Chi­nese com­poser pro­duces rare work with Nor­we­gian vi­o­lin­ist

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By CHEN NAN chen­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Nor­we­gian vi­o­lin­ist Eld­b­jorg Hem­s­ing vividly re­calls her first meet­ing with renowned Chi­nese com­poser and con­duc­tor Tan Dun, say­ing it was full of good mu­si­cal en­ergy.

Tan is best known for his sound­track for movies such as Crouch­ing Tiger, Hid­den Dragon by Ang Lee and Hero by Zhang Yi­mou.

He is also a rec­og­nized com­poser of or­ches­tra and en­sem­bles.

In 2010, Hem­s­ing was in­vited to premiere Tan’s vi­o­lin con­certo, Love, with the Trond­heim Sym­phony Or­ches­tra as part of the World Expo in Shang­hai.

Hem­s­ing, 28, was ner­vous. And be­fore she played the piece Tan asked Hem­s­ing about her thoughts on the theme of the con­certo and how she in­ter­preted the story.

“The theme was love and its devel­op­ment was through three parts of mu­sic. I ex­plained how I imag­ined the char­ac­ter in the mu­sic, and when I was fin­ished, he said: ‘That’s ex­actly the way I de­scribe it’,” says Hem­s­ing.

Since then, mu­sic has taken the two to a num­ber of per­for­mances in China and Europe, as well as pre­mieres, in­clud­ing the most re­cent Hem­s­ing record­ing with Oslo Phil­har­monic of a full al­bum of Tan’s works, com­pris­ing the pre­mieres of Fire Rit­ual-A Mu­si­cal Rit­ual for Vic­tims of War, Rhapsody and Fan­ta­sia, done along with Shen­zhen Sym­phony Or­ches­tra and Guangzhou Sym­phony Or­ches­tra.

The works mu­si­cally con­nect two of Tan’s big­gest in­spi­ra­tions — the rich tra­di­tions of Pek­ing Opera and the cul­tural im­pulses of New York.

Speak­ing about the Fire Rit­ual premiere in Oslo, Tan says as Oslo is a peace­ful city and Nor­way a peace­ful coun­try, it was fit­ting for the piece com­mem­o­rat­ing peace and the vic­tims of the war to be per­formed in the city, and that it was a mag­nif­i­cent ex­pe­ri­ence and full of pos­i­tive en­ergy for the fu­ture.

“It was an honor to work with Nor­way’s best — the Oslo Phil­har­monic and Eld­b­jorg Hem­s­ing — on this piece. It was also an honor to share the love of China and the wishes of its peo­ple for a peace­ful fu­ture through this piece,” he says.

The duo will re­lease the record­ings in China along­side per­for­mances in Jan­uary. But, be­fore that, Hem­s­ing will give three shows in Bei­jing and Shang­hai over Oct 16-19, work­ing with Tan again and fea­tur­ing works by him and Nor­we­gian com­poser Ed­vard Grieg.

“My in­spi­ra­tion for the reper­toire se­lec­tion is China and Nor­way, a cel­e­bra­tion of the cul­tural her­itage of both coun­tries,” says Hem­s­ing.

“The se­lected pieces cel­e­brate the two cul­tures that con­stantly in­spire me. And in a way my main ob­jec­tive is to use the mu­sic to fo­cus on the con­nec­tions that might have been pre­vi­ously over­looked, fol­low­ing the divi­sion be­tween the East and the West.”

The vi­o­lin­ist says Tan has shown her the beauty and rich­ness of China and the com­poser’s strong cul­tural roots as well as the very con­tem­po­rary melodies, in a way, that go “di­rectly to her heart”.

Like Tan, Hem­s­ing also has her roots in tra­di­tional mu­sic.

As a child, she re­ceived clas­si­cal vi­o­lin train­ing, be­sides learn­ing Nor­we­gian folk vi­o­lin and Har­dan­ger fid­dle.

“In a way, the two very dif­fer­ent mu­sic ap­proaches have given me a very strong foun­da­tion and flex­i­bil­ity in both the mu­sic as well as the tech­ni­cal as­pects.

“Though we are clas­si­cally trained mu­si­cians we must not for­get our roots, which have also in­spired some of the mu­sic heroes, in­clud­ing Brahms, Bar­tok or Tan Dun,” she says.

Hem­s­ing, who was born in Nord-Aurdal, Nor­way, grew up in a fam­ily in­clined to mu­sic, with her mother be­ing a vi­o­lin­ist.

Hem­s­ing started her mu­sic ca­reer with her first per­for­mance for the royal fam­ily at the age of 6 and made her or­ches­tra de­but at the age of 11 with the Ber­gen Phil­har­monic.

Her de­but al­bum, which was re­leased in March, is a pair­ing of Nor­we­gian com­poser Hjal­mar Borgstrom’s vi­o­lin con­certo writ­ten in 1914 with the iconic Shostakovich vi­o­lin con­certo No 1.

“The vi­o­lin con­certo by Borgstrom re­minds me of where I come from — the rugged land­scape of Val­dres and Jo­tun­heimen, where the sur­round­ing moun­tains rise dra­mat­i­cally over the val­leys — and the mu­sic makes me yearn for my roots,” she says, adding that af­ter Borgstrom’s death in 1925, the vi­o­lin con­certo was largely for­got­ten.

She also recorded al­bums of Dvo­rak’s Vi­o­lin Con­certo and Suk’s Fan­tasy and Love Song with the An­twerp Sym­phony Or­ches­tra in Septem­ber.

LISE KIHLE / FOR CHINA DAILY

Nor­we­gian vi­o­lin­ist Eld­b­jorg Hem­s­ing (left) col­lab­o­rates with Tan Dun (right) to premiere Tan’s new vi­o­lin com­po­si­tion TwoRhap­sodies, with the Oslo Phil­har­monic in Nor­way in Septem­ber.

Nor­we­gian vi­o­lin­ist Eld­b­jorg Hem­s­ing

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