Lyon & Healy Publications is pleased to announce it has just added Bragi’s Harp, a concerto for harp and orchestra by Uno Alexander Vesje, winner of the 6th USA International Harp Competition Composition Contest (2018) and third prize in the International Edvard Grieg Composition Contest (2014). This is the first original concerto to be added to Lyon & Healy Publications’ catalog in several decades, and we asked Uno to explain how his concerto came to be…
This concerto is written out of pure love for the harp and the Norwegian folk music. I wanted to show a diversity of emotions and ways to use the harp. From the most intimate and soft in melodic solo parts, through different chamber music combinations with instrument groups in the orchestra, dramatic and virtuoso parts and the majestic sides of the wonderful instrument, accompanied by the entire orchestra.
One of my favorite parts to perform is the energic middle section (from letter J in the score). When I perform this section I picture myself jumping around with small energetic baby goats in the hillside of the dramatic mountains on the Norwegian west coast.
This concerto is written in the modern time, but the themes and orchestration is very traditional and romantic. As a performing harpist I was really missing a romantic concert piece with a Nordic sound in my repertoire, like Edvard Grieg’s music. A piece more accessible for the listener and the performing harpist.
This is really not the hardest concerto to learn, but still on a musical and technical level that would make a virtuosic expression suitable for both professionals and younger harpists. It is really a concerto that suits a large group of performers and listeners. As a very big surprise for me (because this piece is written for the the general public and not the contemporary music scene) is that this concerto has really been recognized and appreciated by the contemporary music scene and music critics in Norway, this was really way beyond my wildest imagination.
After the world premiere in Trondheim, Norway the concerto was chosen in an anonymous process to be performed in Edvard Grieg’s hometown, Bergen, at the Gala Concert in the Young Nordic Music (UNM) Festival in 2018 in the hall named after Grieg himself.
The first time I understood that I had to write this concerto, was when I was bicycling a construction/access road called “Rallarvegen” (English: The Navvy Road), which is now a recreational trail. This road curves through the most stunning landscape on the planet. This nature can only be described through music and art, or nature itself. The smells, sounds and colours are just overwhelming, not possible to be captured on a video or in a photograph. For the first time I truly understood the music of Edvard Grieg. The emotional impact of this scenery just make you go crazy romantic. Most of the journey I was just singing out romantic folk inspired themes to my audience of sleepy sheeps and playful goats while biking for hours and hours.
You can find the Harp Part, Score & Parts, Piano Reduction available digitally and hardcopy on harp.com.
View a live recording from the world premiere on Bragi’s Harp by Uno with the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra