“I’m keen to find out what ideas people have.”
Lars Petter Hagen may count as one of the few contemporary composers whose oeuvre is regarded by critics as visionary, elaborate and touchingly sensual at the same time. His music has been performed at festivals like Donaueschinger Musiktage and Märzmusik in Berlin by ensembles such as Ensemble Modern and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Working with vocal and instrumental music, sound installations and music for stage and film, he was awarded the Arne Nordheims Composers Prize and the Edvard Prize. Writing about a recording of Lars Petter Hagen’s, a Gramophone critic once called him genuinely visionary: Here’s the most important new music disc to arrive for a long time. Go buy and hear the future.
Lars Petter Hagen is the artistic director at the prestigious Ultima Festival in Oslo, the largest Scandinavian platform for contemporary music. Before that, he worked as artistic director at Ny Musikk, as well as the festivals Happy Days and Nordic Music Days in Oslo. Lars Petter Hagen has been invited to the Melbourne Art Biennale and the International Music Institute Darmstadt among others, where he inspired his mentees with his enthusiasm for passing on his experience and craftsmanship to future generations.
Freo Majer in conversation with Lars Petter Hagen
Do you see differences between a typical master-class and the mentoring-program at Forecast?
First of all, the difference lies in the possibility to follow a project over a long period of time. Second, it lies in being part of the natural development of a project. To me, mentoring is very much about the possibility to discover – music, ideas and opportunities. I’m very much looking forward to this situation as it enables dialogue. I don’t consider myself a superior, I am interested in engaging in a genuine dialogue with the people I am working with. This dialogue with society, with the public, but also the inner dialogue, is a key word for me in artistic practise today.
Do you think that this dialogue is what your approach to art is all about?
It is a very important part of my work as an artist. To have a dialogue with history, with tradition and with my surroundings – the context of the work – is central to me. This also applies to my work as a curator. What interests me are the relations of music, arts on the one hand, and the public, society, the listener in general on the other.
How would you describe a contemporary or even future aspect of your work?
I think the very nature of art is to be in development and to always change. We need to constantly discover new approaches, even to human existence itself. I think the Forecast project is really a discovery process at its core. It’s an open process, like an artists’ studio, that allows us to find out what music can be and what it can mean for people today.
How might the mentees profit from working with you?
Hopefully we can share some insights and be partners in asking questions regarding the creation and perception of our work. I would like to help in developing ideas, and inspire my mentees to take different directions with their respective projects, to discover new possibilities. I will try to be rather a partner for dialogue than simply an advisor. To me, the interesting thing is to encourage my mentees to stay open as long as possible and discover the full potential of artistic ideas.
What are your own expectations of being a mentor? What made you say “Yes”?
I am always looking for interesting ideas in any form of art, for interesting music, for interesting people, because it is part of my work and the very nature of learning and developing as an artist. I am sure that through the mentoring process I will learn a lot and discover things I would never have thought of – for my own sake. I would like to create a fruitful relationship based on sharing ideas and discoveries.
Read other interviews with Lars-Petter Hagen at i-n-t-o.de