UNM (Ung Nordisk Musik) festival can now, at 75 years old, count itself as one of the oldest festivals of contemporary music in Europe. For comparison: Donaueschingen (Germany) turns 100 this year, Darmstadt (Germany) is also 75, Warsaw Autumn (Poland) is 65, Huddersfield (UK) is 43, and Ultima (Norway) has just reached 30. An interesting paradox for a festival that, by definition, is focused on youth. I have attended and reviewed the festival several times, and 2021 will be my last year, as I have finally aged out of consideration.
Each year I am struck by similar questions: What does UNM represent for young composers? How does this multi-committee, multinational structure manage to create a coherent festival? Is there any point in trying to divine the future from what happens at UNM, or is it just a random assortment of pieces haphazardly glued together?