A few years ago, musician, writer and philosopher David Rothenberg invited me to join him in several musical
projects involving the sounds of unique birds from around
While I stayed in Berlin we also gave some live outdoor concerts, playing with nightingales in various parks late in the evening in the city. Playing with these incredible birds changed how I listened to animals in nature.
During the same period Hardanger Musikkfest, an annual festival arranged in my home region of Hardanger,
commissioned new music from me for their 2019 festival.
The festival theme that year was “vandring”, a word with many different meanings such as walking, hiking or strolling. I had grown up at Maurset, in the mountains of Eidfjord municipality, close to the edge of the Hardangervidda National Park, and had gone hiking in this
region throughout my life. So the festival theme felt close
to my heart.
I have also felt involved with and connected to ecosophy (økosofi), founded by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss (1912-2009). This is based on the view that humans are part of an ecological system that is interdependent with nature, and that all of life and all of nature’s rich diversity have equal value. I wanted to include this perspective in the commissioned work “Hárr” as a way of focusing on its role as a creative inspiration, and to refer to the philosophy by using musique concrète from animals and human beings living, harvesting or simply enjoying the mountains’ gifts and abundance throughout the centuries. All this was combined with musical themes and fiddle tunes composed on the Hardanger fiddle, and later arranged and improvised together with the other musicians involved in the commissioned work.
In many ways creating music and hiking are the same thing, at least to me – they evoke an awareness of beauty, deep listening and presence when our spirit is open. You can experience them alone or share them with others, in silence or in conversation. Both require time, effort, patience and repetitive continuity. Both are also a reminder of something else, something larger than the individual self, that makes one feel forever humble as a human being.
Benedicte Maurseth: Hardanger fiddle
Mats Eilertsen: contrabass, electronics
Håkon Stene: vibraphone, percussion, electronics
Jørgen Træen: electronics
Rolf-Erik Nystrøm: saxophone
Stein Urheim: langeleik, harmonica, electronics, samples, percussion
All music composed by Benedicte Maurseth with exception of “Augnast” by Benedicte Maurseth and Mats Eilertsen, “Reinsdyrbjøller” by Mats Eilertsen and Håkon Mørch Stene, and “Kollasj I” and “Kollasj II” by Stein Urheim.
All arrangements by the musicians.
Produced by Jørgen Træen, Stein Urheim and Benedicte Maurseth.