The Alehouse Sessions – curated and devised by Bjarte Eike – is an ever changing and evolving insight into the music of the English 17th Century tavern. It gives audiences a window into this tumultuous period through Purcell overtures, English sea shanties, and Scandinavian folk songs thrown in for good measure. These sessions have already been hailed as ‘irresistible’ [The Times], ‘superb’ [The Scotsman] and ‘fabulously unrestrained’ [The Guardian], and they have diverted away from the traditional concert model by ‘creating the effect of a late night jamming session’ [BBC Music Magazine].
This diversion from the traditional concert model is what is at the heart of the Sessions. Through the medium of these well-loved tunes, a story of the period is interwoven into the music making; creating a unique environment between audience and performer. Bjarte Eike goes into detail about what makes this special:
“The signature of this project is the interaction on stage between the players and the audience. If it has to be put in a historical context, the project draws its inspiration from the Shakespearian theatre where there was a direct communication between stage and hall- going in-between the story that was being told and occurring events happening in the hall. This is in stark contrast to the 19th century drama with dark halls looking at the “gods” on stage. It is the latter which the classical mainstream industry has adapted fully.”
Using their own arrangement of the tunes, these ‘Alehouse Boys’ combine this unique format with humour, an unrivalled virtuosity and flare for improvisation.
The group have also embarked on further projects and collaborations in the core classical genre with their performances of the reconstruction of Bach’s St Mark Passion, Handel and Mozart operas with the Norwegian National Opera and the Den Ny Opera in Denmark respectively, and a fully staged Handel Messiah with Netia Jones and the Bergen National Opera in Norway.
‘The Alehouse Sessions’ is one of the first major discs for the group and follows hot on the heels of ‘The Image of Melancholy’, which explores the use of melancholy in music throughout the centuries. In the same month it was released, it won ‘International Recording of the Year’ at the Danish P2 Prisen Award. ‘The Alehouse Sessions’ will be slightly more cheerful.
Bjarte Eike and Barokksolistene are based in Norway. They are very grateful to receive support from the government and community of Norway as proud ambassadors of Norwegian culture.