Norway’s Supersilent, Nils Økland Band, Frode Haltli and others will be appearing at one of the USA’s most important contemporary music festivals, which takes place in Knoxville, Tennessee between 23-26 March. They’ll be sharing the bill with the likes of Meredith Monk, Wilco, Gavin Bryars Ensemble, The Magnetic Fields, Blonde Redhead, Tortoise, Carla Bley and more.
Big Ears Festival has been described as a groundbreaking festival which cuts across musical boundaries and presents some of the most interesting new developments in music, film and visual art. In 2017 the Knoxville festival has made a firm commitment to Norwegian music in collaboration with Music Norway, Ultima Festival, NOPA, the Norwegian Consulate in New York and Norsk Jazzforum.
In total there will be nine concerts featuring Norwegian musicians during Big Ears. At the opening concert, Frode Haltli will perform his composition Grenseskogen, which was part of last year’s Ultima programme. In his first ever USA appearances, Nils Økland will play with his Nils Økland Band and in two duo concerts with Sigbjørn Apeland and Mats Eilertsen.
Supersilent, who celebrate their 20th anniversary during Ultima in September, give a concert in the historic Bijou Theatre, as well as a duo set by Ståle Storløkken and Arve Henriksen. Those two, plus fellow Supersilent member Deathprod (aka Helge Sten), will each give respective solo concerts.
– Big Ears is by far the best and biggest festival in the United States when it comes to exploring the space between the complete chaos of alternative music and art music. It may also be the only festival in the United States that is able to achieve this in the format and scale that they do. This is a rare opportunity for us to play in the US and it’s fantastic that it’s happening at a festival like Big Ears, which is clearly aimed at the field we work in, says Helge Sten, aka Deathprod. .
Among the panel discussions at Big Ears, Norwegian music will be under the spotlight, emphasising the convergence of modern jazz and contemporary music. The panel will be made up of Nils Økland, Helge Sten, Jan Ole Otnæs (Nasjonal Jazzscene) and Lars Petter Hagen (Ultima). The moderator will be American journalist Peter Margasak (Chicago Reader, Downbeat).
– The three Norwegian groups featured at Big Ears this year nicely encapsulate what’s so enticing and beguiling about contemporary music from Norway these days. Nils Økland, Frode Haltli, and Supersilent all make radically disparate music, but they share a endless sense of curiosity and a refusal to heed orthodoxy. They all follow their instincts, leading them into new places. I’m excited to talk about what makes music from Norway stand out at our panel discussion on Friday afternoon, says Peter Margasak.