Henrik Hellstenius (born 1963) studied musicology at the University of Oslo and later composition with Lasse Thoresen at the The Norwegian State Academy of Music in Oslo. In 1992-3 he studied with Gérard Grisey in Paris, and he also studied computer-supported composition at IRCAM in Paris.
Hellstenius´ output encompasses a large range of works: chamber music, orchestral works, opera, electro-acoustic music and music for theatre and dance. His music has been frequently performed in concerts and festivals around Europe.
His first opera SERA has been recorded and received the Norwegian Edvard award in 2000. It has been put on stage in Oslo and Warszaw. His second opera ”Opehelia: Death by water Singing” was premiered in Oslo 2006 and later performed in Germany and Poland.
The last years Hellstenius works has been investigating the meeting between sound, words, movements and image in staged concerts and music-theatre pieces, and in “personal portraits” of musicians, exploring personal material as a polyphonic strata.
Hellstenius is also a professor in composition teaching at the Norwegian State Academy of Music in Oslo.
Like Objects in a Dark Room
Music moves in time, like a landscape passing while driving. Parts of the landscape appears up front, passes by and disappears, while new things appears in front. Sometimes one moves slowly through the landscape sometimes fast. As spectator one can change between focusing on several of the objects in the landscape passing by, or just one object. One can return to a place which already has been passed. Returning one experiences the place differently, because this time one has seen more of the place´s surroundings. Seen what came before and after the place.
Like with the passing landscape, music always exists in a ”before”, ”now” and ”after”. Past, present and future. Music can not be seen or read in different orders as you can with a picture or a text. Music is tied to it´s own flow in time, from something to something else. But it can pretend to create a place or a room and not events in time. It can dwell on something, insist on something and not move away from this. Music can attempt to create in the listener an experience of objects moving cirkular in a room, rather than the music being a linear journey.
This is more or less how I thought when I wrote LIKE OBJECTS IN A DARK ROOM. I wanted to present a certain amount of musical objects; a pulse played by percussion, some oblique brass chords, an intense shimmering in the strings, a tipping melody played by winds, piano and harp which goes through a small transformation every time it returns, rhythmical breathing in the instruments. These are all pieces reoccurring in the music. The pieces are never totally similar on their return, they change both in colour and shape. They rotate around and in relationship with each other. The chosen objects are both mine and quotations from other composers I hold in high regard. So the objects do not pretend to be all original. It is the circulation that is the point more than the objects themselves.
Ideally this piece should be played in the dark with the audience surrounded by the orchestra, giving the listener a real experience of a dark room with moving objects on all sides. If this is not possible, the listener can always shut their eyes and pretend that the music defines a place where musical phenomenons arise and disappear, rather than a stretch of time.