark contrasts, more often in the delivery of balance and kinetic action than to create shock or effect.
While many of Ratkje’s scores are notated, many stretch beyond the confines of traditional notation in aspiring to both greater precision and greater liberation. Many ask performers to improvise or produce material themselves.
Ratkje has contributed to well more than 130 albums and has written music for dance, radio plays and gallery installations. She is a ember of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, was the inaugural winner of the Arne Nordheim Prize and was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize in 2013.
The Icelandic ensemble Nordic Affect has been hailed as ‘multi-disciplinary force of nature’ (A Closer Listen). In 2013 the ensemble was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize and was named Performer of the Year at the Iceland Music Awards in 2014.
Founded in 2005, Nordic was formed by a group of period instrument musicians who were united in their passion for viewing familiar musical forms from a different perspective and for daring to venture into new musical terrain. Its members have individually performed and recorded with artists and groups such as Concerto Copenhagen, The Six Tones, Anima Eterna Brugge and Björk.
Believing that music knows no boundaries, Nordic Affect has brought its music-making to contemporary and rock audiences alike and performed to critical acclaim at many international festivals.
The commissioning and performance of new works is integral to Nordic Affect’s mission as it has, from the group’s inception, combined new compositions with the music of the 17th and 18th centuries. Believing that exciting things happen ‘in the connection’, Nordic Affect has through the years established exciting collaborative relationships with composers, visual artists and producers.
In addition, the group’s concert series in Reykjavík has been a platform for educational programming and presented many first performances in the country, be it of music by Telemann or 21st century composers. Their mission to spotlight women’s role in music history has led to projects such as HÚN/SHE which was broadcast by the European Broadcasting Service and the albums Clockworking and He(a)r.