The Cikada String Quartet is part of the Cikada Ensemble, formed in Oslo in 1989. The Cikada String Quartet has recorded several albums, the most recent being Black Angels, titled after the George Crumb composition of the same name. Cikada has also collaborated with many contemporary composers and jazz musicians. The Cikada programme will include the premiere of the seventh string quartet by Irish composer Kevin Volans (Up North! commission). Cikada will collaborate with Icelandic clarinettist Einar Johannesson in a performance of Linberg's Clarinet Quintet. The quartet will also collaborate with Irish jazz guitarist and composer/ improviser Mark O'Leary to create a new work during the festival.
The Cikada Quartet, whose members have occupied leading positions in Norway's principal orchestras, has gained a reputation far beyond the boundaries of Scandinavia as a special ensemble for New Music, as well as for projects at the nexus of composition and improvisation. Its repertoire includes works for electrically amplified string quartet, as well as works which combine acoustic string sound and live electronics. The quartet also often works in unorthodox instrumental combinations such as quintet plus accordion or a sax/strings octet in which the four string instruments are joined by four saxophones. The quartet's core repertoire includes major works from the second half of the 20th century by composers such as Xenakis, Nono, Feldman, Reich, Crumb and Hosokawa.
The quartet's discography includes several productions for ECM and ECM New Series. On "Birds and Bells"(ECM New Series 1665) a recording of works by the Danish composer Bent Sorensen, the quartet is represented with The Lady of Shalott. "Milvus" with works by the Swedish folk revival violinist/composer Mats Eden (ECM 1660) includes his first string quartet, in an interpretation by the Cikada String Quartet.
Cikada's cooperation with Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen is documented on "Hyperborean" (ECM 1631) as well as on Andersen's "rarum" compilation (rarum XVI). In 2000 ECM recorded "An Acrobat's Heart" featuring the Cikada String Quartet together with the singer and pianist Annette Peacock (ECM 1733). The Quartet's capacity to improvise was underlined during the period when the quartet played as an integral part of Jon Balke's Magnetic North Orchestra. The Cikada strings have also collaborated frequently with Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim and associates, as on the album "The Source and Different Cikadas" (ECM 1764), and Cikada cellist Morten Hannisdal is a member of Seim's large ensemble on "Different Rivers" (ECM 1744) and "Sangam" (ECM 1797).
The Cikada String Quartet performs the Saariaho, Cage and Maderna quartets at a special CD release concert at the Galerie Riis in Oslo on May 21st.
Cikada has just been nominated for the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize 2005. Previous winners of the Nordic Award include Bjork, Mari Boine, Palle Mikkelborg, Bent Sorensen - and Kaija Saariaho.