I was born in 1980 in Oslo.
When I was 8 years old, I found my grandfather's dusty violin under the sofa. I felt an immediate connection and an urge to make it alive - to make it sound. I managed, and was deeply fascinated. Playing the violin was really something special, suddenly the adults were still, and some kind of different communication took place. I loved it and was taken by the strong wish of sharing. Sharing and expressing it all. All the “stuff” which stays “unspoken” had space in the music. This sharing of music is the middle of me.
Said with other words:
Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
My life path and my person have been formed and fulfilled by truly remarkable and unforgettable meetings, many of them through music.
I was only 11 years old when I first heard and met Yuri Bashmet. It was late at night, in a church in Oslo, and he played Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata and Shostakovich's Viola Sonata op.posth. The mystical viola sounds and the magical atmospheres he created inspired my immediate change from the violin to the viola!
The viola gave me new opportunities, and I was asked to play with far more skilled instrumentalists. I was invited for a weekend at the seaside, with three other girls (we were around 14 years old), to discover the string quartet. We read Schubert's “Death and the Maiden” - and were absolutely breathtaken. We couldn't stop playing, the music loaded us with pictures and imagery, we had to play it over and over again. The experience of playing string quartet was very special to me - to feel the common pulse and to try to understand and analyze the expression of the music together fascinated me, and it became a dream for me to play string quartet. The other girls and I all studied at “Barratt-Dues Musikkinstitutt”, which is a small and very fine music school in Oslo. Here I met countless fantastic musicians and teachers, and I grew fast into the form of a quite awake and active violist.
The most important musician I met in my youth is the Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud. He happened to rent the cellar apartment in my mother's house, so I could even sneak around listening to how he practiced. He is mad about getting the expression of the music clear, and would repeat phrases and bars till midnight and longer if he wasn’t 200% convinced. I realized that being a musician was hard work, and at the same time I understood that music was what I had to do. Quite soon I took the consequences and left my hometown Oslo, at seventeen, to start studying in Stockholm.
My sustainable memory of Stockholm is of the empty practice rooms and the music of J.S.Bach’s Suites and the Sevcik op.2 “bow exercises”. Bjørn Sjøgren, who was my teacher, is a very sincere man and he supported me enormously. He is an honest and humble person, and he showed me that music is so much bigger than we humans. Beside practicing and practicing in Stockholm, I listened through all the viola CDs I could find, and I decided that Tabea Zimmermann was “the” musician I really had to meet. Already in 2000 I went down to Frankfurt to listen to her teaching, and after entering her viola universe, there was really no way back. Luckily I succeeded and could enter her class a few months later.
There were always violists around Tabea, and the lessons were crowded by guests. Some of the violists I met were Danusha Waskiewicz, Antoine Tamestit, Micha Afkam and Simone Jandl. We were following each other in the class, and I think I learned as much from listening to the other students as from playing myself. She trains classical articulation hard and is merciless with dirty intonation. In 2002 Tabea got a professorship in Berlin and decided to move and to take her whole class with her. To enter the new university, we did a big “viola concert” (already a tradition of Tabea’s) and performed chamber music for violas at the “Konzerthaus” in Berlin. To be on stage with Tabea taught me things that are absolutely unique; about how concentration and relaxation can make music flow and how easy it can feel to play the viola….something close to flying, maybe?………Flying in Berlin was far from anything I had ever experienced; it was like the whole city moved in waves: some people slowly, some nearly dancing, bicyclists on the pavement and on top, the metro, which runs on long bridges above the city. Fantastic concerts and musicians from all over the world on every second corner. The total emptiness between east and west, and the strange non-existing division of the town: Berlin became a dadaist city for me.
I started to discovere life, and freed myself a bit from the disciplined student life. I substituted in the Berlin Philharmonic and discovered Argentinian tango in a backyard close to where I lived. Four saxophonists from Buenos Aires were playing live, and it was crowded with dancing couples. They were all in love with the music, and so was I, after creeping together on the floor in the salon. I couldn't stop listening, so I started dancing.
After a few years I danced all the way to Buenos Aires. It was and still is like a dream - my month in the capital of tango. Nothing is impossible there and the Argentinian grocers are fruit poets. I am sure they speak to the tomatoes and dance with the aubergines - I couldn't stop shopping! I didn’t just meet veggies , more than anything I had some unforgettable meetings with musicians in BsAs, among them “Pipi“ Piazzolla (son of A.Piazzolla), Fernando Suarez Paz (the last violinist of A.Piazzolla's quintet), Martin Pantyrer and Pedro Rossi. Pedro Rossi quite immediately asked me “what is your music?” and I shocked myself when I didn't know what to answer. The classical music is what I feel closest to, but can I say it is “mine”?…..i went straight to my instrument and started a very long search, both through improvisation and composing.
Meanwhile my Argentinian trip ended and my classical music path went on. After a recommendation from Antoine Tamestit, I started a Master in Chamber Music with Veronika Hagen in Salzburg. In Veronika I found the most warm and generous person - a great teacher and a friend. She gave me strength in nailing my interpretations and encouraged me to follow my personal wishes and dreams. The most special about Veronika was that she (kept listening to my scales) always did what she could to listen to my concerts - she even came to a bar to listen to tangos. In Salzburg I worked closely with the Argentinian guitarist Federico Diaz. We made modern arrangements of tangos, chacareras and sambas for viola and guitar. We still give concerts together, but now we are concentrating our work on contrasts. We put contrasting music and music styles beside each other and melodies from countries in violent relationships with one another are forced to “make peace” in one and the same piece. It is a quite crazy experiment and it absolutely challenges us - it feels like expanding.
After finishing my studies in Salzburg I decided to move back home to Oslo. My father and I drove the whole way up with my collected belongings, and I was very happy to finally be back in Norway. Unfortunately and also luckily I was, a few weeks later, contacted by the “Faust Quartett”: They asked if I wanted to be tried out as their new violist. The dream of the string quartet had kept following me, and over and over again I had tried to put together a quartet or at least a trio. But it is not easy for four people to stay together during studies, nor after them. Life brings so many possibilities and choices. For me, the chance to possibly play string quartet made me forget about all the other choices and all sentimentality about Norway. Half a year after driving up from Salzburg, I moved down again, to Cologne and the Faust Quartett. Being tried out in the quartet involved many nice concerts, and one of them turned out being life changing for me. We met up with the clarinettist Dimitri Ashkenazy to rehearse before performing in Rivoli. Besides meeting one of the best musicians and listeners I have ever experienced, I met a person who filled me with an immediate softness. The next day we crashed on the Italian autostrada and the softness turned total. We somehow managed to get to our concert in Rivoli without a car, and took our life-and-death experience onstage with us. We fell in love.
My life really changed. I had a string quartet to care for, a man and soon a baby. Life in a string quartet is quite particular. It is a school in seeing the essence and the real message behind, to find a common language and to find the channel and the tools to make the music free. It is a very close working relation where there is really no “privacy”, even my thoughts were naked. There is so much power and so much fun being four vital women in a quartet - it is intense, and also exhausting. That’s probably why I have started wanting to do everything by myself. It is a very nice change not to be depending on anybody. I am writing my own texts, making them into songs that i sing and accompany myself with the viola. This is at the moment the most simple and direct way for me to express the depth of my soul or maybe of our souls. I enjoy sharing music, and hope to share it with you soon ;)