A very new spring…

Some years seem to be all about doing new things, thinking in new ways and getting new perspectives. Up until now 2014 is one of those years. From the end of April to the end of May I will have performed nine new pieces. That's nine different musical countries and continents and landscapes to assimilate myself into! Will I loose myself and get lost in the mace of tonalities and rhythms? Or will it be a walk in the park? I'm guessing somewhere in between.

First... "Lux Illuxit- officium st Olav". Here, I am working with Elisabeth Vatn, Poul Høxbro, Britt Pernille Frøholm and Anders Røine, to create a musical web in, out and around the Office of St Olav (from  around 1170), using folk music, improvisation and all the musical knowledge we have of medieval music. OK, the music is not new. But the setting and the sound will be.

 Then... Gotland and seven new pieces for song and piano, written by seven young composers studying at Gotland school of Music Composition.Kenneth Karlsson and I have been working with these students over the past year and now it's finally time for us to show the world these musical treasures! There is hope for the future! We have some great music here and the process has been very exciting!

After Gotland I will travel to Piteå, "New Directions Festival" together with Cikada. World premiere of Henrik Hellstenius "Sounds of places and words". Talking about this project without using too many superlatives will be hard. Both Henrik and Cikada are two of my all time favorites, so I will just leave it there.

In between all this I will record the opera Ophelias:death by water singing (with superb colleagues such as Tora Augestad, Silje Aker Johnson, Ebba Rydh and ensemble Cikada). Now this! Again it's the work of Henrik Hellstenius and it's… No, I will have to write a post of its own about "Ophelias…" Coming soon. (in the meantime you can see video clips from the premiere performance on my Media page)

There will also be some "Old" music: Lully and Bach at Trollhättan tidigmusikdagar (and a gig in the local pub with Odd Size. No rules- just music.)

All of this in May.  So...come what May?

Falling into autumn into winter...

Autumn is almost over. A period full of events going into more peaceful times. I've sung, taught, travelled, had adventures and  tried to be calm in the middle of it.

Tired and unhappy vocal chords have forced me to stop for a while and look beyond the obvious: why I sing, with whom, for whom, for what reason?

The first thing is easy: I sing because I do. I sing ergo sum.

With whom? With the very best musicians. Or, really, the ones who let the music and the interaction between the music and their fellow musicians shine brighter than our ego, and who pay greater respect to the music than the printed score.

For whom do I sing? I really don't know and I really don't care. Yes, I do care, but do they? For everyone who will listen. It always surprises me when someone mentions that the music I sing can sometimes be "difficult" or advanced. My goal is certainly not to appear more complex than I am, or that I've understood some things that others haven't. As simple and annoyingly sympathetic as it may sound, my goal is to reach people's hearts, to find or give some peace.

For what reason? Because music and art is my religion. Because everything is equally important when making music- the score, the instruments, the room, the time of the day and the audience- and when it  all works together we can all feel as big as we really are.

That's why. Maybe.


To see what I have done, if you're interested, go to  "After this summer…". I've done it all and it was every bit as good as it sounded before I did it.

Among the upcoming projects this year are a concert in my home town Gothenburg, with the dream team  "Holmertz-Bock-Høxbro" and music from our CD "Sounds, Sweet Airs and the Art of Longing", and two concerts with the new ensemble Odd Size. Our first mission is The Messiah. Did I mention that we are four?


The future? Music I hope. And I'll be teaching (which I do all the time and which I love) and Kenneth Karlsson and I will be working with composition students in Visby, Gotland. Wonderfully exciting!

And I'll keep moving. Keep falling in and out of place. Keep trying to find peace.


Arne Nordheim at Henie Onstad Art Centre

Sunday oct 6th at Henie Onstad Art Centre outside Oslo.

"Music by the great Arne Nordheim. Fem Kryptofonier, together with Cikada Duo.

Fem Kryptofonier was commissioned by Cikada Duo and premiered in Culture Jakob in 2001 together with Hilde Torgersen. Whenthe notes were delivered to the musicians, the work was unfinished and Nordheim's ideas were further developed in dialogue withCikada Duo through workshop-like samples. The texts are taken from the Greek poet Arkhilokhos, who lived 600 BC. Arkhilokhos iswell known for his lush language and is one of the earliest known Greek authors who chose the theme from his own feelings and experiences. The only thing that today is preserved by Arkhilokhos texts are fragments of poems. The work is sung in ancient Greekas it was composed for the premiere."

Read more

You don't need a personal geisha...




A very, very nice review of Sounds, sweet airs and the art of longing. Klassisk Musikkmagasin 3/13.

read review (in norwegian)

English translation:

Even if I had my own personal geisha, I doubt if I would be more charmed by her than by this CD. It is easy to be a little wary of a Cd with English music from the 17th, 18th and 20th centuries, coupled with four songs composed by Benedikte Torget (b. Oslo 1970) setting poems by the Brontë sisters.

But this CD is extremely effective, not least because of the interpretation by Elisabeth Holmertz. She treats the material like folk music – new and fresh from stream and meadow – and is supported by the characteristic celtic tones of Poul Høxbro's low whistle.

Frederik Bock's discreet accompaniment on barock guitar and theorbo also adds to the folk music effect.
Holmertz is obviously an accomplished actress. She gives life to each song and forms them into small dramatic ”scenes”, almost as if she places her hand on your shoulder and looks directly into your eyes – and all the while the purity of her sound makes the hairs rise on the back of your neck.

Explore this recording. Whatever problems you have, they will be wiped away within the hour.

(english translation by Helen Davies Mikkelborg)

CD of the week

"Sounds, sweet airs and the art of longing"  is "CD of the week" in the Danish Radio- "Ugens cd".



Engelske ballader – Sounds, sweet airs and the art of longing

En lut klimprer delikat, sangerinden synger sine melankolske vers om kærlighedens trængsler, og en spillemand supplerer med bløde fløjtemelodier. Lyden af England i 1600-tallet er vakt smukt til live på Ugens Cd. Men ikke al musikken er så gammel, som den giver sig ud for!

En lille genistreg
De tre musikere har lavet en lille genistreg, da de programlagde repertoiret til cd'en med den lange titel "Sounds, sweet airs and the art of longing". Grundlaget er engelske sange fra 1600-tallet. En storhedstid fra engelsk musik, bedst kendt for komponisterne Purcell og John Dowland, men her repræsenteret af de lige så gode Henry Lawes og Nicholas Lanier.
Side om side med baroksangene står melodier af Vaughan Williams - Englands svar på Carl Nielsen -og nye sange af en norsk singer/songwriter! Fælles har de balladestilen og sansen for det skønne og melankolske.

Ørehængere med finfølelse
Sammenblandingen af musik fra 400 år er hverken bedrag eller illusion, men en fantastisk fin registrering af musikalske fællestræk. Cd'ens tre første numre demonstrerer det elegant: Først en "folkevise" af Vaughan Williams, skrevet i 1901 til vers af Shakespeare, så en barokmelodi af Henry Lawes og derefter den helt nye "Divine" af den norske sangskriver Benedicte Torget til tekst af Emily Brontë. Alle tre ørehængende melodier, alle tre sunget og spillet med stor finfølelse.

Dansk, svensk, norsk, engelsk
Trioen er dansk-svensk: Den svenske sopran Elisabeth Holmertz og lutenisten Fredrik Bock kan ofte høres i dansk musikliv (tip: Se efter en uhåndterlig lutkasse i den københavnske metro), mens fløjtenisten Poul Høxbro fra Danmark er pioner indenfor middelalder- og barokmusik. På Ugens Cd har de fundet et materiale, der klæder dem fantastisk godt. De små sange får virkelig nærvær. Og at engelsk romantik og nye norske ballader fungerer udsøgt på lut og irsk blikfløjte - ja, det ved man så nu!

In the paper.

An article in norwegian about me, my musical visions and a few words about a few of the things I'm doing. There is so much more to be said, so very much more, but still...

Klick here:


Published in Vårt Land 22/7-2013. Written by Olav Solvang

After this summer...

It's full summer. The kind of summer we in Scandinavia haven't seen in years. The kind of summer that makes one's thoughts melt and your whole being move slower. For me this summer has meant, and means, a lot of well-needed peace and quiet, gardens, flowers and greenery.
But! Autumn will come! And this autumn is nicely packed with exciting work with excellent and wonderful music and artists. Like…
Lovely Helen Davies and Poul Høxbro and a concert at Rudolph Tegners museum. And...
Performances of Desiring Machines in Oslo, Drammen and Gothenburg. And...
A premiere, for me, with the magical baby opera Korall Koral. And..!
Looking very much forward to a concert in Gothenburg with Poul Høxbro and Fredrik Bock and our English program…
And more!
I also look forward to continue teaching singing at Asker Kulturskole. Meeting young students and having the privilege of doing so every week is more exciting and fulfilling than I could ever have imagined.
Please check calendar, "projects" and links for more information.



A great review for Sounds, sweet airs and the art of longing (norwegian)

"Dette er en sangskatt, formidlet av en vokalkunstner med en formidlingsevne som er strålende. Elisabeth Holmertz benytter tekstenes innhold til å ta frem den helt spesielle sangen - til hver eneste lille melodi. Vi «hører» smerten, frekkheten, sorgen og lykken som formidles i disse tekstene. Eminent utført med andre ord.

Hennes to medmusikere, Fredrik Bock på teorbe og barokkgitar, samt Paul Høxbro på Low whistle - en irsk tradisjonsfløyte, er virkelig med på å underbygge betydning av teksten.

De tre musikerne har tatt for seg stykker som er komponert etter den virkelig store sangkomponistene i musikkhistorien, John Dowland. Dowland er en av de største britiske komponistene gjennom tidene, og hans musikk for sang og lutt tilhører i dag standardrepertoaret.

På denne platen er det Henry Lawes (1595-1662) og Nicholas Lanier (1588-1666) som har skrevet sanger som både er enkle og komplekse, og som åpner for musikernes egen kreativitet og tolkning. Tekstene er i mange tilfeller de samme som Dowland brukte, men selve ”sounden” er mer tidløs.

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ (1882-1958) sanger inneholder spor av fordums tid og folkemusikk, og står i direkte forbindelse med den lange engelske sangtradisjonen. Vi får høre noen sanger som er fargelagt med klanger fra low whistle og teorbe.

Den norske komponisten og dirigenten Benedicte Torget (1971) tar lytteren helt inn i nåtiden, men musikken hennes fungerer som en god brobygger til de gamle melodiene.

Alt i alt er dette en plate med stor spennvidde, både musikalsk og historisk. Og formidlingen er helt nydelig."

Smaalene Trond Eriksen 30/5-2103


Desiring machines

Soon Bergen international festival and Desiring Machines.

"Desiring machines" is: Mythical and historical women presented through a kaleidoscope of voices, instruments, electronics and video.
A large female family album: Marilyn Monroe, Ofelia, Leni Riefenstahl, Valerie Solanas, Magda Goebbles… (more info in Projects)


Vespero della Beata Vergine, Claudio Monteverdi

This has to be my favorite piece of amazing music and it's, almost, always such a JOY to sing it. This time, in Trollhättan, Sweden, it was wonderful. Thank you Mattias Eklund and Trollhättan Motettkör. Thank you great musicians. Thank you fellow fabulous soloists: Hanna Kappelin, Tobias Nilsson, Leif Aruhn-Solén, Johan Linderoth and Gustav Eriksson.

A while ago, in 2000, I sang my very first Vespers. With academy baroque d'Ambronay. A bunch of young, eager and restless singers and musicians under the spell and control of Gabriel Garrido had some magical moments and memories for life. Luckily it was filmed. Luckily someone put the whole thing on youtube.