Nils Henrik Asheim and Vertavo
Composer Nils Henrik Asheim (b.1960) combines his work with a career as a performer, as well as regularly collaborating with other artists on projects integrating spatial and theatrical elements. Asheim started out as a pupil of Olav Anton Thommessen and made his début as a composer at the early age of fifteen. In 1978 he was awarded the EBU Rostrum prize for his work Ensemblemusikk for 5. He subsequently went on to study organ and composing at the Norwegian Academy of Music and the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam.
From about the year 2000 onwards Asheim’s music displays a stronger focus on texture and the physical and tactile qualities of sound. His music presents parallel temporal proportions; Asheim works with layers of closeness and distance. Recurring material undergoes variation, thereby creating a form that appears open and self-generating. In the course of this same period Asheim makes his mark as a performer with his free-improvisation disc 16 pieces for organ and its sequel 19.03.04, Oslo Cathedral, and a collaboration with soprano Anne-Lise Berntsen resulting in the recordings Engleskyts and Kom regn. Asheim also appears as a pianist in various projects.
Nils Henrik Asheim has written several chamber music pieces including Vannspeil, Navigo, Chase, Nicht and Broken Line; his output for orchestra includes the works Speil, Turba , Wind Songs and Degrees of White. He has also written a number of large-scale sacred works. Since 1991 Asheim has lived in Stavanger where he is active as a composer, performer and organizer, and not least as the principal initiator of the founding of Tou Scene, an alternative centre for contemporary arts. From September 2012, Asheim is appointed organist at Stavanger Concert Hall.
Vertavo, founded in 1984, has earned the reputation of being one of Europe"s most outstanding string quartets. It won the 1st Prize for quartets, the Audience Prize for quartets, an unanimous Age Critic"s Prize and ABC Classic FM listeners" Choice Award for quartets at 2nd Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition in 1995. The quartet is regularly invited to go on tour, play at festivals and give master classes in Australia and New Zealand. They are also frequently on tour throughout Europe appearing in such prestigious music halls as Schauspielhaus and Kammersaal der Philharmonie, Berlin, Schloss Mirabel, Salzburg, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam and Wigmore Hall, London. They have performed at most of the Scandinavian chamber music festivals in addition to performing at the Bath Music Festival, England, Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, Finland, and Epinal Festival Musique de Chambre, France, and the Berliner Festspiele, Germany. Vertavo String Quartet received the Critics" Prize from the Norwegian press in 1996, and won the 1st Prize at the Nordic Chamber Music Contest held in Copenhagen the same year. In 2005, the Quartet were honoured with the Grieg Prize 2005 - a prize bestowed on an artist of high international standing and of which former recipients include Leif Ove Andsnes, Truls Mørk and the Grieg Trio. Since 2001 Vertavo is artistic director of Festspillene i Elverum (the Elverum Music Festival). The quartet performs on instruments lent out by Dextra Musica, a company owned by the DnB NOR Savings Bank Foundation.