Commissioned work

The Osa Festival is held every year at Voss in the western part of Norway. The festival is named after the fiddler Sigbjørn Bernhoft Osa (1910-1990) and is well known for it’s mix of traditional and classical music, also encouraging new works inspired by traditional music to be composed.

This year’s commissioned concert is Frode Haltli’s ‘Grenseskogen’ (The Border Woods) with Emilia Amper from Sweden on the nyckelharpa, Frode Haltli on the accordion and two percussionists: Håkon Stene and Eirik Raude, both of them well known for their work in contemporary music as well as baroque, folk and improvised music.

Frode Haltli, August 2015: ‘Grenseskogen’ is composed on the basis of musical ideas that comes from playing and interacting with experienced traditional musicians through years. These ideas could be rhythmical motives and figurations; well known harmonies as well as expansions such as the use of bitonality; modal scales which occur both in Norwegian, Indian and Arabic music. I have mainly used these elements in improvised playing with folk musicians so far. Writing things down on paper does of course give possibilities to develop the musical material more, to create unheard links and forms. New melodies sneak out of the old ones…

The Swedish national instrument nyckelharpa has a fantastic rich sound. It is like the instrument creates grounding in itself with its sympathetic strings that resonate a tradition several hundreds of years old. Especially when it is played by Emilia Amper, a true folk musician and innovator. Folk music is to me very much about vital interpretation and playfulness, and we have a fantastic Norwegian/Swedish ensemble tradition that I want to spin further on. The nyckelharpa and the accordion is in this work supported by percussion instruments we normally don’t find in the traditional music of the north, and they help to expand the sound. Hopefully this work can give some new perspectives on what folk music can be today, from a point of view where you can see backwards and forwards, to the east and to the west!