Award takes note of composer's embrace of a diversity of cultures.

Position:THE ARTS

REYKJAVIK, Iceland--Since his breakthrough as a composer more than 30 years ago, Lasse Thoresen has been searching for a musical language that brings the world's diverse cultures together.

Now, one of his innovative vocal works has been acclaimed for the commonalities it finds between the ancient and the modern, as well as between musical styles around the world.

In ceremonies in Iceland on 3 November 2010, Prof. Thoresen was presented the Nordic Council Music Prize, which comes with an award of 350,000 Denmark Kroner (US$56,000), for his piece, Opus 42.

"This strikingly beautiful piece reveals the common denominators in ancient and ultramodern sounds, drawing our attention to the similarities between Scandinavian folk traditions and the music we might find in, say, the Middle East or India," wrote the Adjudication Committee for the Prize, which includes members from Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. "It represents a renewal not just of Nordic vocal music, but of score-based vocal music in general."


Prof. Thoresen explained: "There are scales very similar in Scandinavian folk music to things you can find in the East. Neither of them elaborate harmony in a very developed way as was done in western classical music."

Opus 42 also incorporates the traditional overtone singing of Mongolia, in which the singer manipulates the resonances created as the air travels from the lungs to the mouth and nose.

"That takes a few years to learn; said Prof. Thoresen. "For singers to do that, they must have quite a new oral training. So as a part of this project, a system of training was developed to master these techniques.

"I think it is important to regard...

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