One of Norway’s most central cultural events, the Bergen International Festival, is in full swing these days. Among a plethora of events is also a premiere of a new work by respected Norwegian composer Lasse Thoresen. Wed 28th of May sees the premiere of his new work ‘Solbøn’ followed by a performance of his central work ‘Difoni I’. The works are to be performed by one of Scandinavia’s finest vocal ensembles, the Nordic voices - a six-voice a cappella ensemble with a vast repertoire that ranges from medieval to modernist music.
Lasse Thoresen (b. 1949) is professor of composition at the Norwegian State Academy of Music. He received a graduate degree in composition in 1972 from the Oslo Music Conservatory, where he studied under Finn Mortensen. After that he studied electrophony and composition under Werner Kaegi at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Lasse Thoresen has been teaching electrophony, sonology and composition at the Norwegian State Academy of Music since 1975. He and his colleague Olav Anton Thommessen have been instrumental in introducing research on sonology in Norway, and he received an NAVF grant in connection with this in 1978-81.
Lasse Thoresen's earliest compositions reveal the influence of his studies in electrophony. One of his major works from this period, the multimedia composition Skapelser, was written for the Høvikodden Art Centre. Thoresen has been commissioned to write a number of works, several of which have achieved wide recognition, such as The Garden, written for the inauguration of Lille Sal, the chamber-music auditorium of the Oslo Concert Hall, Rettferdighetens Sol (The Sun of Justice), commissioned by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Violin Concerto, commissioned by the Oslo Philharmonic and composed for violinist Stig Nilsson, and Bird of the Heart, written for the Oslo Trio. In 1981 he received the Norwegian Society of Composers' Work of the Year award for Stages of the Inner Dialogue for piano. This was followed by the Critics' Award in 1987 for Qudrat, a work for synthesizer and percussion. He received the Lindeman award for his work as a composer the same year.
Influenced by Norwegian folk music, French spectral music and Harry Partch's tonal system Just Intonation, Lasse Thoresen has been working on microtonality since 1985. Les trois régénérations (1986) - commissioned by Radio France/France Musique - was the first of his works to make use of models derived from folk music. Thus he was the first Norwegian composer to integrate the non-tempered intervals of folk music into art music. The work Thus (1990) was composed for an ensemble that employs Harry Partch's tonal system, while Illuminations (1986) and AbUno (1992) reveal the influence of spectral music. Lasse Thoresen received the Work of the Year award for the latter in 1993.
Lasse Thoresen's poetic titles bear witness to his commitment to the Báha'í Faith. Inspired by the wholy scriptures of the religion he has composed works like Carmel Eulogies (1994) for the 75th anniversary of Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and the large choral work From the Sweet-Scented Streams of Eternity (1995). In 1997 he wrote the symphonic poem Emergence - Luohti boaðe, inspired by Sámi traditional sining "joik", for the Oslo Philharmonic's tour to Athens and Vienna. In 1998 he wrote, on commission from the Warsaw Autumn, the cantata Fire and Light for two folk singers, instrumental ensemble and choir.
Lasse Thoresen, Composer, Professor