The soloist in contemporary piano concerti (2018)

Ellen Kristine Ugelvik

About this exposition

The project grew out of a need to improve my ability to tackle challenges I had faced playing contemporary piano concerti. The embodying of new aesthetics is a great challenge in premieres of new works. While the soloist has great potential for expressing personal artistic ideas within a large-scale concert-hall environment, the classical pianist education just does not cover all challenges of performing brand new concerti. The new music suffers. The general lack of contemporary music in educational repertoires has consequences for how the field of classical music develops, what kind of music we value, how we work and what kind of music we play and listen to in a musical society. I wanted to explore the potential of my role and investigate how I could behave and play to help to improve the sounding result of new piano concerti. I created this project with the overarching research question: Which abilities do I need to develop further, and to enable a progressive soloist role when faced with challenges in entirely new music, and what are the extended effects of such an expanded role awareness? As the project moved forward, this progressive role awareness, I discovered, was useful to me by giving me greater flexibility and confidence about the massive collective apparatus surrounding the new piano concerti. The project is based around five new piano concerti I have premiered at national and international venues: Diamond Dust by D. Fujikura, Konsertstykke i tre deler by M. Hegdal, at the tips of my fingers / on the tip of my tongue by B.L. Thorsen, Wowen Fingerprints by T.B. Ulvo and Theory of the Subject by T. Reinholdtsen. Through the evolution of these works, I examine the role of the soloist in all the processes of musical creation, from initialization to realisation in performance. The research material provides insights into how new music is dealt with in the standard classical music world. I provide rare awareness of the role of the soloist and suggest several improvements of how we lay the foundations for premiering new music. A central outcome of my project is a ‘toolbox’ of proposed techniques and approaches for pianists encountering new works. The toolbox, I argue, is also valuable when applied to older music and to how we approach any musical situation on a general level.
typeresearch exposition
last modified19/01/2018
published inNorwegian Academy of Music
portal issue1. Publications - 2018 and earlier

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