“When the Norwegian festival Folkemusikkveka på Ål in 2019 commissioned new music for Haugtussa, I immediately knew that I wanted to sing the story, as Garborg himself uses various words for ‘song’ to describe his work,” says Øyonn Groven Myhren. “At first, I thought of singing the story without any instrumental accompaniment, but as the work progressed, I wanted to incorporate willow flute, strumming, fiddle playing, and percussion. In Garborg’s text, there are references to flute, harp melody, langeleik (Norwegian zither), quieter strings, fiddle tones, traditional dances, silver bell sounds, bells, clinking, pots, and kettles that make a melody that nobody knew, and more. I was fortunate enough to get a yes from the musicians Rasmus Kjorstad and Tomas Nilsson, and then I had all of this to work with.“
In Haugtussa, we follow the teenage girl Veslemøy, who is clairvoyant and can see both ‘Huldra’, trolls, witches, and the dead. We meet her at home on the farm and as a shepherdess in the mountains where she falls in love with Jon. When Jon betrays her, sorrow and destructive forces take over. On the opposite side stands Veslemøy’s dead sister as a wise and warm guide. We follow Veslemøy’s struggle in the battle between light and darkness, and in the end, the “wise prophetess” reveals.
The changing of the seasons plays an important role in the story, and this album is divided into three seasonal parts: Vol. 1: Winter, Vol. 2: Spring and Summer, and Vol. 3: Autumn and Winter. Vol. 1 is released digitally at the same time as the physical edition, while digital releases of Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 come later, at two different times.
Øyonn Groven Myhren is one of Norway’s foremost folk musicians and has won several “first prizes” at the Norwegian folk music competition Landskappleiken. She has been central to a number of projects, including the vocal group Dvergmål, where she has released two albums: Visor og kvæde frå Blåberglandet (1996) and Song i himmelsalar (2004). The album Nordjordet (2018) is the result of a long-standing collaboration with Bugge Wesseltoft. Other notable works include I Jolo (1998) with Eilert Hægeland and Alf Tveit, Runarslaget (2021) with the SISU percussion ensemble, and Tìle (2022) with Sidiki Camara and Olav Torget. She has worked with medieval songs through the ensemble Aurora Borealis, with the albums Harpa (1997) and Wizlavs viser (2018), and in the duo Sogesong (with Anne Hytta) with Så vide fara dei lindaord (2017). She has shed light on Norwegian 17th-century music through the ensemble Barokk Boreal with the albums Ti bud i sanger (2020) and Sanger om død og glede (2022). In 2001, Odd Nordstoga and Groven Myhren wrote the commissioned work Nivelkinn, which was released on CD and received the Norwegian Grammy Award (Spellemannprisen) in the category Folk Music/Gammaldans in 2002. As a solo artist, she has released the albums Akkedoria frå Kristiania (2003) and Grisilla i Gullveven (2008), and she has received awards such as Norsk folkemusikkfonds folkemusikkpris (1997), Sagaprisen (1997), and Gammeleng-prisen (2022).