Photo credits:
Sarah Thorén

SCAS News - 28 March, 2019

Reflections by a Fellow - Anders Hillborg

What is it like to be a composer-in-residence at an institute for advanced study?
Anders Hillborg reflects on his time at the Swedish Collegium

“Every so often I get the question ‘from where do you get inspiration?’, and my somewhat
disillusioned standard answer is that ’inspiration is for amateurs, I have deadlines’. But being
a fellow at SCAS is a truly inspiring thing; it’s an incredible privilege to have the opportunity
to discuss with distinguished researchers from different fields. And the sheer beauty of SCAS
and its surroundings - the buildings themselves, the botanical garden - all this contributes to
make it a genuinely creative place.

To be a composer-in-residence within an institution dedicated to music is something very
different; there I’m surrounded by people in my own field. At SCAS however, I’ve been the
only fellow from the arts field, whereas all other fellows are scientists - this makes for extremely
interesting interdisciplinary talks. I believe that this meeting between ’creative’ and ’scientific’
disciplines is very important - both sides have a lot to learn from each other’s ways of thinking,
strategies in problem-solving etc. This is of course the heart of SCAS - it’s hard to imagine a
better environment for this kind of interaction to take place.

One very concrete result of my SCAS fellowship in 2012 was the occasion of two string quartet
concerts taking place in India. The brilliant Jyotirmaya Sharma, Professor of Political Science in
Hyderabad, arranged for the Stenhammar Quartet to perform in both Hyderabad and New Delhi
in January 2014, with music by Ravel, Mozart and myself - arguably the first time such a concert
has taken place in Hyderabad.

Another outcome of my fellowship was the master class in composition that was held at SCAS in
May 2012 by myself and American Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky. For one week
the seven students that we had accepted from all over the world did not only receive lessons from
us, but were also able, and expected, to attend the lectures and seminars given by other fellows at
SCAS. The Stenhammar Quartet was the resident ensemble for which the students wrote short
pieces that were performed by the quartet, in the Thunberg Hall, on the final day of the master class.
The master class started out beautifully with a lecture on string theory by leading physicist Gabriele
Veneziano, and was followed by string practise, i. e. a concert with the Stenhammar Quartet, perfor-
ming pieces by Steven Stucky and myself, among other works.

I do nurture the idea and hope that this could be a recurring event at SCAS - it’s invaluable for com-
position students to study in such an environment, where not only music is part of the agenda, but
where also other sciences have a natural place, thus widening the perspective. I’m very thankful for
having been given the opportunity to spend time at SCAS - the existence of this institution cannot
be overestimated.”

Anders Hillborg was a Fellow/Composer-in-residence at SCAS in the academic years 2010-11 and
2011-12, and in the autumn term of 2018. He wrote the comment/reflections above in conjunction
with his time at the Collegium in the autumn of 2018.

Read more about Anders Hillborg >>