Ola Kvernberg (1981) is a norwegian composer and violinist. He is been Stormen’s profil artist in 2019, and Nordic Music Days will present the final concert with the piece Mechanical Fair.
He is known to most audiences as a jazz musician but his works in recent years include numerous albums, movie scores and live projects spanning multiple genres, appearing both as leader and sideman.
Ola Kvernberg is Norwegian fiddling royalty. His grandfather, Peter L. Rypdal, composed wedding marches that still soundtrack most ceremonies in Western Norway, while his parents and sister are respected musicians in their own right. Kvernberg carries on in the tradition, though he has also found himself collaborating with the likes of saxophonist Joshua Redman, guitarist Pat Metheny, the Mother of Inventions’ Jimmy Carl Black, and even crime novelist Jo Nesbø.
The concert with Mechanical Fairs will be your ending concert of a year as Stormen’s profil artist. How has is it been?
It’s been fantastic! I’ve gotten the unique opportonity to put many of my musical impulses on display, ranging from my recent drum-heavy endeavours with Steamdome, via the commissioned cross-over chamber music with the amazing Engegård Quartet, to finally being able to give life to my biggest work to date, the Mechanical Fair – a project and production so big that I’ve only gotten the opportunity to reach it’s ultimate potential once before. And this time, it’s even a step further – with some new twists, a new visual set up and of course with the fantastic Arctic Philharmonic on board!
You are both a performer and a composer. How do you use your musicianship in your compositions?
In fact, I’ve only just recently started the occational commission for projects that don’t include myself as a performing musician. I think my relation to the violin (and other instruments) are essential to the way I write music – I’ve always strived towards being able to play what I hear, and once I manage to do that, the output is a lossless transfer from my ears to my instrument. I’m frequently composing music for film, and I’ve drawn some inspiration from the dramaturgy and methods of moviemaking, usually leading to consider my voice – my violin – to be assigned the role of the storyteller (rather than the leading role) – so, I’m there to connect the dot’s and do a little musical explaining to the listener.
A lot of your music is very «percussional» (rhythmic) and not what I mainly expect from a fiddle player. Do you have inner dreams of being a drummer?
I certainly do, haha! Actually, I’ve always been a sucker for drums and rhythm, but growing up in a strictly violin/piano-playing family, my efforts were limited to me acquiring a drum set at age 16. But my parents, who then had endured 20 plus years of constant violin and piano practice from me and my three siblings around the house at all times of the day, finally drew the line. No drums! So, digging into the violin from that point on, my percussive dreams were suppressed but quickly came on display as I started meeting and playing with amazing drummers through my studying years and all the way up until this point. It might have taken me a while, but I’ve finally realized I do whatever I want, as long as it sounds good. Strict genres are usually not my thing!
With The Mechanical Fair, Ola Kvernberg realizes a dream of composing for chamber orchestra.
The work that forms the basis of the album was the “Takk for prisen” Concerts at Kongsberg Jazz Festival in 2013. Originally written for quintet, the work expanded at the initiative of the Trondheim Chamber Music Festival and grew more powerful and bolder with the addition of the prestigious Trondheimssolistene. Together with Erik Nylander, Ole Morten Vågan, Petter Vågan, and Even Helte Hermansen, they fully explored the potential of Kvernerg’s musical playground.