top of page
 cikada string quartet 
Cikada kvartett.jpg

Karin Hellqvist – Violin
Odd Hannisdal – Violin
Bendik Foss – Viola
Torun Sæter Stavseng – Cello


The Cikada String Quartet has gained a reputation far beyond the boundaries of Scandinavia as a special ensemble for contemporary 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 with accordion. The quartet’s core repertoire includes major works from the second half of the 20th century by composers such as Kaija Saariaho, Rolf Wallin, Luigi Nono,  Iannis Xenakis, Toshio Hosokawa, and James Dillon as well as collaborations with musicians across genres such as Annette Peacock, Steve Swallow and Trygve Seim.


Cikada String Quartet, "Island tour"



J.S. Bach – from Kunst der Fuge 4’


Witold Lutoslawski – from String Quartet (1964) (excerpt) 3’


Georg Friedrich Haas – String Quartet No 5 (2007) 22’


Eivind Buene – from City Silence (2005-2008) (excerpt) 2’


John Cage – from String Quartet in Four Parts (1950) (part 1&4) 8’


Krzysztof Penderecki – String Quartet No 1 (1960) 8'


Elliott Carter – Two Fragments (1994) 4’


J.S. Bach – from Kunst der Fuge 4’

"The Island" is an iconic metaphor that has inspired and fascinated people throughout history, from the legend of Atlantis via the famous painting "Toteninsel" by Böcklin and Tennysons "The lady of Shalott" to Victoria Hislops bestselling novel "The Island" (2005). The words of John Donne (1572-1631) "No man is an island, entire of itself" has become an established proverb.


The island reaches outwards in the geography, stretches the gravity field of the mainland, and defies the laws of nature.  But in this lies the condition for communication: the island can only be reached by traveling. And the people living there cannot avoid meeting each other, and thus, they are forced to interact.


Referring to his music in the Frank Scheffer film "A labyrinth of Time", Elliott Carter says: "My own music is a picture of society as I hoped it would be, hope it will be. That is, there are a lot of individuals dealing with each other, sensitive to each other, cooperating and yet not losing their own individuality".


The string quartet is a perfect laboratory for studying how people relate to each other as individuals (or islands) and as a group. The predecessor can be said to be the four part polyphony of the renaissance era, where the interaction of the soprano, alto, tenor and bass parts found an inexhaustible richness of expression.


We have been inspired by the subject of the individual versus the collective, and have created a program where we use the physical room to explore the boundaries of musical interaction. We present works by leading composers such as Haas, Lutoslawski, Abrahamsen and Cage, framed by excerpts from Bachs "Die Kunst der Fuge".


And up and down the people go,

Gazing where the lilies blow

Round an island there below

The island of Shalott

 - Alfred Tennyson


bottom of page