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På skive



Norwegian double bass player-composer Sigurd Hole was inspired by Roraima, the northernmost state of Brazil when he was commissioned by the Oslo World festival to offer work for the festival in 2020. Roraima is home to the Yanomami and several other Indigenous peoples, and like the rest of the Amazon basin, it is also home to an incredible diversity of animal and plant life. The album
«Roraima» weaves elements from the creation myth of the Yanomami people as expressed in the book «The Falling Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman» by shaman and spokesperson Davi Kopenawa (Belknap Press, 2013, co-authored by Bruce Albert),  field recordings of the Amazon biophony by American soundscape ecologist Bernie Krause and calls for solidarity (solidarity was Oslo World’s main theme for 2020) and our attention for Roraima’s ecological vulnerability and its loss of biodiversity.

Hole, who grew up in a vibrant sheep farm in the deep forests of Norway, composed «Roraima» as a «celebration of the soundscapes of the natural world, an expression of grief as many of these sounds fade away – and a prayer», after listening to the field recordings from Roraima that sounded like a perfectly executed orchestration,  literally, teeming with life. He adapted a few phrases from the field recordings into his work as a simple phrase with a very distinct tonality of the red-billed toucan that reoccurs in many of the different movements of «Roraima». The album was recorded live at the premiere of this work, in a rare live-audience event in between the Covid-19 lockdowns at Jakob Church in Oslo in October 2020. Hole’s ensemble features some of Norway’s finest musicians – sax player Trygve Seim, accordionist Frode Haltli, violinists Håkon Aase and Helga Myhr, cellist Tanja Orning (cello) and vibes player Per Oddvar Johansen.

Hole quotes David Bowie who once said: «Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming», and ask us – the listeners – to start listening to the magnificent orchestras of the nature of Roraima. The Norwegian musicians enrich gently the fascinating sounds of the Amazon’s rainforests with subtle, chamber themes, always respecting the most fascinating, vibrant and flickering sounds of the forests and the ancient wisdom of Indigenous peoples who still give us clues to a completely different approach to interacting with nature. In a way, Hole created his own sonic ecosystem, a highly compassionate and nuanced one that is fed and blend in with the field recording, experiment with delicate overtones and harmonics in a way that can be reminiscent of the rainforests’ light, and encourage improvisation of the ensemble, alone or together with others, as being part of a greater, interconnected whole. This captivating sonic melting pot brings some chilly yet harmonious Nordic sensibility and soulfulness to the torn and disappearing natural region of Roraima. The performance in the famous Oslo church only intensifies the modest, devotional spirit of «Roraima».

Hopefully, Hole’s moving work may reach the hearts and minds of the world leaders.

Eyal Hareuveni  

Trygve Seim (s), Håkon Aase (vio), Frode Haltli (acc), Helga Myhr (hardanger fiddle), Tanja Orning (c), Per Oddvar Johansen (vib), Sigurd Hole (b)

Roraima – Sigurd Hole from Sigurd Hole on Vimeo.

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