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„National Anthems“ and „Advert“ at Ultima 2024

Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival (NO)

The Ultima Festival is a vibrant nexus for contemporary music in Northern Europe, attracting a professional audience and more than 10,000 visitors every year who take part in the diverse range of concerts, music theatre, installations, lectures and much more. In 2024, the festival will present three major international works that deal with themes such as identity, nationality, gender and community. The works will focus on the role of the voice, with the composers themselves also performing as vocal soloists.

The Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation is supporting the performances of the works National Anthems by Maja Ratkje and Advert by Laura Bowler at the Ultima 2024 festival.

Maja Ratkje's work problematises our perception of nation states and how we represent them through text and history as well as symbols and song. Using artificial intelligence trained on existing countries, facts and anthems about new states have been produced. These are presented on a separate, ‘fake’ Wikipedia page. The 30-minute work was commissioned by Ensemble Modern and the Kölner Philharmonie and will be premiered in concert form in Cologne and Frankfurt in 2022. At Ultima, the work will be expanded into a full-length performance, presenting a scenic dimension with flags, costumes and objects designed by set designer Tormod Lindgren.

Laura Bowler's work Advert deals with themes of identity and self-expression in our increasingly tribalistic society. It explores experiences of mental health, appearance, gender, privilege, politics and sexuality that cause people to identify with certain “tribes”. It also stages the composer's own vulnerability, whose body full of tattoos represents an obsession with self-affirmation and self-destruction. Bowler sings while being tattooed live on stage. The sound and image of the tattoo gun is amplified and used as an integral part of the musical and visual texture.

Further information:


September 18, 2024
Kulturkirken Jakob, Oslo

September 19, 2024
Cosmopolite, Oslo