– In pursuit of the openness of
musical thought and vision –
Hilmar Thórdarson

Composer Hilmar Thórdarson´s knowledge of traditional performance practices in combination with his explorations of new computer technology has profoundly influenced his musical voice. Indeed, he continues to push the boundaries of interactivity in music, in pursuit of creating a new kind of art form, where the boundaries between through-composed composition and the sonic arts are blurred, where there is a melding of the known and the unknown.
As a composer, researcher, and educator, Thórdarson’s oeuvre bears witness to this ongoing quest, as he creates soundscapes that further point the way to new unexplored possibilities. His openness to radical ideas is reflected in his compositions, whether that might be an interactive piece for a solo instrument or a full symphonic orchestral work.
It was in this spirit that Thórdarson created his interactive Conducting Digital System, or ConDiS, facilitated in part by a Norwegian Artistic Research Program. Requiring the wearing of a custom-built glove, called a ConGlove, the conductor is able to shape electronic expressions by controlling the overall balance, volume, tempo, and synchronizations of the accompanying electronic sounds, all while also conducting the performers.
His research culminated in his Kuuki no Sukima (Between the Air), for nine instruments and sonic landscape, with the conductor using the ConGlove. The work was premiered at the Virtuoso Listener Festival in November 2017 by the Trondheim Sinfonietta, with Halldis Rønning conducting. A Nordic tour followed, with performances in Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Denmark. Its final performance took place in Rockheim, Trondheim in November 2018, as part of Thordarson’s closing artistic research concert.
The ConDiS system has much promise for further possibilities, as there is still much to be discovered and explored. For example, how might the respective roles of a conductor, performer, and improviser be redefined by this invention? Even further afield, what if the conductor could fulfill the role of a video jockey (better known as a VJ) and control live images on screen while controlling other components of a sonic world?