Allan Botschinsky

Den 3de Vej - The Third Way

An educational project developed further

When "rhythmic" composers (a group of rock, jazz and fusion musicians in Denmark) come together to learn to write for classical instruments, does that mean the end of rock, jazz and "world" music? No, on the contrary, they only have an interest in larger forms and in a try to expand spectrum of their musical understanding.

That was the concept behind the development of the educational project, The Third Way. The broad range of styles among the composers, who are all practicing instrumentalists, was the key idea. The desire to expand their range of musical expression and to acquire new possibilities was the common starting point.

Frans Bak, founder of the composers group had long played with the idea of writing music for classical ensembles. In discussions with collegues, he noticed a lively interrest in a "learning project" where "rhythmic" composers could measure their capabilities in the field of classical instrumentation. He needed a year to acquire the funding for the project, but in 1995, thanks to support from the Statens Musikrad and the Dansk Jazzforbund, The Third Way was ready for its first students.

16 Composers headed by Bo Holten as interdisciplinary instructor began an educational project with a very special character. Frans Bak organised a cooperation with some of the best orchestras in the country. The cooperation formed the practical basis for the instruction, where composers had the possibility to have their music performed. Their assignments were in part free choice but also in classical forms. The orchestras were very open to the works of the "new" composers. In this connection, The Third Way was greatly pleased with the cooperation of the Athelas Symfonietta Copenhagen, Tivoli's Symfoniorkester, Randers Byorkester, Musica Ficta, Ensemble NEW, Arion Kvartetten, Soenderjyllands Symfoniorkester, and Radio Underholdningsorkester.

The cooperation with the various orchestras was also further developed in workshops, where the composers had the possibility to work together with the musicians and conductors to try out and rework their compositions. The results were shown in concerts, which were open to the general public, which were greeted with great interest from both the audience as well as the musical and cultural scene in Denmark. The Third Way prompted lively reactions, positive as well as negative, but never indifferent, in the classical and "rhythmic" music circles.

The continuing development of the educational project was also influenced by a large number of important Danish composers. As guest teachers they instructed, lectured and inspired. Poul Ruders, Per Noergaard, Pelle Gudmundsen Holmgren, Hans Abrahamsen and Anders Nordentoft took a part and analysed their own works for the students, and Karsten Fundal taught composition. Frans Rasmussen taught conduction and Inger Allan instructed classical forms. Bo Holten was a permanent teacher in the course and conducted most of the concerts.

The goal of the course was initially to give the composers assignments to write for string quartetts, woodwind quintetts and also small ensembles, accompanied by music theory instruction. As it became apparent that the project would continue longer than the expected one year, attention was given to larger classical forms, aesthetics and composition. The course was rounded out by Karsten Fundal, who deepened the understanding of compositional methods, making clear the importance of development and structure of the musical material to support longer forms. His aim was to explain and systematise the various parameters in the creation of music.

Bo Holten found it a great challenge to teach collegues, who already had a profound knowledge of music and composing. He saw the possibility with The Third Way to bring fresh ideas to the music world and to demonstrate a new path which modern classical music could take. His thoughts on the creative process: "Our starting point was the desire to delve into the deeper layers, there where music and ideas are born. The medium in which we work has a great influence on the creative process.
In jazz the way is shorter, the time and proximity between composer and performance is relatively short, whereby the way when working with a symphony orchestra is much longer. Therefore the creative thought process in the creation of symphonic music is very different. Our goal was to shorten the distance between the act of composing and the performance, and so to bring a greater spontaneity as well as new ideas to the music. The composers were assigned to write shorter pieces within 1 to 2 months time. In this way music was created which otherwise wouldn't have been written." A process which Bo Holten considers to be a success.

When the course began, it wasn't definite how long it would run. After a year, funding for another year was approved and later it was extended for an additional 2 years. The educational project lasted for 4 years and since 1999, The Third Way has become and independant composers group (union). The leader of this new group was Ture Larsen. He saw his task in ensuring the continuity of an active group, which meets to discuss music and aesthetics and to organise concerts. "The Third Way has a new last name, but the substance is the same. We now have a unique possibility to dig deeper into the creative process." All the members of the group have experience playing live on stage, using the moment to communicate with the audience.

"Over the past few years, we have gotten an insight into how to bring our abstract ideas into the compositional process. A basis was formed and now we must continue the work and secure our achievements. This applies to the individual's own development as well as to the cooperation between the composers and the orchestras."

This Booklet presents examples of the material the composers have worked on over the past four years and what they have experienced and learned. The accopanying CD documents with various excerpts how The Third Way developed their musical language to include the "classical ensemble".

(Text from the booklet accompanying the CD)

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