Talking with Lene Grenager – 11/9/2013

This week on Friday, we’ll play the premiere of Lene Grenager’s new Orchestral work, VEV, with Oslo Philharmonic at the Konserthus in Oslo.


Here is a little chat I had with Lene:


What does the title “VEV” mean?

VEV means several things in norwegian: – it can be the contraption you use when you weave for instance a carpet or a cloth of some kind – it can mean web (spiders are in some places in Norway called vevkjerring which is web woman) – it can be used more symbolically for something intertwined or weaved together


Were there any inspirations for your piece?

The inspiration is quite concrete. In viking ages the belief was that a good weaver could influence the course of fate. She could for instance “trap” enemies in the cloth during a battle and hence influence the outcome. In many of the old sagas there are sourcer women who by the help of textile tools could change the course of the future or at least predict it (in Wagners Ring you have the Norns and Erda as examples of this). At the same time this is not programme music. I just find something intriguing in the thought that art could really influence and change the world in a direct way.


What’s the particular attraction or challenge in writing for an orchestra for a composer in 2013?

I think the particular challenge is to find a way to connect the really conservative institution of an orchestra, a magnificent and fine tuned instrument, with new ideas. In almost any other contextyou can as a composer interact directly with the individual musician and do adjustments (even in sinfonietta that is possible). So the challenge is really to be precise and clear with your ideas and the way you communicate them.


How did you get to composing in the first place?

I have composed since I was quite young. But it was not until I had worked a lot with contemporary techniques as a cello student that I found a way to express the music I wanted. I then got into the composition class at the Academy. I still play a lot of concerts and this combination of composing and performing I find very fruitful.


How do you write? Do you sketch or write directly into full score?

I sketch and I write directly into full score. I often do a “shorthand” version of the full score and then work my way into the details. In this particular process the orchestra kindly arranged a workshop quite early on where I could try out some sketches. It was very useful, I think.


What other pieces are you working on, at the moment?

I am at the moment working on a concerto for cello and Trondheim sinfonietta and preparing for a new orchestral piece for Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra.



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