Barokksolistene, founded and led by Norwegian violinist and Artistic Director Bjarte Eike, is a baroque ensemble that “brings the raw rhythms of Scandinavian folk music to…the high baroque” (Financial Times). They draw on their native influences and traditions to produce unique projects and programmes that range from performances of Handel’s operas to their unique, branded Alehouse Sessions. They are currently the Ensemble-in-Residence at the Bergen National Opera.
Recent highlights have included a critically acclaimed production of Handel’s Alcina with the Norwegian National Opera, a series of performances in Norway of a reconstruction of Bach’s St Mark Passion and a European tour of Alehouse Sessions.
The Alehouse Sessions have been something of an insider’s tip until recently but, with rave reviews including ‘irresistible’ [The Times], ‘fizzing with energy’ [BBC Radio 3] and ‘fabulously unrestrained’ [The Guardian], Bjarte Eike and Barokksolistene have take the stage by storm and their live recording of the project was awarded a 2018 Opus Klassik Prize in Germany.
Taking inspiration from Cromwell’s regime, under which English theatres were forcibly closed, Bjarte Eike has curated a performance which re-imagines a time when culture was driven into the alehouses giving audiences a window into this tumultuous period through a lively combination of Purcell overtures, English sea shanties, and Scandinavian folk songs thrown in for good measure. Using their own arrangement of tunes, these ‘Alehouse Boys’ combine this unique format with humour, an unrivalled virtuosity and flare for improvisation, ’creating the effect of a late night jamming session’ [BBC Music Magazine].
”I launched the project in 2007” explained Bjarte Eike ”and it was an immediate success gaining popularity with audiences from every background. So far we have perfomed in concert halls, schools, motor-bike clubs and, naturally, pubs of every sort of description. And even though the music, the stories and the dances get their inspiration from historical events, the project has now developed into being the essence of what the Barokksolistene’s operation aims to be – a creative energy center, where powerful, virtuosic individuals meet to create something unique, time-less, actual and genre-breaking – something that resonates with a modern and diverse audience.”