Friday, November 17, 2006

Norwegian Artists to Perform

Maja Ratkje & POING
Norwegian Artists to Perform at the
National Museum of Women in the Arts

“Ratkje’s voice is gloriously possessed by the tongues of more split personalities
than there are angels on the head of a pin,” -The Wire

WASHINGTON—The National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) welcomes two of Norway’s most prominent music talents, Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje and POING, on Sunday, Dec. 17. The performance from 2 to 4 p.m. is part of the Tenth Anniversary Norwegian Christmas celebration at Union Station.

The Chicago Reader heralds the female composer and performer Maja Ratkje as “one of the most astonishing singers on the planet, sounding at times like Diamanda Galas or Shelley Hirsch,” two powerful women of contemporary avant-garde music.

Ratkje has garnered attention in and out of Scandinavia, appearing in Europe, Japan, China, the United States and Canada. In 1999 she received the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris, an award for composers below 30 years of age, and she was awarded the Norwegian Edvard prize for work of the year twice, in 1999 and 2004.

Ratkje has often collaborated with her fellow Norwegians in POING, by providing compositions specifically tailored to their distinctive sound. The POING ensemble of Rolf-Erik Nystrøm, saxophone; Frode Haltli, accordion; and Håkon Thelin, double bass is a lead group on the Scandinavian contemporary music scene. The group plays improvisational and contemporary works specially written for the trio.

Their diverse music is infused with a range of elements from jazz and classical to tango, pop and heavy metal. “This unusual Norwegian trio is doing interesting work off the beaten track,” declares music magazine The Wire. “… [POING] display(s) considerable technical depth and breadth, as well as strong ensemble identity.”

For the first time here in America, Ratkje will perform live with POING, blending in with vocals for new versions of some of her pieces. Three of her original works that are part of the band’s repertoire will be performed on Sunday. “essential extensions” is a current take on Olivier Messiaen’s “Quatour pour la fin du temps.” Ratkje explores the sound of the accordion, saxophone and double bass with this explosive and physical piece. It was presented to POING as a surprise gift in 1999 and is probably the first contemporary work written for this combination of instruments.

The waltz, “passing images,” was originally written as a solo piece for POING. Written from memory after Haltli’s re-arrangement of a Norwegian folk tune, the group has created another arrangement for this event to incorporate all POING members plus Ratkje.

The Dec. 17 appearance of Ratkje and POING at NMWA featuring custom compositions is cosponsored by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Admission is free.
NMWA is located at 1250 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., in a landmark building near the White House. It is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, noon-5 p.m.

For information, call 202-783-5000 or visit the museum’s Web site at


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