Nils Henrik Asheim — composer, organist
Nils Henrik Asheim (b. 1960, Oslo) combines the careers of organist, pianist, and composer along with his activities as a curator, program creator, and initiator of artistic collaborations. Seated within the classical music tradition, he eventually branched out into the free improvisational scene. He studied at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo and the Sweelinck Academy in Amsterdam.
Nils Henrik Asheim has written a number of chamber works, including Water Mirror, Navigo, Chase, Nicht, and Broken Line, in addition to the orchestral works Mirrors, Turba, Wind Songs, and Degrees of White (LWC1206). He has also composed larger sacred works and has written dramatic music, placespecific works, and compositions where improvisation is a key element. Asheim's music has a clear focus on sound and the sound’s physical and tactile side. His music is usually constructed of several parallel proportions of time, and Asheim works with layers of closeness and distance. Variations of constantly recurring material create an open and self-generating form.
Asheim has developed his own personal improvisational style on the organ, and he cultivates the profile of a performer who defies genre conventions. He has twice received the Norwegian Grammy Award (Spellemannprisen) for his organ album 19.03.04, Oslo Cathedral and for Mazurka — Remaking Chopin (LWC1016).
Nils Henrik Asheim has served as organist of the Stavanger Concert Hall since 2012. He has attracted a wide audience for organ music by developing new concert forms where the organ is combined with other instruments and art forms. In 2018 Asheim released a critically acclaimed album with his own transcriptions of music by Edvard Grieg and Geirr Tveitt, performed on the organ in Stavanger Concert Hall (LWC1151). As an improvisational organist, he has collaborated with artists such as the singer Anne-Lise Berntsen, noise musician Lasse Marhaug, percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love, and many others, most recently with the vocal artist Ruth Wilhelmine Meyer on the release Vox Humana (2018), recorded on the Hildebrandt organ from 1719 in Pasłęk, Poland.
Asheim made his debut as a composer at the young age of fifteen at the Scandinavian Youth Music Festival in Helsinki. In 1978 he won Second Prize in the European Broadcasting Union’s Rostrum competition. He has received commissions from the most important Norwegian cultural institutions, including composing the official fanfare for the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994, and music for the wedding of the Crown Prince and Princess in 2001. In addition to the Nordic Council Music Prize, Asheim has received the Lindeman Prize, the Arne Nordheim Composer Prize, and the Edvard Prize, among others. His children’s opera, The Tempest, commissioned by The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, won the European RESEO Opera for Young Audiences Award in 2014. In 2018 he received the Nordic Council Music Prize for Muohta – Language of Snow.