Barokksolistene, founded and led by Norwegian violinist and Artistic Director Bjarte Eike, is a baroque ensemble that ‘brings the raw rhythms of Scandinavian folk music to…the high baroque’ [Financial Times].
They draw on their native influences and traditions to produce unique projects and programmes that range from their performances of Handel’s operas to their uniquely branded “Alehouse Sessions”. They are the ensemble in residence at the Bergen National Opera and have previously performed as ensemble in residence at the Oslo Opera.
The last few years has seen the ‘uproariously talented Barokksolistene’ [The Arts Desk] reaching out to a huge audience. Following last year’s accomplishments, which included recording all the music for the Shakespeare Globe’s 400th anniversary “The Complete Walk” installation and extensive touring in the UK and Scandinavia, 2017 is arguably the most successful in the ensemble’s history.
The year kicked off with a recording session for the legendary German label ECM with Norwegian keyboardist/composer Jon Balke and his project Siwan, followed by a sold-out Alehouse Session in Wiener Konzerthaus. May saw Bjarte Eike & Barokksolistene in a collaboration with imaginative director Netia Jones in a staging of Händel’s Messiah at the Bergen National Opera. A full house experienced a ‘Magical and beautiful’ [Bergenske Tidende] performance with daring audiovisual effects, ‘deft instrumental playing’ [bachtrack] and ‘impressive’ singing [Aftenposten].
Immediately following came the release of a new album, The Alehouse Sessions, on Rubicon Classics. A unanimous choir of reviewers raved: ‘an alchemical miracle of an ensemble’ [Gramophone], ‘A brilliant outing by a super-talented group’ [Audiophile Edition], ‘Unlocking the joy in music-making’ [The Guardian] ‘Rhythmically sharp and musically thrilling’ [The Arts Desk] are some of the praise expressed by the media. The album made it straight into the UK top 10 classical charts, and the following tour in the UK, Germany, Scandinavia, US and Ireland has been nothing short of a great success, with sold-out houses in London (Shakespeare Globe), Washington DC (National Cathedral), Minneapolis, Princeton and Dresden to name just a few places on the tour itinerary.
This is a group that will continue to expand its audience; with their projects bringing together elements of folk music and historically informed performance, and always with a passion for collaboration and new ideas. Nowhere is this more evident than in their signature project “The Alehouse Sessions”.
‘Any group that can have a festival audience performing an Icelandic football chant has to be doing something right’ [The Guardian].
“The Alehouse Sessions” – curated and devised by Bjarte Eike – is an ever changing and evolving look into the music of the English 17th century tavern. The group has been hailed as ‘irresistible’ [The Times], ‘superb’ [The Scotsman] and ‘fabulously unrestrained’ [The Guardian], and has diverted away from the traditional concert model by ‘creating the effect of a late night jamming session’ [BBC Music Magazine]. This is a project that demonstrates the creativity and versatility of the group in a single set, and returns season after season; each time with new ideas.
Further projects and collaborations such as their performances of the Malcolm Bruno reconstruction of Bach’s St Mark Passion in Germany and their performances of Handel and Mozart operas with the Norwegian National Opera and the Den Ny Opera in Denmark respectively, only accentuate this versatility.
“The Image of Melancholy”, one of the group’s first major recordings, was released on BIS and explores the use of melancholy in music throughout the centuries. In the same month that the album was released it featured as Recording of the Week on Danish Radio, going on to win the “International Recording of the Year” at the Danish P2 Prisen Award.
Bjarte Eike and Barokksolistene are based in Norway and were established in 2005. They are very grateful to receive support from the government via Kulturrådet and the community of Norway as proud ambassadors of Norwegian culture.