Artist profiles: Bjørn Ole Rasch

Bjørn Ole Rasch

Bjørn Ole Rasch was born on July 28, 1959 in Elverum, Norway. He started playing classical piano at the age of 7. His mother was a proficient piano player and gave him his first lessons. After 8 years of classical music studies, Bjørn purchased his first synthesizer. From then, his interest was headed towards composing, arranging and keyboard programming.

At 19, Bjørn was given the opportunity to score the music to a theater play called “Manndattera og Kjerringdattera”(a fairytale from Norway). This led to 4-5 years focusing on composing for theater. He wrote the score to three ballets and three theater plays during this period, among them the critically praised “The Hobbitt.

Bjørn Ole Rasch became a member of two important groups in the Norwegian secne. First there was Boys Voice, which was a progressive rock group using spacey elements. They made one album in 1984. The second group was EtCetera, a jazz/folk group from Molde, Norway. They made one album in 1985 that was much-admired. The same period was full of session work.

Recognizing that he wanted to be a full-time musician, Bjørn became a student at The Music Conservatory in Kristiansand, Norway. In 1988 he became a soloist with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, performing Kjell Markussen´s “Morning Glory,” a symphonic poem written for synthesizer and electric guitar.

After spending 5 years at the Conservatory, his life outside school had really become time-consuming due to session work, touring and composing. He recorded and toured with Norwegian artists Jahn Teigen, Sigvart Dagsland, Jørn Hoel, Finn Kalvik, Rolf Løvland, Pål Thowsen, Tor Endresen and others. He also participated in an Australian tour with American singer Randy Crawford and a recording with The Chieftains from Ireland.

Next, after completing his formal education at the conservatory, Bjørn formed his own group along with two folk musicians from Lappland in the north of Norway: “Orbina”. They made a self-titled CD in 1992. This was his first time working with real folk music and-instruments in the world music scene. That same year he started working with Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø.

The Sissel Kyrkjebø group included several members of the Norwegian group Lava. They became official Olympic musicians under the LOOC-banner in 1993, leading to frequent touring worldwide promoting the Winter Olympics at Lillehammer, Norway. They recorded the CD “Innerst i Sjelen” with Sissel that sold 600.000 copies worldwide. When Sissel and the group went to China in 1994 Bjørn Ole met the Norwegian folk group Bukkene Bruse. Shortly after, he started working with them both as a musician and arranger.

Bukkene Bruse recorded the Åre album in 1995 that attracted a lot of attention in the world music scene. Bjørn’s interest in world music led to a collaboration with celebrated Norwegian hardanger fiddle player Annbjørg Lien. He produced, arranged and co-composed her album Prisme in 1996. The album was released in USA, Taiwan and most of Europe. In the middle of all this, Bjørn Ole took his Master degree in music at the Faculty of Rhythmic Music in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In 1995, Bjørn Ole started to work with a project featuring musicians from Norway and Ireland called Secret Garden. Their first single “Nocturne” won The Eurovision Song Contest 1996 in Ireland and the same year they released the CD “Songs from a secret garden“. Since then, Bjørn Ole has been working on all their albums both as arranger and musician. The group has worldwide sales over 2.5 million.

In 1998, Bjørn Ole became a member of Bukkene Bruse. The same year the band released the CD “Steinstolen”. In 1998, he started working with prominent Norwegian folk musicians Kirsten Bråthen Berg, Hallvard Bjørgum, Hans Fredrik Jacobsen and Sondre Bratland.

In 1999 Bjørn Ole became an official ambassador for the relief organization “Save the Children” together with Bukkene Bruse. In 1999 the Annbjørg Lien album “Baba Yaga” was released in Europe and the USA. The album was produced, arranged and co-written by Bjørn Ole. That same year Bukkene Bruse was awarded the influential Prøysenprisen in Norway. Also in 1999, Bjørn Ole and Annbjørg Lien wrote the music for the theater play “Stalu Bursa”.

He has been working as an associate professor at The Faculty of Fine Arts in Kristiansand since 1994. In 2002, Bjørn Ole released three new albums as a producer, arranger and musician. First, the album “Den Fagraste Rosa” with Bukkene Bruse. Next, the Annbjørg Lien album “Aliens Alive” and finally “Orbina II”, the follow-up album with his group Orbina based in Kautokeino, Norway.

Discography:

Etcetera, with Etcetera (HotClub Records, 1985)
Boys Voice, with Boys Voice (Spider Records, 1985)
Orbina, with Orbina (Idut Records, 1993)
Åre, with Bukkene Bruse (Grappa Records, 1995)
Steinstolen/ The Stone Chair, with Bukkene Bruse (Grappa Records, 1998)
Den Fagraste Rosa, with Bukkene Bruse (Grappa Records, 2001)
The Hobbit Suiteh (Abbibo Records, 2002)
Orbina II, with Orbina (Dat Records, 2002)
40, with Annbjørg Lien (Galleri Biz, 2002)
Spel, with Bukkene Bruse (Grappa Records. 2004)
Emma, with Annbjørg Lien (Agder Teater Records, 2005)
Roquebrune, with Annbjørg Lien (Galleri Biz, 2008)
Come Home, with Annbjørg Lien (Grappa Records, 2009)

Web site: www.bjornolerasch.com

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. He was also the executive producer of the first Latino feature film made in North Carolina titled “Los sueños de Angélica.”.

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