Jóhann´s score for Back to Back Theatre’s Ganesh vs. the Third Reich has been nominated for Best Sound Composition at the Green Room Awards, Melbourne’s premier arts award. “From artistic excellence to technical innovation, a Green Room Award is the most revered accolade an artist can receive in Australia’s cultural capital.”
The Miners’ Hymns, Jóhann’s collaboration with the filmmaker Bill Morrison, has been getting excellent reviews both for its live screening with the Wordless Orchestra in the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden and during its run at NYC’s Film Forum. Read them here:
New York Times: Live concert review
New York Times
Popmatters Live concert review
Film Journal International
Jóhann is making landfall in North America for three exciting and unique performances. The first stop is New York City. Jóhann will perform in its entirety his most recent release: the haunting soundtrack to Bill Morrison’s film The Miners’ Hymns.. This performance features the Wordless Music Orchestra, a 22 piece brass and string ensemble and will be accompanied by a screening of the film. The event will take place at the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden. on January 31st as part of WNYC’s New Sounds Live Concert Series, hosted by John Schaefer – Admission is free; no tickets or reservations needed!
Next stop is Winnipeg, Manitoba, where, on February 3rd, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra will perform the world premiere of Jóhann’s A Prayer to the Dynamo, a new 40 minute piece commissioned by the WSO for the Winnipeg New Music Festival.. The piece takes its title from Henry Adams’ poem inspired by his mystical experience in the Great Hall of Dynamos at the World´s Fair in Paris in the year 1900.
Finally, Jóhann goes west to Los Angeles, where he’ll be joined by the Formalist Quartet for a retrospective concert at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. on February 8th. This will follow a performance on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic,” which airs on Tuesday, Feb. 7th at 11:15 PST.
In May Jóhann will tour Europe co-headlining with his labelmates and fellow composers, American pianist Dustin O’Halloran and German prepared-piano maestro Hauschka. The Transcendentalists Tour will visit The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and the UK.
See an updated list of upcoming concerts here.
Dis was released in the USA on September 13th by Workers Institute
IBM 1401 – A User’s Manual is a meditation on the complex relationship between man and the machines he creates.
IBM 1401, A User’s Manual is a collaboration between musician Johann Johannsson and dancer/choreographer Erna Ómarsdóttir. The music is performed live on laptop and a Hammond B3 electric organ with electronic treatments.
The Hammond organ and the distinctive Leslie speaker is used not only to perform the music, but as an integral part of the decor, the Leslie rotary speakers providing a hypnotic counterpoint to the dancer’s movements.
The music is based on a looped passage from an old Icelandic hymn which the IBM 1401 computer was programmed to play.
The composer then weaves melodic textures in counterpoint to the computer’s melody, creating a hypnotic and melancholic atmosphere which slowly builds and evolves as new melodies surface and are interwoven with treated computer and printer noises.
It’s no longer possible to separate man from the machines he uses. We are now completely dependent on our machines and life without them is almost inconceivable. The human race has in fact become a race of cyborgs, inseparable from the machines around, and sometimes inside us (pacemakers, artificial nerve-connected limbs).
Computers will soon have the required power to simulate most of the properties of the human brain, Soon computers will completely surpass this organ in every capacity. This begs the question whether weｴre witnessing a new form of life, whether we’re in fact creating our own mechanical descendants that will replace us as the ruling species.
Many will react to questions like this with horror, reflecting man’s fear of being toppled from the apex of things. What will our relationship with such beings be like?
We believe that we should replace fear with nurture and caring, and horror with awe and wonder.
We believe that only by regarding these mechanical offspring as we would our biological children will we avoid disaster, because all neglected children will eventually turn against their parents.
We believe that in order to co-exist with the machines we will have to learn to read the user’s manual.
IBM 1401 – A User’s Manual is based around the story of the first computer to come to Iceland, in 1964. IBM 1401 was not designed to play music, yet by placing a radio receiver close to it and by programming its memory in a certain way, simple melodies could be produced. IBM 1401 was taught to “sing”, and its operators gave it a very human ability that it wasn’t “supposed” to have. Then, when a new model arrived that made it redundant, it wasn’t simply thrown away, but was given a little funeral ceremony where its operators expressed their gratitude and their sorrow. This was documented on tape with recordings of the sound of the machine in operation and also of music played by the computer. The music in the is based on these recordings.
The piece seeks to explore the above themes using this simple fairy-tale like story as a frame. It blends dance movements with a set-design and music that reflects themes of techno-nostalgia/discarded technology, nurture (programming computers/raising children), body/machine, human and artificial intelligence, machines and sexuality, technological progress/human evolution. The choreography uses elements of the body as machine and dance as a mysterious, uncanny and intangible energy, much like electricity. The choreography explores both mechanical movements and organic movements and juxtapose the two, seeking to find the link between them.
Concept Jóhann Jóhannsson and Erna Ómarsdóttir
Choreography and dance Erna Ómarsdóttir
Music composed and performed by Jóhann Jóhannsson
Strings performed by the Ethos String Quartet
Music contains a fragment of “Island Ogrum Skorid”, by Sigvaldi Kaldalons, performed by the IBM 1401 Computer, programmed by Johann Gunnarsson and Elias Davidsson, recorded in 1971.
Creation on the occasion of the coproduction of the GRIM (Groupe de Recherche et d’Improvisation Musicale) and of the Officina – atelier marseillais de production, for the DANSEM 2002 festival (Marseille), the 26th of september.
Thanks to Kitchen Motors, 1x2x3 – Philippe Baste, Rosas Parts, Tjarnarbio (Reykjavik), Ekka, Omar and Kristin.
Erna Ómarsdóttir was born in Iceland, Reykjavik, in 1972. She now lives in Brussels.
1990-93 Icelandic ballet school in Reykjavik, Iceland
1993-95 Rotterdamse dans-akademie in Rotterdam, Netherlands
1995-98 P.A.R.T.S. in Brussels, Belgium
1996 Forms her own dance theatre company, Ekka, in Reykjavik
Major professional experience:
“Prometeo”: De Munt, Brussels, music by Luigi Nono, directed by Robert Wilson
“Rosas Danst Rosas”: a motion picture by Thierry de Mey, choreography A.T. de Keersmaeker
“Curtain’sd With A Cloudy Red”: directed by Thomas Plischke
“Less Than A Moment”: directed by Salva Sanchez
“The Fin Comes A Little Earlier This Siecle”:, directed by Jan Fabre
“Wet-art”: scientific/art collaboration between Erna Ómarsdóttir and Tom Plischke
“Events For Television (Again)”: BDC, regie Tom Plischke en collectief
“BER (Naked)”: own work, directed by Ekka. Expo Hannover, Vilnius festival, etc ?
“As Long As The World Needs A Warrior Soul”: directed by Jan Fabre
“Walkabout Stalk”: Own creation in collaboration with Riina Saastamoinen, Martiens Go Home and Architecture en scene. A European city of culture 2000 production: Brussel-Reykjavik-Helsinki-Marseille (DANSEM)
“My Movements Are Alone Like Streetdogs”: (dance solo), directed by Jan Fabre.
“Encounter”: A dance impro/encounter between Benoit Lachambre in a concept of Niels Radtke in de B-space in Brussel.
“Move-E”: An Experimental-dance-video by Frank Pay, choreography and performance by Erna Ómarsdóttir
“Glass-Wood-Voice”: Own work. A video installation.
“Ondersteboven”: A performance conceived by Frank Pay with four writers, three dancers and four musicians.
“Deep In The Woods” video installation by Thierry de Mey
“Les Guerriers De La Beauté”: a film by Jan Fabre and Pierre Coulibeuf (screened on International Film Festivals all over the world)
“Eva 3″: directed by Ekka dance theatre, performed in Reykjavik, Iceland, X-Primo in Malmo, Sweden and Aerowaves in London, England
“IBM 1401 – A User’s Manual”: a duet created together with the musician Jóhann Jóhannsson, choreography and performance by Erna Ómarsdóttir
“FOI”: directed by Sidi Larbi Sherkaoui les Ballets C de la B, premiere in March in Gand, Belgium
About her main performances:
My Movements are alone like street dogs a solo piece from Jan Fabre created for and together with Erna Ómarsdóttir was premiered at The Avignon festival 2000, then performed in over 100 theatres and festivals, and in Bolshoj theatre in Moskva where it was nominated for The Benoit la Dance Award, 2002.
Ekka dance theater has performed abroad in festivals like Expo 2000 in Hanover, Vilnius dance festival, X-Primo in Malmo and Aerowaves at the Place theatre in London where Erna was selected as the best performer in 2003.
Erna was nominated as the best performer in Ballettanz (Tanz Ballet International, Europes most important dance magazine) in 2002 and one of the 100 best performers in the world at the Ninjinsky Prize in Monaco 2002.
IBM 1401 A Users Manual was first performed in September 2002 at DANSEM, Marseille, in co-operation with GRIM, Groupe de Recherche et d Improvisation Musicale and LOfficina, atelier marseillais de production and then in several Festival and venues in France and Europe.
Foi also performed all over the world in the most important theatres like Theatre de la Ville in Paris, South Bank Centre in London, Schaubühne Am Lehniner Platz in Berlin, also going to Canada, USA and South Asia