UNM has gradually revealed itself to me during the years I have been on the Swedish board. I joined in 2015 as a way to stay in touch with art music. I had just finished my composition studies at Gotlands Tonsättarskola and hadn’t yet applied for any further education. Just birthed into a relative world of composition and art music, I was so confused. Nothing was certain any more; what music is, why I create, for whom, what a composer is, what responsibilities comes with being one, how you do it, what the point is, etcetera etcetera. This was the thing now – I knew I wanted to continue down the road of whatever ”this” was, but I was very insecure about how to do it.

I joined UNM knowing it was a festival of contemporary art music for young composers. I got a tip from a friend to participate in one of the board meetings, get to know a bit more to see if I would like to get involved. The Swedish board had recently finished the production of the UNM festival in Malmö 2014 the year before. It still felt kind of abstract – what is UNM when there’s no festival to be produced again until in five years?

I went to the festivals hosted by Finland and Denmark the years after and saw that UNM – among other things – is a community. I also learnt that it’s working together in a board, it’s monthly meetings, it’s arranging and accommodating for artists, it’s staying in contact with the contemporary art/music scene, with performers and musicians, it’s logistics, it’s applications for funding, it’s preparations, it’s making decisions, it’s reflecting upon what we would like to be and trying new things. Especially now when UNM Sweden yet again stand as hosts for the festival, it feels very clear that it’s not only about what will be sounding.

UNM is not a springboard for young artists into ”the real world”, but a very real learning by doing. To me it has become evident that UNM will be whatever we make it out to be. What gets me so excited is the possibilities that comes with this realisation. For this year’s festival, what sort of platform would we like to be? How can we work with the given circumstances and practice our responsibility? What do we want to make room for? What would we like to try this time? Still filled with questions, the sense of insecurity has been replaced with reliance and anticipation.

Kajsa Antonsson

Author Kajsa Antonsson

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