Synne Skouen is a vital and important voice on the Norwegian cultural scene, and has been so for more than 30 years. A most welcome release, Call-Notes is the first portrait of her distinct musical works, brought forth by some of the most profiled performers in our day.
Ballet music from VOLVEN – “The Sibyl”
Synne Skouen and Kjersti Alveberg’s ballet VOLVEN (1989) is a big success from the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, featured several times on the repertoire since the first performance. The ballet is based on the epic Norse poem Voluspå, written in the form of prophesies foretold by the mythical sibyl Volven. The excerpts on this recording are from Volven’s judgement day prophesies. First out we encounter Volven and the Norns (Norse goddesses who ruled the destiny of gods and men) in their secret grotto beneath the world tree Yggdrasil in the scene “Skjebnespinn” (Web of fate) where they weave together the threads of life and death.
Solo and chamber music
Skouen draws on many different cultural sources in her works: The two solo pieces for violin both borrow their title from Marguerite Duras’ novel Les Yeux Bleus Cheveux Noirs – “Blue eyes, black hair”. In ‘O Vilhelm, Vilhelm’ the string quartet is joined by a singer, with a text and tune from the Romani cultural tradition. In ‘Vent!’ (Wait!) Skuen plays with our conception of contemporary music as ‘difficult’, and replies with a crooked smile that new music can virtually compose itself, at least if you help it a long just a little. Just take a telephone catalogue and …
A lifetime in and for music
Synne Skouen studied at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna, experimental composition at the Academy’s electronic studio, composition with Finn Mortensen at the Norwegian Academy of Music. She was co-founder and first editor of the music periodical Ballade (www.ballade.no), music critic in Arbeiderbladet and head of the cultural department at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation for many years. In recent years she again works full time as a composer and is a contracted columnist in Aftenposten with articles on cultural affairs.