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Svalbard - November 2017

Henning is the Artistic Director of the Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and within this capacity, he is also involved with the planning of the Arctic Chamber Music Festival in Svalbard that will run from February 15th - 18th 2018. He will continue with this work throughout the years that he remains in his position.

This blog post is from his recent trip to Svalbard.


This photo was taken in "Mine number 3" in Svalbard where I played Bach.

(Being paranoid, I even brought the case with my violin 350 meters down!)

It was probably the first time a Guarneri del Gesu was down a former coal mine in the Northernmost habitable island on earth.

The Guarneri del Gesu I play is owned by Dextra Musica.

Yuko, Julia, Stein, Håvard and I had a dress rehearsal for the world premiere of Bernt Simen Lund’s and my collaboration on a new arrangement of the J.S Bach: Goldberg Variations.

We based our arrangement on Bach's own hand copy of the music as well as the Aria from Anna Magadelena's Note book (Bach's wife) and we followed the original urtext for the first time in any comparable arrangement.

Every pitch and note from Bach's piece are played, in its original octave with original ornamentations.

There were no alterations based on Glen Gould's interpretation (which is what one of the most famous arrangements for strings is based on).

There is also a lot of orchestration detail with optional pizzicato and other details included, for those who want to honour the keyboard roots of this piece!

As well as a few new details that were indicated by the original sources, but are not present in modern Urtext editions for some unknown reason!

Please write to us if you are interested in getting a copy of the music for the arrangement, as there is also a version for quartet and quintet (suggestions for a double bass octave that was not in the original octave will be in small print).

The premiere of the orchestral version of this arrangement took place in Tromsø on November 23rd and is available online here:



Yuko, Julia, Stein, Håvard and I on the way to the world premiere concert of the quintet version of Topelius Variations (Orchestral version was commissioned to celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of the Finnish author Zacharias Topelius (1818-98) by the Ostrobotnian Chamber Orchestra).

The Advertiser [Adelaide Now] reviewed the piece in Australia (during th e ACO tour) and stated that:

"Kraggerud’s own Topelius Variations (From Topelius Time), an almost equally new work, provided a far more emotional counterpoint to one of Finland’s most compelling authors with a helter-skelter procession of strongly etched statements and immense drive

Here we are at a children's concert where the Topelius Varitions were played with Zacharias Topelius' fairy tale "Stjerneøye" read in six segments within the music.

Here are the distances from Svalbard. "Sydpolen"(the South Pole) is the furthest away, but the North Pole on the other side of the sign post, is very close. Svalbard is about midway between Tromsø and the North Pole. There are more Polar Bears living at Svalbard than the approximately 2000 (?) humans!

The Arctic Philharmonic will have a chamber music festival running from February 15th to 18th 2018, with our chamber orchestra and the world reknowned cellist Truls Mørk and pianist Håvard Gimse playing with Henning and the orchestra.

If you want to gaze at the Northern Lights by watching Southwards and also hear world class chamber music at the same time, then this is the only place on earth for you! Svalbard's "Longyear" City has two larger hotels, so book your stay early.

We played seven concerts there this weekend early in this "night" which started late-October and the sun will not be up before early March, well after our February Festival (so the festival is actually later in the same night, than when we visited now!)

See more photos from the trip below:

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