Henrik Ødegaard - Biography

Henrik Ødegaard, was born in Oslo 28.07.1955. He graduated from the Norwegian State Academy of Music as a music teacher in 1977 with bass trombone as main instrument. In 1980 Ødegaard graduated from his church music studies at the Bergen Conservatory and in 1990 he earned his diploma in compositional studies under the tutorial guidance of Lasse Thoresen at the Norwegian State Academy of Music. Ødegaard spent 1989-90 studying composition with Tristan Keuris at the Utrecht Conservatorium in Holland and the period of 1995-96 was devoted to studies in the “Gregorian Chant Class” at the National Conservatory in Paris with Louis-Marie Vigne as main teacher.

Ødegaard’s professional career includes positions as a teacher (at local music-school, primary, teachers college and conservatory levels), choir conductor, organist and composer. Ødegaard’s close contact with the amateur music scene, particularly through his work as an active choir conductor, has led him to compose several vocal works for varying ensemble sizes and age groups.

Both the miniature opera Du+jeg=to and the musical Anne Susanne i sol og regn features the choir in a central role – musically as well as dramatically. His work Spill din glede, composed for seven children’s choirs, has seen performances throughout Norway and the 1999 premiere of his church drama Kveikjaren at Voss saw amateurs and professionals performing side-by-side.

A substantial proportion of Ødegaard’s works are composed for the church. He is represented in the Norwegian hymn book (1985), and he has composed numerous pieces for services and concerts for the church room. In 1980 Ødegaard was appointed as an organist in Heddal Stave Church in Telemark, and from 1982 to 2006 he held a position as organist/choir conductor in Sauherad, Telemark, in addition to being an active composer. Since 2006 he is full-time composer.

Proprium Missae Nativitatis for barytone solo and string quartet (1989) is based on old plainchant material, as is also Sursum Musica (1991) for mixed choir, baritone solo and chamber ensemble. In addition, this work is partly based on Norwegian folk song, with its characteristic non-tempered scales, and contains micro-tonal elements. Transeamus (1998) for male choir, soprano solo and organ draws inspiration from Gregorian chant, and the electro-acoustic work Klokkesang (1990) can be seen as a meditation over a church bell’s resonance. The 1990 work Missa Festiva features a combination of simple, tonic chords and more complex, spectral timbres in a movement that sees melody and harmony utilising the same basis.

In 2004 the oratorio Der dagen er nattens bror was performed 7 times in different chuches in Finnmark, the most northern area of Norway. The ensemble Nordic Voices gave O magnum mysterium its world premiere at the Ultima Festival in Oslo 2006, and at the CD Gregorian key Oslo Philharmonic Choir sings several of Ødegaard works. hadIn manus tuas, domine its world premiere at Oslo Church music festival in 2007, and the oratory Sancta Birgitta had its first performance in Nidaros cathedral during the St. Olav Festival in 2008.

Residing in Telemark puts Ødegaard in the centre of a vital folk-music scene – a musical heritage that has proved to play an increasing part in his compositions. Ødegaard’s use of micro-tonality as a melodic element is part of the composer’s approximation process towards folk music.

Ødegaard has devoted much work focusing on the Hardanger Fiddle, resulting in such pieces as Nyslått (2000) – a concerto for two fiddles and chamber orchestra. The two works Sursum Musica and Stem nå alle gledens strenger (2002) feature a “kvedar” – a traditional folk-singer who performs melody lines based on micro-tonal material in a style that’s reminiscent of ancient psalm renditions. Ødegaard has also composed major works for brass ensemble, many solo songs and a great number of choir pieces using material and esthetics from Gregorian chant.

The following institutions and persons have commissioned works from Henrik Ødegaard: Oslo Chamber Choir, Oslo Philharmonic, Telemark Brass Ensemble, Telemark Chamber Choir, Telemark Chamber Orchestra, Ultima (Oslo Contemporary Music Festival), Ny Musikk-Oslo, The Boys Choir in Oslo Cathedral, Berit Opheim, The Assosiation Of Norwegian Children- and Youth Chiors, Norsk kirkesangforbund, Norsk organistforbund, Osa-festivalen, Norges studentersangforening.

His works have been performed at the major norwegian music festivals: The Bergen International Festival, St. Olav Festival in Trondheim, Oslo Chamber Music Festival, Oslo Internasjontional Church Music Festival, Ilios-festivalen i Harstad, Nordland Music Festival in Bodø, The Fartein Valen Festival in Haugesund/Valevåg and The Osa Festival at Voss.

In 2004 he gained the 1st. and 3rd. prize in the composing competition of ”International Choral Art Festival” i Jihlava, Czech Republic, with two movements from Three Gregorian Antiphons. In 2009 he was the festival composer at The Fartein Valen Festival, as well as recieving tha Farten Valen scholarship.

Ødegaards music has been performed in all scandinavian countries as well as in Poland, The Czech Republic, Hungaria, Italy, France, Ireland, South-Africa, Japan og USA.

After studying in France Ødegaard has taken part in adapting songs from the gregorian tradition to use with Norwegian words, in Norsk kantoribok III (1998), through work for the organisation Musica Sacra and in the book Nådens morgenlys, a medieval Olav-liturgy for our time (Tapir, 2005). .

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