Bergen composer Edvard Grieg turns 175 and sister city Seattle celebrates in style
By Lori Ann Reinhall, president, Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association
June 15 marks 175 years since Edvard Grieg, Bergen and Norway’s most famous composer, was born, and celebrations are underway on both sides of the Atlantic. In Bergen there will be a 24-hour non-stop concert to mark the day, while in Seattle the big celebration will fall on the weekend: on Saturday, June 16, the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association invites you to its Fifth Annual Grieg Gala Concert Extravaganza at Ballard First Lutheran Church, 2006 NW 65th Street, at 7:30 p.m.
As president of the association and artistic director for the event, each year I am faced with a challenge: how can we possibly surpass or even match the quality of the previous year’s performance? We are always amazed by the sheer talent of the artists and the enthusiasm generated. But this year should not prove to be a disappointment, as we bring back two of our favorite local performers, soprano Laura Loge and violinist Allion Salvador, joined by Norwegian guest artist Knut Erik Jensen on the piano.
Norwegian guest artist Knut Erik Jensen from Trondheim returns to the Seattle stage for the Fifth Annual Grieg Gala Concert Extravaganza. Photo courtesy of Knut Erik Jensen.
Knut Erik Jensen is no stranger to the Seattle concert scene, with a strong following in the Nordic community. Both Jensen and Loge are recognized Grieg experts, and over the course of three years, they are performing the complete songs of Edvard Grieg under the sponsorship of the Northwest Edvard Grieg Society. On June 16 we will be treated to their rendition of the complete Haugtussa cycle. Grieg composed the music to s text by the poet Arne Garborg. It tells the story of Veslemøy, a young herding girl, her first love affair, and her first heartache. Loge will sing in the original New Norwegian nynorsk language, while the music itself serves to convey the story set in mystic, spring-like landscape.
To complement the Haugtussacycle, Jensen has chosen to play Pictures from Everyday Life, three solo piano pieces based on Norwegian folk melodies. In addition to Grieg, Knut Erik will be performing two other Norweigan composers who came in his aftermath. By popular demand, he will treat his audience to Christian Sinding’s Rustle of Spring, a classical piano blockbuster hit from the end of the 19th century. Also on the program is Geirr Tveitt’s Welcome with Honor. Tveitt was a central figure of the national movement in Norwegian cultural life during the 1930s, and like Grieg, many of his composition were based on the Norwegian folk repertoire.
After the intermission, Jensen will be accompanying local violinist Allion Salvador for his interpretation of Grieg’s Violin Sonata no. 1 in F major. Salvador is a rising star of the Seattle music scene, displaying viruosity well beyond his years. Two years ago he bedazzled us with his performance of Grieg’s Sonata no. 3, and we expect no less excitement this year. Sonata no. 1 is an exhuberant work of Grieg’s younger years, and while it also contains the dark, turbulent passages so typical of Grieg’s work, it will lift the audience up as Salvador reaches new heights as a now seasoned performer of Grieg.
Northwest soprano Laura Loge will perform the complete Haugtussa cycle, wearing the traditional Norwegian costume from the region where the story originates. Photo: Nels Peterson
Finally, as usual, there will be refreshments served after the concert, complete with a festive Norwegian kransekake ring cake to mark Grieg’s 175th birthday. Concert-goers will get a chance to mix and mingle with the artists and visit with friends. The tables will be adorned with 100 colorful cermanic flowers gifted to Seattle from Bergen, and local designer Madison Leiren will help dress up with occaision with colorful floral head crowns and wreaths.
Tickets for the Grieg Gala Concert Extravaganza are available on Eventbriteand at the door at the cost of $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, and $5 for children under age 12. For those with financial need, free tickets are available by emailing email@example.com. Doors will open at 7 p.m., and virutally everyone is welcome — velkommen!
Seatttle violin virtuoso Allions Salvador returns to this year’s gala to perform Grieg’s Violin Sonata No. 1, Op 8.. Photo courtesy of Allion Salvador.