Archives For Grieg

Here I Go Again.

September 25, 2016 — 74 Comments

I have just had an absolutely fabulous first week at The Royal College of Music, I met some wonderfully enthusiastic students, I attended several well-structured and informative introductory lectures and sat enthralled during two masterclasses. 🙂 If this is a sample of what is yet to come then I am in for an exciting time over the next two years, and I can’t wait to share my experiences with you all.


First Day Ready To Go To The Royal College of Music

On Monday I got up early and double checked that I had everything that I needed to register at the College, then off I went to catch the tube and make my way over to South Kensington. The tube was really busy and was a new experience for me, one that I’m sure I will get used to very quickly.

I walked along Exhibition Road between the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum. You get a real sense of the history of the area with these grand, imposing buildings on both sides. I arrived at the Royal College of Music and after spending a few minutes just enjoying the moment I walked up the stairs and I was inside.

I had such an exciting first day, finding my way around, taking in the surroundings and meeting some of the other new students, it was so much fun. 🙂

As the week progressed, we sat language assessments in Italian, French and German, and several of the faculty members and their amazing administrative staff introduced themselves to us during our induction lectures.

On Wednesday the College hosted Dame Gwyneth Jones in the Britten Theatre who gave a vocal Masterclass and provided us with some insightful observations and useful suggestions as we started the new term.

Then on Friday I attended another Masterclass, this time, it was from an instrumentalist’s perspective, a Violin Masterclass given by Maxim Vengerov in the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall. His playing was so vibrant and full of musical storytelling, quite an experience and one that I left feeling enthused, with my mind buzzing with fabulous ideas to try out in my practice sessions. I have now received my new timetable for the coming week, and I can’t wait to get started.


Pascal Barnier Kindly Created This Beautiful Image For My Album Cover




To bring to end such a memorable week for me, I am excited to share with you the release of my new album, which is a recording of Edvard Grieg’s “Haugtussa” accompanied skilfully on piano by George Todica. I have loved learning these beautiful songs and wanted to record them and share them with you. The support and encouragement that I received from you all following my first album, Canzone D’Amore, made me even more determined to press on with my dreams. The money that I raised helped me to take up my place here at the Royal College of Music and the proceeds from this my second album will allow me to continue my studies and take a few more steps towards my goal. At the moment it is only available to download on iTunes and CD Baby ( if you want FLAC files ) and as soon as it is available as a CD, I will let you know.

iTunes USA
iTunes UK
CD Baby


I have some other news to share with you, following my summer trip to Berlin, Nestor Bayona, a conductor and pianist that I performed with there, invited me to fly over to Catalonia to perform alongside him in two concerts that he has organised. We will be performing songs from the “Haugtussa” song cycle, and it will be my first concert in Spain, Olé !!



This weekend I’ve had the chance to sit down with a cup of tea and reflect on my first performance of Grieg’s ‘Haugtussa’ as a complete song cycle. My Dad was able to come to watch when I performed in Edinburgh and I was so grateful to him as he stood at the back of the room and held his video camera over his head for the entirety of the evening so that I could listen back. Hopefully, next time he’ll bring a stand so he can relax and enjoy it. (Perhaps Santa will leave him one under the Christmas tree 🙂  )

Normally I struggle to watch myself as often I can be very critical. However, I read a book recently whilst I was preparing for my auditions and it recommended to list what you did well first and then rather than say “I did that terribly”, immediately start thinking how you can improve it.

For example in this video one of the things I would like to improve is my ability to keep my vibrato spinning at the ends of phrases to create a better line.

But for this blog post I am sharing this video with you as a work in progress as I would love to continue with my research into these pieces and work hard to improve my performance of them.

The song I have chosen is “Veslemoy”, it appears second in the cycle of the eight songs. Veslemoy is the real name of the young girl, and Haugtussa is her nickname meaning ‘mountain maid’. The text in this song describes her physical appearance as being thin and slender with brown pure features. It also mentions how she appears to be touched by magic allowing her to see into other realms. The second verse goes on to explain that despite her appearing calm she is still a young beautiful girl trembling and frail.

This description in some way prepares us for what is to come, as the story develops over the remaining six songs Haugtussa meets a boy and she feels her emotions blossom into a first love but sadly she is left waiting for him in the cold. He never returns.


Me with George Todica in Troldhaugen where we performed in Grieg’s house during our stay in Bergen, Norway.

I’m very excited to work on this cycle as it is rarely performed in the UK in its original Norwegian and yet the music and poetry are so touching and beautiful. I hope to record the whole cycle next year and would love to share them with you.  George and I have been working with these songs for over six months now and they’re still a work in progress, I hope that you enjoy them on first listening and that they can grow on you to become favourites as they have done with me. This gives me an opportunity to really listen and appreciate George’s sensitive interpretation and emotional connection to these beautiful songs.

Translation :

She is thin, dark and slender
with brown, pure features
and her eyes are deep and grey
and she has a soft dreamy manner.
It is as if it, half and half,
lay a spell over the whole of her.
In movement, speech and everything she has a muted calm.
She has a muted calm.
Beneath her lovely forehead,
Her eyes shine as if behind a mist,
It is as if they staring, saw far into another world.
Only her breast goes tight and heavy
And her pale mouth quivers.
She is trembling, frail and weak
At the same time she is beautiful and young.
She is beautiful and young.

Here are some links to the posts that I wrote about my time in Bergen 🙂

Edvard Grieg – Composer
Soprano Packing!
Just Arrived In Bergen
Day 2 – Welcome To The Grieg Academy
Day 3 In Bergen – So Inspiring
Enthralling Lectures, Inspirational Performances and Great Company
Bergen – The Final Concert

After a few busy days I’m very excited to tell the tale of my last day in Bergen. Sunday 31st May began with a masterclass in the morning, we all performed the two songs that we were going to be singing later that evening in the concert. It was fantastic to receive  advice from the teachers and scholars which helped us all to bring the songs to life. I was delighted to receive the compliment of good Norwegian pronunciation from specialist Wencke Ophaug during the masterclass. Watching the other workshop participants was lovely as I got to see the improvements made by the others over the past few days. It was delightful to work with such positive and hard-working people.


Click On The Picture To See The Full Panorama



We then had a break to re-energise ourselves and gather our things for the evening. I took my gold sparkly dress and George brought his DJ. We met the rest of the group at 4:15 pm outside the Grieg Hall and together we caught a coach to Troldhaugen. We arrived with the sun shining and at 5 o’clock a final rehearsal took place. But this rehearsal didn’t take place in a concert hall it took place in Grieg’s house. Now this was an extra special experience, George played Grieg’s piano and I stood where Nina would’ve sung. It felt like the music was coming home and we revelled in all the happy memories held within the walls of this beautiful house. It’s something I can’t quite explain in words, but I feel so privileged to have gained this opportunity and to take away such a marvellous memory. I also managed to press a note for myself. (A tuning ‘A’ to be precise hehe).


Sadly we could not take any pictures inside to share with you but if this means that many more generations can see and feel what I had experienced, then I don’t mind and instead I urge you to visit this fabulous home for yourselves.


After our seven minutes of rehearsal time George and I along with the other participants went downstairs to the maid’s quarters to get ready for the performance. I used some of this time to go and explore, I visited Grieg’s composition hut and it was here and at his piano, which I touched, that the music of ‘Haugtussa’ came to life. We also visited his and Nina’s graves which were carved into the mountains. It was quite spectacular and a beautiful resting place for them both, it felt quite an honour to be part of the history of this inspiring area of Bergen.


We then got changed into our performance clothes so we could take some pictures outside of the house to make the most of the sunny day. However, it was when we returned downstairs that something occurred. I poured myself a cup of berry tea, but moments later, just after being freshly brewed,  in the crowded room as I turned the entire contents of the cup spilled down the front of my dress. At first I couldn’t feel it and I just panicked about the mess but then all of a sudden the hot liquid reached my leg and stuck to my tight dress soaking my thigh. People rushed to help me get to a rest room and take the dress off and finally after a painful struggle I was released from it to reveal a burnt thigh!  But in the words of Freddie Mercury, (I’m a huge fan along with my Mum and Dad) “the show must go on!”,  so after pouring a cold bottle of water all over my leg and rubbing some hand lotion on I put my dress back on, which was more like a wetsuit 🙂 walked back upstairs and sung my heart out. Nothing was going to ruin this experience for me. Then promptly after finishing I retired to some comfy clothes to allow my skin some time to heal.


After the performance we all mingled and took some photos and expressed our joy of such a fabulous experience. I must say that I have now left the workshop as a Grieg enthusiast and I hope to keep singing and sharing his music for a long time.

I must admit that figuring out how to dictate my notes into my iPad has been really helpful and made sharing my adventure so much easier, I can really recommend it.


Today was a very exciting day indeed. From 9 o’clock till 1 o’clock we attended lectures held by guest speakers. The first lecture at 9 o’clock was taken by Arne Torp, a Norwegian professor from the University of Oslo. He spoke about the Norwegian language revival as artistic inspiration for Edvard Grieg. To begin with he pointed out the connection between the Scandinavian countries Norway Sweden and Denmark. He explained that for some time Denmark and Norway had a union, in which Denmark was the mothering country. This was because the higher classes spoke Danish. People learnt how to write in this language but often they spoke Bokmål, Norwegian Danish. Then when Norway became independent in 1814, the people of Norway wanted to speak a language connected to their own nationality, hence they began to speak Nynorsk, (Landsmål). In 1944 it reached its popularity peak as the language was then taught on the school curriculum. Torp continued his lecture on the subject of music as an element for building national identity. He explained Grieg’s involvement in these projects and how he chose poems in the new language Nynorsk in order to promote this change and support Norway’s identity. An example of this is his setting of Arne Garbourg’s Haugtussa.


At 10 o’clock the lecture was led by Cheryl Christensen from the USA. The theme of the lecture was Grieg in the “world of unborn music” and his creative journey through the use of language in Haugtussa. This was a brilliant lecture because she incorporated live performances with musical examples from her research through the help of two American workshop participants. She spoke about the structural dissonances in Grieg’s Haugtussa. For example he only chose to set eight songs from the overall collection which spans over two volumes. In the story that Grieg chose to create the audience experience her transforming from a scared and fragile girl to a courageous young woman due to the experience of heartbreak.

Markéta Štefková a professor from Slovakia furthered this discussion through an in depth analysis of the musical motifs that occurred in Haugtussa. Sharon Lavery from the Juilliard School gave a lecture on the marriage of music and poetry in Grieg’s Haugtussa. She spoke about how as a singer we can choose how to modify and project the vowels and consonants in order to portray the meaning of the text. This was very interesting and tied in with the work that we were doing with the Norwegian specialists in the workshops hosted by the Grieg Academy.

Gregory Martin, gave a lecture on the midnight sun that occurs in Norway and how this affected Grieg’s desire to present a sense of timelessness in his music. Avrid Vollsnes a Norwegian professor ended the morning session by explaining about the old culture and society at the time when the poems were written. This was great to hear as it gave insight into how the character of Haugtussa was affected by her relationship to other townsmen and to nature around her.

In the afternoon George and I had a lesson with Audun Kayser, who is a very talented pianist. He worked on quite a few pieces with us and provoked us to question how we performed the music by offering a little guidance in juxtaposition whilst encouraging us to take risks and liberate ourselves within the music. It was a fabulous session and one that I will remember for a long time.



At 5 o’clock we caught the coach to Troldhaugen.  It was here that we got to visit Grieg’s villa. It was his first permanent home after starting his married life with Nina Grieg. It was brilliant to see where he forged his ideas and created this magnificent pieces such as Haugtussa. We then went to a concert performed by the professors who led our vocal workshops at the Academy. This was both outstanding and at the same time very inspirational. Both duos had a real sense of connection and kept you engaged for the whole time you were there. Even though I do not speak Norwegian, Danish nor German I was able to follow the stories that they told through their fabulous performances. I hope that one day I can perform to a similar high standard it was truly breath-taking.


To finish a wonderful day we had a delicious dinner at Spisestedet Troldhaugen and we chatted and told stories and anecdotes into the late evening. I’ll be very sad knowing that it will be my last workshop day here tomorrow. But I will make the most of time here by absorbing as much of the culture, knowledge and experiences as possible.


Day three began with a practice slot in room 209 from 9 o’clock to 10 o’clock. We performed four of the songs that we prepared for the trip yesterday in our lesson with Solveig, so today we decided to work on a new piece from the Haugtussa cycle, Møte.  I had previously worked on the translation and pronunciation with my dear friend Martina whilst in Glasgow, so George and I decided to explore the musical ideas conjured up by the piece after yesterday’s inspiring open lessons.


Then at 10 o’clock we then went to the opening of the conferences and lectures held by musicologists interested in Grieg’s works.  The Grieg Society started in 1996 and they held conferences by annually.  The Society now hold the conference sessions every four years with little projects and workshops in between. This conference was the first time that workshop and lectures had been combined.

This resulted in bringing musicologists and performing musicians together in close contact to discuss ideas and create a web of information which we can all draw from. This was the goal of the society and I believe they have succeeded.

The conference represents over 20 different countries. The theme for the conference was the vocal production of Grieg music, there are 180 different songs that Grieg wrote.  Einar Røttigen, a fabulous pianist and leader of the workshop, explained that his hopes for the conference were that we could all take away what we had learned from our experiences and share them with others.  His hope is that the conference will create a network of Grieg enthusiasts, who in turn will inspire people to learn,listen and perform these beautiful Norwegian songs.
Beryl Foster from the UK was the keynote speaker, and she led the very interesting lecture ‘Grieg The Dramatist.’   She went into great depth that about his music and his compositions for the voice. She explained that he was a master of subtle difference shifting the Bar line and the inclusion of the tritone to represent dramatic ideas. He also wanted to feature ideas brought from Norwegian folk music to give a flavour of this fabulous culture within his works.

Then at 11 o’clock Jorma Daniel Lünenbürger, from Germany, gave a lecture on Grieg songs using German words, in context to German lieder. This was a very interesting talk, as he explained that Grieg went to Leipzig Conservatoire to study. Grieg decided that he wanted to compose in the German language and in the German manner. The basis of the lecture was to compare how the different famous composers such as Grieg, Schubert, Wolf, Franz and Reinecke ( Grieg’s teacher) all set poetry to music. However it was the ending quote that I found the most interesting! this lead me to wonder whether I can show the different nationalities more when I sing in different languages and whether this can colour my text and interpretation.

At 12 o’clock George and I had a lesson with Turid Bakke Braut. We performed for her and worked in great depth on Møte. Together we explored the different options for phrasing the musical line in order to achieve a flowing thought. This was a very rewarding process as we delved into the musical depth of the peace. This resulted in a truly close connection to the poem and musical ideas.

After a well-deserved lunch break we had an open panel discussion about performing Grieg songs with singers Njål Sparbo, Solveig Kringlebotn and pianists Einar Røttingen and Signe Bakke. This was especially interesting as the speakers explained their views on performing Grieg’s songs. The pianists recommended that the text must always have a sense of direction to enable the pianist to move and express the emotion of a harmonic progression.  Solveig explained her views in depth and they were so absorbing. She explained that Grieg wanted to write music that was sympathetic to the original intention of the poet . Njål encouraged us to take what had been discussed and incorporate it into our own performances. Einar recommended never to play different composers from the same era in the same way. This is because they should all be seen as sensitive and individual human beings who have their own stories to tell.
At 4 o’clock George and I then signed up to perform in the open masterclass, which was to be held in front of the musicologists and musicians together. There were seven participants overall and we performed fourth. Originally we decided to sing Ved Gjætle Bekken, but after connecting so strongly with Møte during the day we decided to take the risk of performing it because we wanted to gain as much insight and advice as possible. We performed the song in full and then we received great advice and input from multiple teachers and musicologists. This was brilliant as it allowed me to think about all the different options and alternatives that are available to a performer and it also gave me the confidence to make my own decisions on how I think the piece should be performed.

After a quick bite to eat we met back up at 7 o’clock at Bergen public library it was here that we got the chance to see and touch Grieg’s original scores. This is a very exciting process is we could get a sense of the actual beginnings of the works, to experience the seed from which the music and ideas grew from.



The Haugtussa Manuscript had a beautiful painting on it’s the front cover, sadly the artist is unknown. I went on to looking through the scores and I found that Grieg wrote the music in pen but the bar lines in pencil. Although it may seem like a simplistic thing to discover but it really spoke to me especially after all that I had learned today in the lectures. I wondered as I read through Grieg’s scores was this use of pencil intentional? Was there some glorious purpose behind it or maybe had his pen just run out of ink. We may never know.


Then as the evening drew on we became enthralled as the library transformed into a bar as loads of people started to come in to meet and socialise. It was very different to our University library and created a fabulous atmosphere. Perhaps we don’t need to be quiet and libraries in the evening? It was lovely to spend some time with my fellow participants, share stories and discuss musical ideas.


Tomorrow the conference is to be hosted by the musicologists and will be dominated by the Haugtussa cycle. I’m very excited to hear their ideas and take on their advice and information which I hope will help my performance of the work.


Day two of my exciting adventure in Bergen. Today we had the pleasure of going to the Grieg Academy to begin our intensive course on Grieg song and Norwegian pronunciation.

In the morning we met with our friends: Kristiina Watt, Donal McHugh and Esther Knight who are also students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Together we left the hostel and arrived at the Grieg Academy at 9 o’clock in the morning. We went to the welcoming reception which was held in the Prøvesalen ( rehearsal hall ).

It was at the session that I met the other participants who had been invited to take part on the course and we all had to stand up and introduce ourselves. I’ll admit I always find this quite daunting, I never know what to say. When it was my turn I stood up fairly quickly announced that “I’m Charlotte Hoather”  and then promptly sat back down again. Thinking about this now, I maybe I should have said a funny fact about myself, or a joke, if any one has any advice please let me know! Haha


Following the welcome meeting we were allocated a practice time slot between 9:30 till 11:00. George and I were shown to a lovely room, 322.  The room was very inspirational as it was filled with music and pictures to set the atmosphere along with two grand pianos. I was quite nervous in the morning, all of a sudden it hit me, I was in Bergen, Norway about to sing some beautiful Norwegian songs in front of leading specialists and performing artists. This is quite a daunting task! Before now I had not participated in any masterclasses in my own country and the enormity of the challenge hit me smack in the face. But luckily I had George with me, he was ever so positive and told me to smile and that I’d be fine. It was just a kick up the bum I needed and pretty soon I was back to my normal self.


At 11 o’clock I went to an open lecture called ‘Troubleshooting Norwegian pronunciation in classical singing’ taken by Wencke Ophaug. I sat next to Tessa Romano and Mary Rose Norell, it was lovely to meet them they had travelled all the way from the USA and I had the pleasure to listen to them later this afternoon. The lecture discussed how Norwegian doesn’t have a standardised pronunciation and the problems that can occur due to this. It explained that this was because people can speak many dialects in the same city. As a singer I strive to be as accurate with the pronunciation as possible, so this was really interesting. I have studied IPA ( International Phonetic Alphabet ) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland so I was familiar with most of the symbols that the lecturer was using apart from the odd few. I learnt so much from this talk, for example I found out that there is no voiced ‘S’ in Norwegian,  unlike English or German.

We then took a short break for lunch and we ate at the Grieg Academy canteen. I had an interesting sandwich, I’m not quite sure what was on it but it was very tasty! The staff are ever so friendly and the students that were taking us around the building were brilliant, so helpful and made you feel really welcome.

At 1 o’clock I had an open teaching session with Solevig Kringlebotn in the Prøvesalen. It was an incredible session, I performed four songs from the Haugtussa cycle, Det Syng, Veslemøy, Killingdans and Ved Gjætle Bekken.  Solevig was full of life and she provided me with so much help and encouragement during the session.  Later on I made a note of everything she said in my diary, lots to think about and work on.

For the rest of the afternoon I watched two of the open lessons, it was hard to decide who to listen to. For today George and I listened to lessons that included work from the Haugtussa cycle. Each duo and teacher had something different to say, and the interpretations were fabulous to watch.
After that we nipped out for a quick bite to eat. We visited a fabulous café recommended by my lovely friend Martina called Godt Brød, here we had some delicious pastries and I got an English breakfast tea! It was a delightful place and they also did takeaway sandwiches to your choosing, I might be visiting this place again. 🙂


To finish a very musical day we went to a concert at 5 o’clock performed by USA pianist Daniel Baer. He performed a wonderful program of Prokofiev, Barber and Grieg. It was both dramatic and powerful, his dynamics were crisp and clear. thoroughly enjoyed it.

I then went back to the hostel for a quick chill, wrote this on my iPad and now I’m going to go and find somewhere to eat.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

Following a really early start in Glasgow we arrived in Bergen at about 11:15 am local time and the first thing we did was to look for the bus we needed to catch into the city centre.  As you can see I used my nice big suitcase :D.


At first we were very unsure of what we were doing but the man there on duty was so helpful and explained what we needed to do and where to go.  He told us to get off at the first stop which was the Bergen bus station instead of the bus stop at the Radisson Blu hotel as that was closer to the area where we were staying.

After getting off the bus we went to find the living accommodation that had been organised for us during our stay in Bergen. We are staying at a lovely guest house,  my bedroom has a lovely wallpaper with birds and flowers and trees and quite quirky ornaments hanging on the wall it’s got a fabulous view of all the colourful houses climbing the hills and yet feels secluded. I started to unpack and pretty soon it started to feel very homely, a nice little place to relax.


After getting our bearings we decided to go and have a little explore. We agreed that we both wanted to sample some of the more traditional local areas and headed off to find the fish markets.  However after such a long morning of travelling and having not eaten we had to give the fish market a rain check and kept our eyes peeled for a nice café to eat lunch.



We happened upon a few lovely coffee bars but continued exploring until we reached a beautiful park in the centre of Bergen, which had at its centre a beautiful lake Lille Lungegardsvann. It was here that we found a fabulous cafe in which we had lunch, we chose a ham and cheese toastie and a chicken and bacon pasta. Both were very yummy however we were still quite hungry so we treated ourselves to a Daim cake (like we get in Ikea at in Glasgow).


After that we went to the Kode Art Museum complex and visited Kode 4 which was full of Norwegian artist such as Nikolai Astrup, whose paintings had beautiful depth and intricacy which had similarities to themes from Haugtussa poems. The student price for two day ticket was 50 kroner which is about £5.00 or $7.50, this meant that we could go today for as long we wanted and return tomorrow time permitting. It was a brilliant experience and I do hope that we can get back tomorrow and perhaps will go to building three or two.

We then went to find where the Grieg Academy was located so that we were prepared for tomorrow morning ready to start at 9 am sharp. It was a little tricky to find at first but when we succeeded we found the most beautiful yellow building.

To finish our day we decided to try again to find the fish market which was called Bryggen. At The fishmarket we found a variety of stalls. It was here that we met I lovely salesman who offered to let us taste some of his fish. We tried Norwegian salmon from a locally sourced farm and also wild salmon which was very delicious.  We also tried whale which had a strange meaty texture and the sales assistant recommended that we ate it raw on salad instead of cooking it.



For dinner we then went to a lovely restaurant called Bryggeloftet & Stuene for a lovely one course meal. I had beef and George had salmon. It was very delicious and George tried an India pale ale brewed locally. To end the day we found a supermarket to get some supplies for the evening back at the hostel along with some breakfast things for the morning.

I’m going to have a quiet night in to recuperate from the 3 o’clock start this morning.

So excited for tomorrow!

Soprano Packing!

May 24, 2015 — 74 Comments

I was amazed when I spoke to George and he said that he was only taking hand-carry to the Grieg workshop.  I’d already booked a hold bag and was worried about fitting everything in my case that I want to take 😄.

I looked up some travel guides and one of the first tips is to check the weather forecast.

So sunny with lots of rain showers 7 degrees C to 9 degrees C. So an umbrella, rain mac, scarf.

I’m not sure there will be WiFi but I’ll take my IPad and charger (I must try to scan all of my scores for my exam repertoire onto my iPad) but I will still take my Haugtussa book, travel plug, mobile phone. But I’ll keep all this in my backpack.

Clothes (5 days)
I like to travel in leggings, t-shirt, pullover and wear trainers to travel in.

Then I thought I’d take two pairs of smart trousers, a couple of t-shirts, a couple of blouses one long sleeve, one short sleeve, a skirt, a cardigan, a jumper and maybe a day dress or two.

PJs it’s quite cold at night, underwear, socks, tights.

There’s a final performance so I’ll have to pack a long dress, one that doesn’t crease too much.  I think I’ll take evening shoes.The list is getter longer 🙂

Packing-May-2015I always put my clothes in my cases flat and with as few folds as possible but I have been told that they may be better rolled as that helps to stop creases.  Do any of you more seasoned travelers have any tips for me ?  I am only going for 5 days this trip but in the summer I have to pack for FIVE WEEKS !! in the same size case so no room for an iron 🙁


Grieg Academy


This year I have been working solidly on acquiring more languages and concentrating on sensitive interpretation of the new songs I’m adding to my repertoire.  As you know I’ve been digging deeper into the texts and musicality of each piece. At the beginning of the academic year George Todica and I sent in an audition application for a master-class in Bergen, Norway.





We were thrilled to be accepted to take part in the ‘International Workshop on the Songs of Edvard Grieg’ from May 29th to 31st.

The conference selected 25 applicants, eight in the form of duos (singers and pianists) plus individual singers and individual pianists.  The applicants are from many Countries: USA, Canada, UK, Romania, Russia, Ireland, Japan, China, Hungary, Italy and Sweden.



Edvard Grieg – ( 1843 to 1907 )


The workshop will consist of informal, open teaching sessions with teachers from the Grieg Academy Staff and also professional free-lance singers including: Njål Sparbo, Marianne Beate Kielland and Ann-Helen Moen.  An expert in phonetics Wenche Ophaug will be working on language pronunciation and there will be a final concert in Grieg’s Villa at Troldhaugen on the last evening 31st May.



Grieg’s Villa at Troldhaugen


I am very grateful for the support of my fellow vocal student Martina Starr-Lassen who grew up not far from Bergen, she has been wonderful in helping me with Norwegian pronunciation as I wanted to learn my chosen song cycle in the original language they were composed in.  This has been an enjoyable challenge.

We were very grateful to receive financial support from the Deablitz Fund awarded by the RCS Director of Music towards this opportunity to help to purchase our airfare and the conference organisers have funded the course and part of the accommodation which has made our participation possible.



Inside The Grieg Academy – Bergen


When we received our acceptance letter we chose to start learning the Haugtussa, Op. 67, or The Mountain Maid which is a song cycle for soprano and piano composed by Edvard Grieg in 1895 and published in 1898. It is the only song cycle in his entire repertoire. The text was written by the Norwegian writer Arne Garborg from his book of poetry Haugtussa.

It tells the story of , a young herding girl, and her first love affair with a boy, her first heartache. Both the lyrics, which brim over with imagery of gurgling brooks and tasty blueberries, and the music that mimics this imagery, intertwine the main character’s personal story and the mystic spring-like landscape that surrounds her, which may even motivate it.

The song cycle consists of the following eight songs:

1. Det Syng -“The Enticement” – Haugtussa is dreaming
2. Veslemøy – ‘Young Maiden’ – A description of the slender 18 yr old Haugtussa. She has second sight and sees what others fail to see. Viewed by others in her community as strange. She can see the spirits of the other worlds – trolls, hill folk, even the devil.
3. Blabaer-Li – “Blueberry Slope” – Haugtussa is watching over her flock and sees a field of blueberries.
4. Mote – “The Tryst” – Haugtussa looks out upon the hill and sees the boy of her dreams.
5. Elsk – “Love” – Haugtussa declares her love for the boy Jon. She finds it easy to cope with her gifts while she has her love, there is lots of pathetic fallacy, so love comes in summer, but when she hears of Jon’s desertion it is ‘an evening towards autumn’ trolls and spirits appear in the night, in mist and cold shadows.
6. Killingdans – “Kidlings’ Dance” – Haugtussa dances with her flock of goats.
7. Vond Dag – “Hurtful Day” – A rainy day; he promised he would come, but she sat there alone.
8. Ved Gjaetle-Bekken – “At the Brook” – Haugtussa sits by the brook speaking to it of her sadness.

Only three weeks away now, very exciting.