Composer Hugo Harmens was born in 1983 in Trondheim, Norway. He started his music education at the age of 17, studying singing for three years at the Trondheim Cathedral School, where his focus slowly shifted, from performing written works in the direction of improvisation and vocal experimentation. This led to a growing passion for creating new music rather than just performing already existing material.
Hugo spent a year in Kraków, Poland studying composition with Maciej Jablonski and Wojciech Widlak, as well as singing with Andrzej Biegun. After going back to Norway to study drama and music in Trondheim and Halden respectively, he spent some time in Chania, Greece, connecting with the artistic community there. In 2012 he finished his Bachelor degree in composition at the Rotterdam Conservatory (Codarts) with teachers like Robin de Raaff, Luc Brewaeys, Paul van Brugge and Jan-Bas Bollen.
The exploration of sound, musical language, gestures, textures and layers interacting with each other are central elements in Hugo's work. He refers to himself as a "musical explorer" and is not focusing on finding his "own" style or language at the moment, but rather being open to what those can be and become, and they are often a result of the creative process, and differ from piece to piece. Improvisation continues to be a source of musical impulses, and Hugo was the founder of the improvisation ensemble Room 5.22 when it came into existence in 2009. In recent times Hugo has gained an interest in complex textures and algorithmic (and computer-assisted) composition.
Performances by professional musicians and ensembles include
Telemark Kammerorkester (NO),
Zvezdoliki ensemble (BE),
Asko|Schönberg ensemble (NL),
Orkest de Ereprijs (NL),
Neos Brass (NL),
Bit20 ensemble (NO),
Anna Majchrzak (NL),
Gerdine and Gerda Tuinstra (NL),
Mira Benjamin (CAN),
Amsterdam Panflute Ensemble (NL),
Quatuor Bozzini (CAN),
Trondheim Sinfonietta (NO),
Nieuw Ensemble (NL),
and Elizaveta Sanicheva (RU).
Hugo is currently living in Victoria, Canada, and finished his Master's degree at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University (Montreal) in July 2015 (graduation November 2015). He has participated in several workshops, conferences and summer courses for young composers, such as nu:nord 2011 and 2012 and Domaine Forget new music session 2012. He is also a member of the Norwegian Composer's Society (NKF), previous member of nyMusikks Komponistgruppe (NMK), and as of recent a member of the Victoria Composers Collective.