URANIENBORG RECORDER PLAYERS
Uranienborg recorder players offers children and teenagers a serious teaching of recorder. The offer covers group and individual lessons at various levels of ability. The teaching gives a general music teaching where aural training and the development of creativity and music appreciation is the focus. The pupils are also a part of an active social environment with tours, concerts and seminars. Uranienborg recorder players are organized with their own committee, are members of the Norwegian School Orchestra Society (UNOF), and closely associated to Oslo City Music School (OMK).
The recorder is a serious solo instrument. It is also a superb ensemble instrument. In a relatively short time children are able to master the instrument well enough to play in a group. For centuries, the recorder has been a popular instrument. Therefore, there is a large repertoire of music especially written for recorder ensembles.
A LITTLE ABOUT THE PERSONS BEHIND THE URANIENBORG RECORDER PLAYERS AND SOME OF THEM THAT HAVE PARTICIPATED IN THE VARIOUS PROJECTS.
Svein Egil Skotte started the recorder Group together with Johan Nicolai Mohn in 1989. At the beginning they ran the orchestra together, but eventually the group was split in two; Uranienborg and St. Sunniva recorder groups .Skotte was the leader for Uranienborg and Mohn for St. Sunniva. The two groups have a close cooperation and have taken part in many projects together. Skotte has a degree with recorder as his main instrument and a teaching certificate from Norges Musikkhøgskole. From 1982-85 he completed a diploma study at the Royal Conservatoire in the Haag. He has been active as a soloist and chamber musician for many years with ensembles such as Oslo Baroque Orchestra, Barokkanerne, Christiania Consort and Duo Incognito. He has made soloist programmes for NRK (Norwegian State Broadcasting), both radio and television and worked with
many known musicians. He has taken part in several CD productions and has toured for many years for Rikskonsertene and played over 500 concerts. For his work with the recorder group he received in 2003 Oslo City’s prize as leader of an amateur activity. Since 1994 he has been employed by Oslo Music and Culture School.
Ruth Solveig Steinsland studied recorder and baroque oboe at the Grieg Academy in Bergen, The Royal Academy in London and Sweelinck-Conservatoire in Amsterdam.She has taught at several music schools in Sweden and at the conservatoire in Copenhagen. Ruth Solveig is at the moment very active as a baroque oboist and plays, amongst others, for Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble, The Swedish Baroque Orchestra, Concerto Copenhagen, The Norwegian Baroque Orchestra, Stockholm Baroque Orchestra and Oslo Baroque Orchestra. She has also been a choir conductor and taught recorder technique at Norges Musikkhøgskole.
Johan Nicolai Mohn studied recorder with Hans Olav Gorset at Norges Musikkhøgskole and baroque oboe with Ku Ebbinge at The Royal Conservatoire in the Haag. As a free lance oboist he has over the past years played with, amongst others, Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble, Barokkanerne, Concerto Copenhagen ,The Norwegian Baroque Orchestra and Oslo Baroque Orchestra. Mohn is employed by Oslo Music and Culture School and has been a guest lecturer at Norges Musikkhøgskole. Together with Svein Egil Skotte and others he has toured and played school concerts all over Norway, funded by Rikskonsertene.
URANIENBORG YOUTH RECORDER PLAYERS AND THE URANIENBORG QUARTET.
There is a high standard amongst the oldest recorder players, who have good opportunities to develop their potential within the orchestra. The activities are many, engaging and full of development potential. Under the leadership of Svein Egil Skotte, many talented recorder players have flourished. The oldest group, Storefløyt have for many years been the main orchestra for the recorder players and have been approximately ten musicians.
In 1998 a smaller group called the Uranienborg Quartet took part in The National Recorder Ensemble Competition in Britain. They won the first round in Coventry (in the oldest class 14-18 yr olds). In the finals in Cambridge they were awarded 3rd place. The quartet-Caroline Eidsten Dahl, Ingeborg Christophersen, Signe Christophersen and Alexandra B. Opsahl had good reason to be proud of their performance. Three of the girls that made up the quartet have continued their recorder studies to professional level. Caroline has completed her Diploma study at the Royal University College of Music in Stockholm. Alexandra has completed her B.Mus. degree at The Royal Academy in London with a 1st class honours. In 2003 she also won the prestigious Moeck Competition in London for recorder soloists. Ingeborg has been studying at the conservatoire in Esbjerg in Denmark and is now continuing her studies at Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam. She won the Norwegian Youth Music Competition in 2003 and was awarded the overall award ” The Years Musician”.
PARTICIPATION IN MANY CONCERTS
The concerts are many and the chamber group had the honour of representing Oslo Music School at the Oslo Chamber Music Festival and in the programme “Centre Stage” (Hovedscenen) in Norwegian State Television NRK 2. They have also played for the Church and Education Committee, the Crown Prince, the Town Council Committee for Culture and Education and at several conferences.
In the summer 1999, musicians from the chamber orchestra performed in” The King’s Children at Akershus Fortress” This was a cooperation with the author Torill Thorstad Hauger, in connection with the 700 year anniversary of Akershus Fortress.
The chamber orchestra has over the years held many church concerts and in January 2000 recorder enthusiasts took part in a “Draumkved”(Dream Saga) symposium at Notodden in Telemark. They performed a newly composed work by Eilert Hægeland.
In the summer of 2000 and 2001 the ensemble had a very successful tour in the south of Norway. In the Autumn of 2004, the chamber and Older orchestra and the Vivaldi orchestra held their own concert in Uranienborg Churchmusic Festival.
Starting up in1989 • Resurrecting the recorder as a serious instrument in Norwegian Schools
In the autumn of 1989, Johan Nicolai Mohn and Svein Egil Skotte started the recorder group with the ambitious aim of “resurrecting the recorder as a serious instrument in Norwegian schools.” After a tour of schools Bolteløkka, Marienlyst, St. Sunniva and Uranienborg where they played the recorder and presented an offer of lessons, nearly 30 children aged from7 years and older accepted.
Concentrating activity at St. Sunniva and Uranienborg schools
After a while it was found to be best to concentrate activities at St. Sunniva and Uranienborg schools. There was a combined group practice for the advanced players at St.Sunniva.
Joined the Norwegian School Orchestra Society and participating in district concerts
In 1993 the orchestra joined the Norwegian School Orchestra Society. The standard of the oldest group was so good that they took part in the district concert. In preparation for that concert the group had its first weekend practice at Hurdal.
Idealism and unpaid work at the start • Incorporated into Oslo City Music School (OMK).
There was a large degree of idealism in working with the recorder group. Many hours with unpaid work and poorly paid teaching was the norm for the first years. The whole was run as a private music school up until 1994. Then a part was incorporated into OKM. New opportunities were then open for the recorder players. The economic aspect was improved and the pupils got an even better offer.
Autumn 1994 and Spring 1995: a unique project of cooperation using seaflute (sjøfløte) and hardingfiddle.
The autumn of 1994 saw the start of the first of many successful projects that Mohn and Skotte organized. Besides classical recorder playing, they wished to focus on Norwegian folk music. Working with Steinar Ofsdal, they put together a unique project with seaflute (the Norwegian variation of a recorder).Ofsdal took part in group practices for the oldest pupils that autumn and Arne Aakre from Vinje in Telemark made the seaflutes for the whole group. In 1995 there was a seminar with Bø Junior Fiddle Group and a concert in Bø. Later there was also a concert in the Munch Museum in Oslo. What was unique with this project was the combined playing of seaflute and hardingfiddle and group playing of seaflutes, something that had hardly been done previously in Norway.
Telemark Festival summer 1995 • Irish tin whistles • 2nd prize in Oslo Kappleiken
The cooperation between Ofsdal and Bø Junior Fiddle Group was in all ways a success and the concerts received so much publicity that the recorder group was invited to Bø for the summer Telemark Festival. Per Midtstigen took over from Steinar Ofsdal. A group of the younger players played Irish folk tunes on tin whistles. The seaflute playing had become so good that the recorder group took 2nd prize in its class in Oslo Kappleiken in the autumn of 1995.
Seminar at Prestfoss in January 1996 • Continuing with seaflutes.
The cooperation with Bø Junior Fiddle Group and Ofsdal continued with a course and seminar at Prestfoss in Sigdal in January1996.There were also other instructors and participants, amongst others from Buskerud. It formed a fine frame around the course with music, dance, play and fun.
A big project with Latin American folk music • Concert success June1997 in the Gamle Logen • CD Production.
In the Autumn 1996 Mohn and Skotte started an exciting project in cooperation with INTI (six professional musicians from Bolivia and Chile) and Steiner School’s Girls Choir. Mohn and Skotte found suitable Latin American folk music, transposed and arranged them. The children started to practise in the autumn 1996. In the new year 1997 INTI visited the group practice. In May the recorder group and the Girls’ choir had a seminar with INTI. At the finishing seminar in June there was a big concert “ Musica Entre Cultivas” in the Gamle Logen. It was a huge success. A video recording and DAT sound recording was made and the sound was so good that Mohn and Skotte in cooperation with the recorder groups’ PTA produced a CD from the concert.
A New Prestfoss Course October 1997 • A new seaflute group • Combining Norwegian and Latin American folk music • 25”From Andes to Dovre”
October 1997 saw a new course at Prestfoss ,this time with among others, Skotte, Mohn, Tone Hulbækmo and Hans Fredrik Jacobsen as instructors. This course gave Skotte and Mohn the idea of combining Norwegian folk music with Latin American. In cooperation with Hulbækmo ,Jacobsen and INTI the project “From Andes to Dovre “ was started.
Summer 1998: work with choice of suitable music.
In the summer 1998, the musicians began the considerable work of finding a suitable repertoire. The starting point was “Musica Entre Culturas” and Norwegian tunes the children had already learned on the seaflute. After a lot of work, a choice was made but they had to be tried, transposed and arranged before they could proceed. The multicultural mass gathering “Du store verden” incorporated the project into the festival that was to take place in the autumn1998.
November1998: a sold out concert in the Cathedral • “From Andes to Dovre”- music as a universal language.
In September 1998 the first seminar with the recorder group and the girls choir was held. This was the start for further work at the weekly practices .The project was finished with two intense practice days and three concerts in the cathedral in Oslo the 6th of November. Two of the concerts were for school children and were a cooperation with the head of the schools in Oslo. The last concert was open to the general public and was full, with a large and enthusiastic audience .It was exciting for the children and teenagers to play together with professional musicians for an audience of other children. The concert opened also for a perspective on music as a “ universal language”.
Positive spin off • New interest in seaflutes • Free and spontaneous play by ear • New life in a forgotten tradition.
Working with seaflutes has had many positive spin offs The recorder group has rekindled interest for the old instrument and the special folk tunes associated with it. Seaflute playing is playing by ear and is a suitable starting point for music learning generally. The children get a number of tunes they can play without notes and therefore easily use for different occasions. Playing becomes free and more spontaneous than when one works with a note based repertoire. The recorder group’s pioneer activity seems also to have given impetus to a lost tradition in Numedal and Telemark, regions that earlier were the seaflute’s core area.
Production of high quality seaflutes • A new impetus for seaflute playing.
It is a challenge to get seaflutes that are similar enough to use for group playing. On an initiative from Mohn and Skotte, Norway’s only professional recorder maker Bodil Diesen started production of seaflutes. With economic backing from the Music Council and the Music Work Shop ,the recorder group were able to buy a large number of high quality Seaflutes from Diesen. This gave new impetus to seaflute playing.
Summer 1998: success at a competition in England • Concerts in England.
Besides projects, the orchestra has over the years a high activity in many areas. A group from Uranienborg recorder players took part in an international competition for recorder ensemble in England in 1998. They won the first round in Coventry and took 3rd place in the final in Cambridge. The orchestras from Uranienborg and St.Sunniva had a tour together in England in the summer 1998 where they played together with similar teenage recorder groups and held several concerts. The seaflutes got well deserved attention in a country with a long tradition with recorders.
Participation in large concerts • Many representative jobs for OMK (Oslo City Music School).
The recorder players at Uranienborg and St.Sunniva were chosen to participate in the large Jubilee concert for OMK in June 1998. They also represented OMK at Arve Tellefsen’s Chamber Music Festival and played in the programme “Hovedscenen” (Centre stage) on Norwegian State television NRK2. The quartet that won 3rd prize in England has on behalf of OMK played for the Church and Education Committee, for the City Council for Culture and Education and at several conferences.
February 1990: seminar and concert with the world famous recorder virtuoso Dan Laurin.
In February 1999, the orchestra, in partnership with Norway’s Music Conservatoire, the Grieg Academy in Bergen and Ingesund Music Academy in Arvika (Sweden) held a seminar and a concert with the world famous Dan Laurin. Again Mohn and Skotte used a lot of time and work to plan and find suitable music for the project. As an extra preparation, the youngest recorder players had their own seminar in Hurdal. At the finishing concert in the Lindemansalen in Oslo, they were joined by the Nordisk Barokk Kvartett. They had a very important function in the playing between Dan Laurin and the recorder orchestra. A large and enthusiastic audience was present.
Summer 1999: “The King’s Children at Arkerhus” • More concerts • January 2000: Participation in the the performance of a new composition with music from “Draumkvedet” (Dream Saga).
In the summer 1999, the Uranienborg recorder group, in cooperation with the author Toril Thorstad Hauger performed in” The King’s Children at Akershus” to mark the 700 year anniversary of Akershus Fortress. During 1999/2000 the chamber orchestra had concerts in Skårer, Tanum, Kongsberg and Fagerborg churchs and in January 2000 they took part in that year’s Dream Saga symposium at Notodden. They played the new composition by Eilert Hægeland.
Tour on Southern Norway Summer 2000 • The 11 year jubilee concert in October 2000.
In the summer of 2000 ,the chamber orchestra had a tour of Southern Norway and played concerts in Dypvåg, Flosta, Treungen and Åmli church. The concerts were attended by an enthusiastic public- summer tourists and permanent residents.
The 22nd October 2000 Uranienborg and and St.Sunniva recorder players celebrated their 11th year with a concert in Steiner school’s auditorium at Hovseter. A large number of musicians that had previously worked with the groups also took part in the concert and made the concert a Gala performance! Steinar Ofsdal, INTI, Steinerschool’s girls choir, Bø Junior Fiddle group and professional baroque musicians all took part. The concert was sold out and had a wonderful atmosphere. The concert was supported economically by the ”Kassetavgiftsfondet “ (Sound Recording Fund) and Oslo Music Council.
Pioneer work • Orchestra with full consort • Music teaching and social milieu.
Mohn and Skotte’s pioneer work has created an unique milieu around the country’s only two recorder orchestras with a fully developed consort. A large number of children have experienced this milieu and had their first music lessons from the recorder group. Even if the children do not continue with music, they have experienced playing an instrument, something they will look back on as being positive. Mohn and Skotte have created a social milieu around the recorder groups that is a valuable extra to the usual leisure activities at the respective schools. The chamber orchestras have also played at many arrangements in the local community over the years.
Administration, economy and media coverage.
The musical and social aspects are only part of the work Mohn and Skotte have put in. Projects have to be financed, applications written and followed up with contact to consolidate the economic help that is required. A lot of work is done to get PR for concerts. Projects are often presented in the radio NRK2 “Midt I musikken” (In the middle of the music) and mentioned in the capital’s newspapers.
Fra "Música entre Culturas" 8. juni 1997 i Gamle Logen i Oslo.