Halldis Rønning

Expanding the artistic dimensions of conducting: Listening actions to connect and create

University of Stavanger, Faculty of Performing Arts, Department of Classical Music

The conductor's role has established conventions and norms such as:

  • She interprets a score
  • She performs notated music
  • She uses a given moving pattern to organize and shape the music
  • She stands on a podium and all the musicians are directed towards her
  • She leads the rehearsal process and has the role that forms most of the result
  • Her artistic role is limited to the rehearsing and performing of the music


What if all these conventions are dissolved and there is a new space to be defined?

What could be the result and insights from this freedom?


In my PHD I will be working creatively with other artists and art forms.

The projects include:

  • Being a dancer, conductor and creative collaborator in «Resonant Silence», (a project by Guro Skumsnes Moe, performed at the Borealis Festival for Experimental Music march 2022)
  • Creating, Co-composing, dancing and conducting the interdisciplinary multimedia performance «Black Obsidian» (performed at the Reykjavik Arts Festival in Cooperation with the Icelandic Opera in 2022)
  • Curating, composing and leading a concert with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra august 2025. I will in this SSO production aim to apply some of my ideas of transdisciplinarity and deep listening into the concert hall and onto the format of the Symphony Orchestra.

Important methods in the research: 

  • Improvisation in relation to other artists with sound and movement. 
  • A dive into what extended listening means for me as a performer, conductor and composer. 
  • Deconstruction of the traditional structure around the conducting role.
  • Developing our capacity to handle and appreciate the unknown. 
  • Transdisciplinarity as a method

In the research, through looking at conducting in an experimental way and relating freely to the role, I intend to relate to the contemporary art scene in general. 

I hope to make connections both conceptually and through methods between the traditional practice of conducting and the contemporary art scene.  Those connections will again say something about the classical music tradition I am part of and perhaps highlight some areas that need attention. 

Halldis Rønning is a violinist and an orchestra conductor. She studied at the Grieg Academy in Bergen (1997-99), the Conservatory of Amsterdam (1999-2002) and at The Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo (2002-2004) She did her master degree in conducting at NMH from 2004-2006. After her studies Rønning conducted the symphony orchestras of her own country, the windbands, contemporary music ensembles and theater- and musical tv productions. She worked with orchestras and ensembles in Sweden, the Netherlands and Vietnam. In 2006 she was the first woman to conduct the Vietnam National Orchestra in the Hanoi Opera House. From 2011-2013 she was assistant conductor of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra as the first woman to hold a long term conducting contract in a Norwegian Orchestra. Rønning has a great interest in contemporary music and she has conducted many world premieres and contemporary pieces in concerts and festivals in Europe and Scandinavia. She has had long and fruitful collaborations with Trondheim sinfonietta, BIT20 ensemble and the CIKADA ensemble, major contributors in both the Norwegian and the international music scene. She has in recent years gradually moved towards a more creative plattform, exploring improvisation with orchestras, dance and movement, composition and collaborative art projects across disciplines. She is interested in expanding the conductor’s role into a creative and performative one as well as opening up for more artistic exchange with the musicians she works with. In 2022 she premiered the Multimedia transdiciplinary art project called «Sort Glimmer/Hrafntinna» at the Reykjavik Art Festival in cooperation with the Icelandic Opera in 2022 where she was Co-composer, dancer and conductor.



Artistic Research Spring Forum 2024

2nd presentation

In the presentation at the Artistic Research Forum in Oslo march 2024 I will talk about the different methods I use in the research and some insights that can be drawn from them. 

I will present the program for the PHD’s last concert and the connection the pieces have to the research.

It will be interesting if anyone have inputs on composers/compositions that relate to the conductor or relationships conductor-orchestra in an untraditional way- that could be pieces of the big format that challenge the strong hierarchy of orchestra/conductor, that ask for creative contributions from the performers and/or challenge the scenic traditions of orchestra seating. 

I will also be curious about input on other artistic practices that explore “deconstruction” as a method or result. 


Artistic Research Autumn Forum 2023

1st presentation

In my presentation at the ARF in Oslo, October 26th 2023 I will present material from my ongoing PHD that relates to what I call a listening practice. I will also present ideas for the last phase of the project, which is a concert with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in august 2025.