Educate·S - Interview with Østen Mikal Ore

Since 2016 Edition·S has published a series of works written for music school students, Educate·S. The series consists of collections of 10 pieces composed by 10 contemporary composers. Educate·S was initiated by composer and teacher Østen Mikal Ore. We asked him a few questions about the importance of introducing kids to contemporary music.

Edition·S: You reached out to Edition·S because, in your opinion, newly composed music for music school students was missing in the available repertoire. What do we have now with the Educate·S series?

Østen Mikal Ore: With the Educate·S series, we have gotten a noteworthy and important collection of new pieces intended for the daily lessons in music schools, composed by a wide selection of leading Danish composers. The idea was to revive and renew the old tradition spanning from Bach to Bartok who composed specifically for the young student and in that way created a connection between the grand works and the smaller format.
We commissioned these pieces with the wish that the composers would write their piece without compromising in terms of artistic ambition, approach and timbral characteristics - only in terms of technical solutions and the realization of the ideas. That is why we have had a process of dialogue and editing in order to contribute to the difficult task of making artistic, pedagogical and instrumental concerns all add up in a piece that is fruitful for this target group. The result is an impressive collection of pieces relevant for any music school library, covering the span from the new beginner to the level of MGK (preparation for the Music Academy)

Edition·S: Why do you believe that it is important for children and young kids to become acquainted with completely contemporary music?

Østen Mikal Ore: Children and young kids relate to their own time in various ways - from social media and literature to what you see around you in the cityscape; buildings, architecture etc. For instance, kids embrace the fabulating linguistic universe of Harry Potter and in the same way, they should not miss out on the imaginative wealth, marvellous timbres and new musical worlds that unfold when contemporary composers write new music.
You could actually turn the question around: Why is it important for kids to become acquainted with old music? What I mean is; the present time should be the point of departure and reference, which the historical tradition also suggests, right? The challenge has been that the music composed since the 1950s is often so complex that it has been hard to unite it with the pedagogical reality. In other words, there is often a 'missing link' - music which could open just a small door for the pupil leading into these musical universes. My hope is that this series will fill that void in a Danish context and introduce the student to new techniques, sounds and ideas through their own experience of playing. This might even bring a new repertoire into the light and open up to new possibilities.
Through these works the eyes and ears of the students have been opened up to the composers “close up”, and that might contribute to a larger understanding of this kind of music in a wider perspective.

Edition·S: Besides developing this series we have also organised a workshop and concert with music school students – an initiative which will be repeated this year at KLANG Festival. Could you describe the event and explain what the kids gain from meeting and playing music in this way?

Østen Mikal Ore: A unique meeting between the composer behind the music and the student behind the instrument takes place at this event – a very rare opportunity since you most often play music by composers who died hundreds of years ago! The event gives an opportunity for dialogue and inspiring insight into the composition as well as the experience of the student working with the music. The learning and the gaining of experience go both ways, and it is amazing to see how the students - across different instruments, ages and schools – build a community around the experience of playing this ‘unusual’ music. They all perform the pieces for each other, the composers share their ideas about the pieces and composers and students get a chance to talk about whatever they might be curious about. It all takes place in a relaxed and constructive atmosphere focusing on the good experience that might inspire you to perform new music at the next local music school concert. Inspired by each other and the meeting with the composers, the students perform the pieces at a concert at KLANG Festival.

Read more about the concert at KLANG Festival here.