H e (a) r (2018)

Stefansdottir, Sigfusdottir, Guonadottir, Borvaldsdottir, Tally

Nordic Affect

The only way to find a larger vision is to be somewhere in particular. - Donna Haraway

H e (a) r is an ode to hear, here, hér* and her. It springs from treasured collaborations that allowed us to ‘send sound and receive sound’ (Pauline Oliveros). We now extend it to you, this meditation on embodiment, acoustics and ecology. An album which rides on the wave of questions that rise and rise

Whose sounds?
Whose bodies?
Whose voices?

Hjartans þakkir / Thank you for joining us

- Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir, Artistic director of Nordic Affect

*hér is the Icelandic word for here

[read much more in the booklet]

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Nordic Affect

Icelandic ensemble Nordic Affect has been hailed as a ‘multi-disciplinary force of nature’ (A Closer Listen), as a gem in Iceland’s music life (Fréttablaðið) and for ‘ineffable synergy between the performers’ (San Francisco Classical Voice). In 2013 the ensemble was nominated forthe Nordic Council Music Prize and was named Performer of the Year at the Iceland Music Awards in 2014.

Founded in 2005, Nordic Affect (Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir, violin; Guðrún Hrund Harðardóttir, viola; Hanna Loftsdóttir, cello; Guðrún Óskarsdóttir, harpsichord) 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 festivals such as TRANSIT Festival (BE), Dark Music Days (IS), November Music (NL), Skanu Mežs (LV), Iceland Airwaves (IS), Ensems Festival (SP), North Atlantic Flux (UK) and Estonian Music Days (EE).In the U.S., Nordic Affect was featured last year on the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Reykjavik Festival, and has also performed at National Sawdust in New York, Constellation in Chicago, and at the UC Berkeley Art Museum.

Currently in residence at Dark Music Days, Iceland’s leading contemporary festival, the ensemble’s upcoming project at DMD features a collaboration with celebrated performer and composer Maja Ratkje. This winter will also see the group featured in the European Broadcasting Service’s special Christmas broadcast with the project ‘To Home’.

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. Nordic Affect is also a participant in the Iceland Music Information Centre’s professional development program for young composers.

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 to women’s role in music history has led to projects such as HÚN/SHE which was broadcast by the European Broadcasting Service in 2015.

Starting with its debut album in 2007, Nordic Affect’s recording projects have spanned newly discovered early music to first releases of music written for the ensemble. Nordic Affect’s performances can be found on the Deutsche Grammophon, Bad Taste Records, Musmap, Brilliant Classics and Sono Luminus labels. In 2015, Nordic Affect’s albumClockworkingwas released by Sono Luminus. Clockworkinghas received various accolades and was featured as Album of the Week on Q2 Music and Second Inversion. The title track was chosen for NPR’s Songs We Love series and featured in various best-of-the-year lists, including Steve Smith’s for Night After Night, The Chicago Reader, and The New Yorker. In spring 2017, Nordic Affect released Raindamage, an album resulting from a collaboration between the group and producer Valgeir Sigurðsson. The album was nominated for the Iceland Music Award and Kraumur Prize and was featured in various best-of-the-year-lists, The Chicago Reader, 5:4 and AnEarful. In October 2018 Nordic Affect released the album “He(a)”r on the Sono Luminus label (available from NativeDSD Music) with works by Icelandic and Estonian composers.

The artistic director of Nordic Affect since its founding has been Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir.

photo: from booklet DSL92224

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H e (a) r (2018)

Stefansdottir, Sigfusdottir, Guonadottir, Borvaldsdottir, Tally

Nordic Affect

    A Closer Listen

Richard Allen from A Closer Listen says "H(ear) is an album close to our hearts, as it invites a closer listen, reflecting the philosophy of our site. The women of Nordic Affect continue to beguile as they present a multitude of works by female composers ~ including for the first time Estonia’s Mirjam Tally. But in the seven-part title track they also teach, using bite-sized interludes to investigate the nature of he(a)ring, the pair of parenthesis suggesting gender and the ear. “The subject we’re concerned with is sound,” begins the narrator, quoting the words of R. Murray Schafer as digraphs and diphthongs proliferate on the playground behind her. Thoughts surface and disintegrate, leaving a residue of contemplation and echo. Stereo is used to wonderful effect, as the phrases collide, interlock and disengage. Breath and break are as crucial as words. Our only quibble is that fragments are interspersed throughout the album like chapter headings; we prefer to he(a)r the series in sequence, transforming Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir‘s composition into a powerful overture. The strands of music are woven together like loose hair. While listening, one recalls the cover art for amiina’s Kurr, portraying women content in their communal endeavor. The proud harmonic finale is indicative of a completed project, making it the perfect choice to close the album. Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir, Guðrún Hrund Harðardóttir, Hanna Loftsdóttir and Guðrún Óskarsdóttir are to be congratulated once again ~ they’ve pushed their sound further, and achieved more as a result. As intoned in “He(a)r,” “the best conversations are still those that play on the variations on that great and ancient theme: I’m here (hear). Where are you?"

Richard Allen[read full review]

H e (a) r (2018)

Stefansdottir, Sigfusdottir, Guonadottir, Borvaldsdottir, Tally

Nordic Affect

Digital Converters: Merging Technologies Horus
Mastering Engineer: Daniel Shores
Producer: Dan Merceruio / Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir
Recording Engineer: Daniel Shores, Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir & Kent Olofsson
Recording location: Sono Luminus Studios, Boyce, Virginia on September 11-15, 2017 except H E (A) R: Inter Arts Center’s studios, Malmö, Sweden on December 14-15, 2017
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DXD

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DSL92224: H e (a) r
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Tracks.
1.
H e (a) r: I.
Stefansdottir
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2.
Spirals
Sigfusdottir
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3.
H e (a) r: II.
Stefansdottir
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4.
Warm Life at the Foot of the Iceberg
Tally
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5.
H e (a) r: III.
Stefansdottir
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6.
Reflections
Borvaldsdottir
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7.
H e (a) r: IV.
Stefansdottir
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8.
Impressions
Borvaldsdottir
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9.
H e (a) r: V.
Stefansdottir
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10.
Point of Departure
Guonadottir
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11.
H e (a) r: VI.
Stefansdottir
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12.
Loom
Sigfusdottir
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13.
H e (a) r: VII.
Stefansdottir
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