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Wednesday 27 March 20:00

Sofienberg Church

NOK 350/250

Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Photo: Antonio Armentano



Persian poetry with Scandinavian jazz musicians

Rumi Songs is a song cycle composed by musician and composer Trygve Seim, on commission from Tora Augestad and Anne-Lise Berntsen. The work is based on texts by the Persian poet Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207‒1272) from Coleman Barks' modern retelling. Seim has developed Rumi Songs for several years and drew inspiration from many sources beyond Rumi's beautiful poems. The song cycle is characterised by Seim's genre-free and eclectic approach to music, with inspiration and musical elements from European and American music as well as the oriental music in which Seim has immersed himself through his many trips to the Arab world. In the process of working on Rumi Songs, Seim also made a trip to the Turkish city of Konya, where Rumi spent most of his life.

Rumi Songs is written for Tora Augestad (mezzo-soprano), Frode Haltli (accordion), Svante Henryson (cello), Asle Karstad (sound producer) and Trygve Seim himself (saxophone). Erling Kittelsen also contributes to this concert. Alongside his own formidable production of poetry and prose, he has reinterpreted a number of Sufi poets, including Rumi. Kittelsen talks about Rumi and Sufism and recites his own Rumi reinterpretations between the musical passages. There is also a recitation accompanied by instrumental music composed exclusively for this performance.


Trygve Seim was educated at the jazz conservatory in Trondheim and since 1992 has worked full-time as a musician, composer and arranger. He worked on no less than 22 albums produced by Manfred Eicher on Eicher's renowned record label ECM Records – 8 of these under his own name. The saxophonist has made his mark on recent Norwegian jazz history, including as initiator and driving force behind ensembles such as Airamero, The Source and the Trygve Seim Ensemble, as well as in bands led by Manu Katché, Iro Haarla, Jacob Young and Sinikka Langeland. Seim has also studied Egyptian music and toured widely in the Arab world and India.

Tora Augestad is a versatile and sought-after mezzo-soprano. As a performer, she is flexible, expressive, precise and dramatically convincing. Augestad works with music from the 20th and 21st centuries and masters a variety of genres and different expressions. She studied classical music and jazz in Oslo, Stockholm, Berlin and Munich before graduating in cabaret singing at the Norwegian Academy of Music. In 2015 she was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize. Augestad is also one of two artistic directors for the Hardanger Music Festival.

Frode Haltli is a Norwegian accordion player. Since 2011, he has taught accordion at the Norwegian Academy of Music. Haltli received his education at the same institution and also completed a soloist class at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. He has won the Norwegian national accordion competition seven times, won the NRK Talentia contest in 1991, received the 1991 Hedmark County Cultural Prize, and won silver in the International Gaudeamus Competition in 1999. During the Bergen International Festival in 2000, he was named Rikskonsertenes (Concerts Norway's) "Young Artist of the Year" in 2001. The same year Haltli received Musikkens Venner's debutant award.

Svante Henryson started his career as a rock bassist in Umeå before switching to jazz. His talent, along with a robust education, earned him a place as solo contrabassist in the Oslo Philharmonic. Later he went to the United States and joined guitar legend Yngwie Malmsteen's hard rock band. As one of the Nordic region's leading bassists in many constellations, spanning genres and national borders, Henryson has profiled himself as a charismatic soloist and chamber musician, and is sought-after by well-known names such as Martin Fröst, Elvis Costello, Jon Balke and Anne Sofie von Otter. Henryson has also achieved major success as a composer.

Photo: Knut Bry

Erling Kittelsen.jpg

Erling Kittelsen is an author, lyricist and translator. Since 1970 he has released several poetry collections, novels and plays. He has translated and reinterpreted works by He Dong, Jamshed Masroor and Jalal al-Din Rumi. Kittelsen is a pioneer in collaborating with exile poets and has reinterpreted their poetry in Norwegian. In addition, he has collaborated with language experts on reinterpretation of Latvian folk poetry and classical texts from Persian, Sumerian and Korean. Kittelsen has received the Aschehoug Prize (1990), Språklig samling's Literature Prize (1999), Dobloug Prize (2002) and Vindtorn Prize (2017).

Earlier Event: March 26