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12.08.2013 REVIEW

Tietgenkollegiet, 2013. Foto: Maria Bordorff.

STRØM Festival 2013: Opening concert Panorama

Kopenhagen went to Tietgenkollegiet few hours before the opening concert of STRØM Festival 2013 to have a chat with Mike Sheridan about the work behind the much awaited event. In the evening we went back to the award winning student house at Amager, to experience the concert with our own ears and eyes. An experience that indeed showed to be stimulating on many levels

AF Maria Bordorff

STRØM Opening concert Panorama
August 12, 2013
9.30 pm
Tietgenkollegiet, Copenhagen S

The opening concert of this year's STRØM Festival is titled Panorama and took place Monday evening at the architecturally innovative student house Tietgenkollegiet near the University of Copenhagen.

About the work behind the Panorama project, Mike Sheridan says:
”The process started one and a half year ago, during a meeting with STRØM. And they had this idea of making a 360 degrees concert, where people stand as silhouettes. I think they asked me, because they have seen some of the things that I have done previously with mucisians, trying to build a bridge between acoustic and electronic music. So we started a brainstorming process.
Jacob Kvist, the lighting designer, had a lot of ideas of how to use architecture, so we had to find a place where the architecture could play a big role.
This place, Tietgenkollegiet, is one of the few places in Denmark that has this colosseum kind of feeling. It is a very big building and it takes a lot of silhouettes, so to say, to fill it out. Therefore we started thinking of working with an orchestra.

I thought of the Danish Youth Ensemble as an idea, as it could be fun to involve a lot of young people in a project, made by other young people – to young people. It would give quiet a nice message. So, now we are here, thanks to great fundraising, with a 70 people production team. It's amazing. And It's been much of a learning process for me too, as working with 360 degrees, classical music and modern techniques, involves lots of problems to solve, a lot of creative thinking to do. I have learned a whole new vocabulary.”

Beside Mike Sheridan and The Danish Youth Ensemble, danish lighting designer Jacob Kvist and British musician Martyn Ware also joined the artistic team behind the complex construction of the spectacular and innovative concert.

”My hope for the concert tonight is that people will be amazed. That they, while standing in the middle of everything that surrounds them, will get a more sensitive experience out of it, than what you get from simply staring at a stereo concert. The ear is designed to decode the ambient surroundings and when the sound comes from everywhere, you tend to be more prepared, so to say, more sensitive towards what goes on around you.

If people will forget for a moment where they are or what they are going to do afterwards and just be present, sharing the moment, it would be great.” Mike says.

If people forgot time and space, is not to say. But I will argue that they did get amazed by the level of creativity, and by the way everything played together and lifted the concert to a whole new level of audiovisual entertainment. 

Here is how Kopenhagen experienced Panorama, in words and photos:

The audience crowding on the lawn, 2013. Photo Maria Bordorff

There is a buzzing sound of people, still more arriving, they huddle in the middle of the round lawn. The trees are illuminated by blue light, quiet, tall and slender, almost silvery and frozen, they point towards the gray sky above us where the clouds may together, perhaps for another rain shower.

Blue Trees, 2013. Photo Maria Bordorff

After a loud voice welcoming us to this year's STRØM Festival, to Panorama at Tietgenkollegiet, it turns quiet and only small red and green lights glow from the darkened building; evidence of latent electronics that could emerge anytime.

The rooms are then lightened one by one, like a fluorescent lamp that slowly and limping turns on, blinks and turns off again.

In etiquette with the sound of the strings, the lit rooms blink; from the top floor and down towards the ground floor, as the tones slide from high to low. And horisontally too, as the music folds out; as one imagines music to look like, if it took form as a machine structure. Very well created by lighting designer Jacob Kvist.

Tietgenkollegiet powered up, 2013. Photo Maria Bordorff

The 360 degrees experience sets in with the second piece. The sound surrounds us as the entire building is activated in the form of flashing rooms. Meanwhile, the sky has cleared up and the night's first stars appear. The few clouds have turned pink. 

The student house is indeed powered up and as a mechanical animal, it drums, squeals, howls, twirls; rusty, metallic, and then the strings, heatedly.
It is the building that plays and its temperament vibrates at times!

Then everything is lit up, intensely, as the second piece tapers. It is a modern fairy tale and just above the building, the Big Dipper hangs slightly tilted. It all comes together in a higher unity. Music, sounds, visuals, architecture – even the weather joins the unfolding of what can be simply described as a very beautiful concert.

Tietgenkollegiet lit up in yellow, 2013. Photo Maria Bordorff

With the third piece the orchestra dissolves. It is now a starry night. The mucisians appear as silhouettes behind screens as if they have become an integral part of the architecture, absorbed by the creature of the building itself. And this moment does indeed capture the audience fully. It appears human and a bit melancholic the way they all stand as silhouettes, in a slow and lonely symbiosis with their instruments. The applause testifies collective emotions at this point.

Silhouettes, 2013. Photo Maria Bordorff

Overall, a very good interplay between the electronic, acoustic and visual elements and an event that meets the expectations – more over – amazes the audience with the show-off of what a musical experience can be today.


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