The following post is an excerpt from my travel blog, kept from 2014-2016, where I documented time as an artist manager at Hotel Pro Forma in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Last night was the opening show of Wundergrund, Copenhagen’s annual contemporary music festival. I was invited by a friend from Hotel Pro Forma, who used to work for the festival and was able to find a last-minute ticket for me. While I came late to the opening reception, at least I didn’t miss the mirror people, who greeted guests in the staircase and gave a mini dance-performance.
Everything was performed at the Hofteatret (Court Theater) in Charlottenborg Palace. The old royal theater has been preserved to retain it’s 1800’s feel, with candles, creaky pew seats, a gigantic balcony chamber for the queen and red velvet everywhere.
The performance itself was the opposite of glitter, or mirrors, or classical aesthetics. Jennifer Walshe was the featured composer of the night, performing three of her pieces with the contemporary ensemble Scenatet. The first two pieces were like watching a track team warm up with silently played cellos and rustling pom-poms. The last piece was 41 minutes of vocal epilepsy, brazen disharmony and disjointed visual/spoken soliloquies on church and science. The first two pieces were somewhat relaxing and even a bit funny, while the last piece was neither. As my friend Johanna put it, “they always have to make you suffer a little”.
Thinking the show was over, I went home pretty exhausted after that last piece but happy to be thinking about and experiencing “music”. I didn’t realize until this morning that I’d actually missed the last part of the performance. Oops. That darned language barrier.
To bring in a few more things about the past week:
– What’s up at work: along with planning the next exhibition (more to come), I was able to make a webshop for Hotel Pro Forma’s books, music and DVDs: http://hotelproformastore.tictail.com/
– I have not yet mentioned the best invention of Denmark: pålægschokolade. Sold in very flat sheets, it’s the best way to get maximum tasting surface area of your chocolate without liquefying it or breaking it up. Today, after a failed run, I bought pålægschokolade and ate it while walking home through Assistens Kirkegaard. It’s probably the closest I’ll come to celebrating Halloween here, eating chocolate on a cool fall day surrounded by gravestones.
– Halloween is a new thing in Copenhagen. There’s a night in February called festelavn which is very similar to Halloween and involves dressing up and bothering old ladies for candy (it also involves putting a cat in a barrel and beating the barrel for good luck, one of the more creative Danish traditions). Festelavn seemed to have been enough for the Danes until ten or twenty years ago, when someone realized the incredible commercial value of the American version of the holiday.
– At the Dome of Visions last week, I saw the first session of a series called SYNC Sessions that puts two musicians from different genres together for five hours to create a collaborative music product.