Punkt 07 - Kristiansand, Norway - Day Four, September 1, 2007
Hard though it is to imagine, Punkt 07 represented a number of significant steps forward for the festival. With a more varied and international roster of artists, it's become an even richer laboratory for first encounters and a wealth of new ideas. The visual arts and music collaborations of Punkt Kunst took the festival's philosophy of bringing together different art forms to a new level. The Punkt Magasin is more than just a memento for those attending a festival: it's a work of art in itself, designed by Alf Solbaken and including vivid images from the 2006 festival; an excerpt from Jon Hassell's forthcoming book, The North and South of You; an article by BBC Radio 3's Fiona Talkington about June Tabor and Quercus; a piece on Kammerflimmer Kollektief by German radio host Michael Engelbrecht; an essay by Davis Toop, and much more. With the addition of shows at local club Kick, a focus on emerging artists with Punkt Elope, and even more daytime lectures, Punkt has become more than just a music festival: it truly is a focal point for art, collaboration and community.
For a festival that can accommodate a capacity of only 500 people at one time, it's an ambitious celebration without precedent. The live remix premise alone would be enough, but with the remarkable lighting and set designs of Tord Knudsen and pristine sound of engineer GeirØstenjø in the theatre, Punkt makes every show a completely different experience on every level. The organizational peopleincluding chairman Arne Chr. Bang, media department Camilla Nordahl, Kjeil Bentsen and Monica Bang, and everyone from transportation to accommodationsmake it a festival that, with a program of between four and five concerts and corresponding remixes (totaling eight to ten different performances) running back-to-back each day of the festival without a hitch, is ambitious in scope yet personal in its approach. Regular attendees really are part of the "Punkt Family," and it's truly a festival experience like no other.
With such a strong roster, it's nearly impossible to pick favorite performances, but there were some that managed to rise above a very high bar.
Main Theatre Performances
- Quercus: June Tabor / Iain Ballamy / Huw Warren That traditional British folk music can coexist with the more adventurous harmonies of jazz is something that could only take place with singer June Tabor, pianist Huw Warren and saxophonist Iain Ballamy. Tabor's direct delivery was expanded by Warren and Ballamy's combination of reverence for the song and constant search for new means of interpretation.
- Trio Mediæval A performance by these three sopranos who have made a remarkable impact since emerging at the start of the decade, would have been enough. But the trioAnna Maria Friman, Linn Andrea Fuglseth and Torunn Østrem Ossumcontinues to mine new territory, with the forthcoming Folk Songs (ECM, 2007) leaving the classical repertoire for now to focus on traditional Norwegian tunes. And by bringing special guests Arve Henriksen and Jan Bang onboard, Trio æval made it perfectly clear that it's just as interested in dissolving arbitrary and limiting musical boundaries as any other artists performing at Punkt.
- Hans Appelquist Despite being one of the most programmed and least improvisational shows of the festival, Hans Appelquist's performance of Naima (H?pna, 2006) was a clear highlight. A multi-media performance that combined images, sampled voices, and layers of multi-tracked music, Appelquist's tale of the mysterious woman with a pelican head managed to find a place where delightful absurdity and serious message coexist with profound humanity.
- Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra/Arve Henriksen/Jan Bang: Crossing Images Arve Henriksen and Jan Bang continue to demonstrate their significance in a performance that uses Henriksen's own melodies as a musical concept, but is expanded into an unprecedented integration of form and freedom. Peter Tornquist's Crossing Images finds its own musical nexus point, combining a flexible chamber symphony orchestra with two of Norway's most remarkable improvisers.
- Trio æval Live Remix: Erik Honoré/Nils Chr. Moe-Repstad By taking the Trio æval's flawless performance and blending it with ambient sounds and a requiem by Alfred Schnittke to create a setting not unlike Gavin Bryars' The Sinking of the Titanic (Point, 1995), Erik Honoré created a foundation for author Nils Chr. Moe-Repstad's reading of a dark poem from World War II. Nuance and subtlety, near-silence and dynamics made this a unique remix experience.
- Sweet Billy Pilgrim Live Remix: Sidsel Endresen/Jan Bang/Erik Honoré Sweet Billy Pilgrim's set was a fountain of lyrical ideas, but Endresen required only a couple as inspiration for her unparalleled vocal innovations. The consolidation of her work-in-progress on One (Sofa, 2006) has been surpassed, making Endresen the most groundbreaking vocalist on the scene today. The many years that Bang and Honoré have spent working together created a simpatico context, where they acted as catalysts for Endresen's all-acoustic, all natural and completely dumbfounding ability to articulate and shift gears in ways no other singer can.
- Crossing Images Live Remix: Bugge Wesseltoft/Michiyo Yagi With the Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra's performance of Peter Tornquist's Crossing Images as an inspiration, rather than direct reference, Jazzland owner/ keyboardist/soundscapist Bugge Wesseltoft had a first musical encounter with the remarkable Japanese koto player, Michiyo Yagi. Abstract and edgy, it provided some of Punkt 07's most intense moments, and some of its most magical, as two artists from two cultures and two traditions found expansive and expressive common ground.
- Friedman/ Liebezeit/Chisolm Live Remix: Jon Hassell/Eivind Aarset/Jan Bang/Erik Honoré/Arve Henriksen The only way to close Punkt 07 was to have the artist who, in so many ways, charted the course that would be followed by so many of the artists who are what Punkt is all about. Memorable, moving, profound and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch Jon Hassell work, without any safety net, with some of Norway's most intrepid explorers, it was an experience that the audience will never forget.
Visit Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra, Arve Henriksen, Jan Bang, Bugge Wesseltoft, Michiyo Yagi, David Toop, Xavier Charles, Ingar Zach, Erik Honore, Robin Guthrie, Burnt Friedman, Jon Hassell and Punkt Festival on the web.