Born 1946 in London, England, but grew up in England, USA and Norway, with studies at UCLA, California, and The Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, receiving his BA (clarinet major) in 1975 and his Diploma in Composition two years later. Has taught at the academy since 1976, becoming professor of composition in 1997. He has written two books on jazz theory and one on composition and drama, “Thinking Art – composition and process” (not yet published in English)
Bjørn Kruse lectures extensively throughout Norway on the subject of interdisciplinary aesthetics, addressing students and educators within all expressions of art. The basic topic deals with concepts and models of understanding that all artists employ, and that this type of broad insight enriches the individual artist in his own discipline, as well as develops the aesthetical competence of all those who enjoy experiencing art, regardless of a particular expression. The lectures are offered in either the Norwegian or English language.
From teenage years, Bjørn Kruse was active for about 25 years as jazz musician (saxophone), composer/arranger, producer and studio musician within most areas of music, while teaching and composing preoccupied him more and more. His list of works now numbers more that 150, including compositions for choir, chamber ensembles, several concertos and orchestra works, and four operas, and his compositions are performed ever more often in Norway and abroad. His latest major work for stage was the opera “Den Grøne Riddaren” (“The Green Knight” / libretto by Paal-Helge Haugen), which was premiered in Kristiansand, Agder Teater, on March 10, 2004. Among prizes won may be mentioned the Fernseh Opern Preis der Stadt Salzburg 1983, for the TV opera “A Game of Chess”, and several of his works have won the Work of the Year award in Norway. The concerto for alto sax and orchestra, “Timaios”, was awarded the Jury’s Special Prize by NOPA 2010.
Bjørn Kruse was featured composer at amongs others, Festspillene i Nord-Norge 1994, Vinterfestspill i Bergstaden 2003, Risør Chamber Music Festival 2005, and MusikA Toulouse, France 2010. He is currently (2013) working on a 40 min clarinet concerto for soloist Fredrik Fors and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as developing an opera, with librettist Lars Saabye Christensen, through the program, “Works in Progress” (“Verker underveis”) at the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet. In Nov 2014, several of his chamber works for female singer and selected instruments will be recorded and published on LabLabel, titled Portrait with Hidden Face, featuring vocal artist Tora Augestad.
His latest major exhibitions of paintings were both at the gallery Albin Upp in Oslo, titled “Chaos and Order” (2009) and “Space and Time” (2010). Next exhibition is planned for August 2014.
… is probably the most gifted opera composer Norway has fostered since … have we ever fostered a gifted opera composer?
Anyway, his, and librettist Aksel-Otto Bull’s chamber opera, “PÅSKE”, at Kulturkirken Jacob last night was overwhelmingly impressive, both in craftsmanship, performance, production and expressiveness. (http://www.jakob.no/program/PASKE/) The score was modern in sound colouring, yet brought out the best of traditional opera as drama – as “theatre for singing voices”, and Gisle’s enormous wealth of professional experience and artistic talent leaves the audience breathless. Surely, if translated into English, this work will be performed on many major opera stages throughout the world.
… with the Norwegian National Ballet last night: Alveberg on Dreamt Ocean. A magic compilation of Kjersti Alverberg’s choreographies. We sat in the middle of the middle row at Scene 2 and before the performance started, the audience was asked to respect the many television cameras present and please not use mobile phones, because the light would disturb the filming. We had two large cameras three rows in front of us, with blinking red lights, a lit up run sheet and large screens, plus the two huge cameras obstructing the view. So how about the filming respecting the audience? Despite this disturbing element, there were standing ovations for a marvellous performance. Congratilations to an excellent ensemble of dancers and, not least, a world class choreographer and artist: Kjersti Alveberg.
… visited the academy today with a colourful lecture on his operas, ten in number, to be precise. Great music from a great communicator! Exploring the artistic potential of voice and electronics interaction, Unander-Scharin succeeds in expanding the opera genre on its own terms, as opposed to many other contemporary experimenting composers when writing an opera, whose works become something else, albeit within the music theatre genre. This is well and fine, by all means, but if composing an opera is not done with a clear mind of what opera is, often the effort instead serves to isolate and incapsulate the opera form as such, even though the end work is excellent music theatre. Unander-Scharins operas don’t “break the seal”, yet are experienced as being fresh and new all the same. He seems to be working from within the opera form (maybe because he is an opera singer composing), and not from outside of the form. That said, I’m really not really sure what distinguishes the opera form from similar other music-dramatic forms, but somehow Unander-Scharins operas have an unmistakably operatic quality. Wonderful! (See www.electronic-opera.com)
… is at first met with protests and indignation, but once there and after a while, it is deemed daring and exciting, says a major newspaper today about the Barcode Project and the new opera house. I wonder if that’s the case for contemporary art and music as well, given the chance…
… my new life situation as retired from the academy. Still at it with sporadic lectures in applied aesthetics, though, both at the academy, and other schools in Norway. The difference is that I only do it when I want to. Otherwise I finally have time to delve into my current composition, at the time, a 40 min concert for clarinet and orchestra, for the fabulous solo clarinettist Fredrik Fors in the Oslo Phil. My deadline is Oct. 1st, and I hope to have it performed during the season of 2015.