The CONSONANT Quintet, a Norwegian-Spanish wind quintet based in Oslo (Norway), winners of the first prize at Ungdommens MusikkMesterskap 2020, are our guests for this intriguing interview. Before we delve into it, here is their Instagram account and here are a few links to see them performing live some Grieg and Nielsen compositions:
First of all, let our readers/followers get acquainted with you: where are you from, where are you based, and which kind of act/ensemble are you? Which is your main repertoire?
We are a woodwind quintet based in Oslo (Norway). Three of our members are Spanish, and two are Norwegians. Currently our repertoire includes the standard repertoire for this formation, and due to the dual nature of the ensemble we are now aiming to focus on Scandinavian and Spanish music, both original and arranged.
Considering your native nation/nations, how in your opinion your national or even local culture did shape your interest for music in general, and your instrument in particular?
In general the instrument choice happens very early, so you don’t really know what you are getting into. Later on one gets to join local wind bands, which happen to have a strong tradition in both Norway and Spain. At the beginning, the thing that people enjoy the most about playing with this bands is the social aspect of it, but, after a while, as your musician’s skills develop, you start enjoying the act of playing as well, which in many cases makes people want to keep improving, and that is what makes most of us want to continue with our musical education.
Would you choose one (or more) composer from your nations and introduce her/him to our audience? From any musical era, including nowadays.
We would like to introduce two composers we will be working with in a future project mentioned further below. David Rivas Domínguez is a Spanish composer who has a big wind band background as performer, conductor and composer, and whose music is deeply inspired by the Spanish wind band tradition. Eivind Hannisdal is a Norwegian composer that has a lot of experience with film and TV music, and whose compositions have components from film music composers such as Ennio Morricone and John Williams, as well as from classical composers like Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven and Ravel. We are really looking forward to playing their music and we invite you to check them out on YouTube and Spotify!
We surely will! What do you think of the classical musical scene in your city/town? What is positive, and what is negative (beyond the pandemic troubles).
We like that there is a lot of musical activity in Oslo and there is always people willing to listen to the concerts. What we are concerned about is the fact that the classical music seems to be focused on a specific program and audience, and we believe that this can easily make the concert halls become like museums, where the things of old are “worshipped” instead of bringing forth new ideas that could attract a broader audience. This is not something that happens just here: it is a reality common to whole of the classical music sphere.
Tough one: Bach, Haydn or Mozart? Why?
Bach, because he established the game rules, and without him nothing would have been the same. Shoutout to Mendelssohn for bringing him back to the stages!
Which is the best experience ever happened to you (as an individual and/or as en ensemble) thanks to music?
The whole UMM (Ungdommens MusikkMesterskap) experience was wonderful. It was intense and joyful and made us take notice of the potential that we had as a group, as well as forging very strong friendships.
Would you study music again? Why?
Definitely, it has never let us down.
Another tough one: Renaissance, Baroque or Dodecaphonic music?
Bartok or Beethoven? Why?
Beethoven, due to the influence he had on the music that came after him.
The greatest Scandinavian composer is…? Why?
Edvard Grieg, in our opinion. We like his music and it seems to be popular among both musicians and non musicians.
Which are the most interesting classical music festivals in your area?
As we said before, there is a lot of musical activity in Oslo and surroundings, and at the end it really comes down to what each person is looking for.
Is music streaming good or bad (or both) for classical music, in your opinion? Would you care to elaborate a bit on this?
Online concerts can never live up to the experience of live classical music. It erases the connection that is established between the performer and the audience, in which the energy flows in a reciprocal way. There are many great recordings that can be listened to at home, but there is something special about attending to a live performance and performing for people instead of a camera. There is also a social aspect to it that makes you want to pay for listening to a live concert, in the same way that having a beer with your friends at a bar is more enjoyable than having it on Skype from home. Online concerts (and recordings, for that matter) are a short term solution for this pandemic and can be helpful when it comes to reach a broader spectrum of listeners, but we should not give up on live music.
The most underrated Scandinavia composer is…? Why?
We find it very hard to give an opinion on this because we believe that it really depends on personal taste. Every composer has something special to offer and we can not make a final decision.
Palestrina or Monteverdi? Why?
We love opera, so we have to choose Monteverdi, him being one of its pioneers.
What is the most important component of a musical education, in your experience? Music school, listening habits, family environment, pure talent…?
In our opinion, having clear objectives is very important. It is also crucial to find good teachers that are able to guide you, and friends and family that are willing to support you and understand you along the way.
Conservatories and music colleges should aim mainly at preparing professional musicians or highly competent listeners?
You have to be a good listener in order to be a good musician. Both aspects develop at the same time and help one another as the musician’s skills improve and the person gets involved in the musical environment. The more sophisticated a musical environment is, the more competent musicians it will create.
Something you really do not like of classical music? Could be anything.
The biggest problem we notice is that the concert format in classical music (such as program lengths and contents, as well as ticket prices) doesn’t seem to fit in the lifestyle of many people. We consider that some possible solutions could be bringing classical music to children in early ages so they can get to know it, and creating programs that would attract a wider variety of people. We know of orchestras that have implemented techno, rock, etc. in their programs in a successful manner for both audience and musicians. After all, if we compare it with literature, you can not throw a Dostoyevski novel to someone that has only read Harry Potter. We believe that this is an important matter, because staying focused only on the age range that we already have and hoping that the ones coming after will become interested on the way seems too big of a gamble for us.
Vinyl, k7, cd, mp3… which is your favourite music format, as a ‘end-user’?
Our best concert ever (as a group) was…. tell us all about it.
The UMM (Ungdommens MusikkMesterskap) final. We are a fairly new group and that has been one of the few chances of performing live that we have had. The whole process up to that point was exciting and exhausting, with very long rehearsals filled with meticulous work and also laughter, but all we learnt during that time made it worth it.
Which is the most important event on your horizon? Whether it is an album, a tour, a concert… anything you wish to share with the audience.
The first upcoming event is a masterclass with Oslo Kammerakademi in January 2021, and we are really looking forward to it. On a longer term, we are working on a new original project. This will be a puppet show that will bring together Norwegian and Spanish traditional music and present the woodwind quintet in an innovative format.
The final tough one: Major or Minor? Why?
Bach would have chosen Minor.