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About Bjarte Eike
Norwegian violinist Bjarte Eike has been in the forefront of the effort to present classical music in nontraditional venues and styles, and thus to attract new audiences to the music. His efforts have developed on several fronts. As leader of Barokksolistene, he has, in the words of the Financial Times, created an ensemble that "brings the raw rhythms of Scandinavian folk music to...the high baroque." More novel still have been Eike's Alehouse Boys, which do not simply present classical music in alehouses, but seek to re-create a specific historical moment: Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth, in the middle 17th century, when church music was severely curtailed and professional musicians, of necessity, poured into pubs to perform. Eike uses this moment as a potential model for the development of new relationships between classical performers and audiences.
Eike was born in Gjøvik, Norway, on April 24, 1972. He attended the Grieg Academy in Bergen, becoming the first student to graduate from the school with a concentration in Baroque violin. Based for part of his career in Copenhagen, Denmark, he was the leader of and frequent soloist with Concerto Copenhagen. He has also performed with a jazz ensemble, Magnetic North, and played violin in traditional stage performances, notably a new staged version of Handel's Messiah at the Bergen National Opera and a production of Handel's Alcina at the Norwegian National Opera. Barokksolistene were formed for a debut at the Larvik Baroque Festival and quickly began to develop, recording several mixtures of Baroque and folk material for the innovative Norwegian audiophile label 2L. The Alehouse Boys were an offshoot of Barokksolistene. They are a group of nine players whose work involves comic stagecraft and improvisation as well as traditional musical performance. They involve the audience in what they do; "before anyone is more than a pint down," noted The Guardian, "Eike manages to get the crowd chanting a call-and-response number -- this is not very classical, certainly not very British. But it is exhilarating." The Alehouse Boys made their recorded debut with The Alehouse Sessions in 2017. ~ James Manheim