The Norwegian Wind Ensemble is a unique institution in Norway’s cultural life. The orchestra’s eventful history stretches back to 1734 and the ‘First Brigade Band’ or ‘Division Band’ of Fredriksten Fortress in Halden. It is the oldest orchestra in Norway as well as the oldest cultural institution of any kind with an unbroken history. The ensemble is based in a purpose-built facility in the border town of Halden, south of Oslo, and produces and performs around 120 concerts every year – nationally and internationally.
While the musical profile of this unique ensemble features a variety of genres, it has two particular areas of commitment; historic music, in collaboration with curator Steven Devine, with an emphasis on developing and nurturing an understanding of style and performance practice. The ensemble is concentrating on the period from the Renaissance to Viennese School. The combination of authentic and modern instruments gives the ensemble a unique sound that gives new life to familiar works from this era. Their next area of commitment; Real Time Music, has in recent years paved the way for ‘new’ classical music. In collaboration with curator Professor Geir Lysne, the ensemble has worked purposefully to develop collective knowledge and individual skills in improvisation – with classical references as framework. The orchestra has become a reference ensemble in Europe and are referred to as trailblazers by inspiring ground-breaking musical development.
Some of the recent years highlights include invitation and re-invitation to one of the largest Baroque festivals in Bolivia – Misiones de Chiquitos. The recording of the album The Mission which was rewarded with very favourable reviews. Furthermore, performances of Messiah with the BBC Singers in Norway and England, and the following recording of this disc. During recent years, in the realm of Real Time Music, the ensemble has done a series of successful concerts in cooperation with the award-winning German pianist Michael Wollny – in both Norway and Germany.