Helge Sunde

Helge Sunde - ©Christine Gullhav
Helge Sunde - ©Christine Gullhav

Helge Sunde (born on June 9, 1965) enjoys a career as a very versatile composer and performing musician. His main activity is that of a composer, having written commissioned works for a large number of orchestras and ensembles.

At the Norwegian State Academy of Music, Sunde studied composition under Olav Anton Thommessen, Bjørn Kruse, Lasse Thoresen and Alfred Janson, graduating with a diploma. He completed his studies in 1995 by releasing the CD compilation “Absolute Pling Plong” together with seven of his co-students.

Helge Sunde also works as an arranger for artists in cooperation with symphony orchestras, and in addition he writes music for film and scene.

He produced and “sound-designed” the disputed 2000 Simax release “Remembrance” that featured pop/rock vocalist Øivind “Elg” Elgenes and Grete Helle Rasmussen’s renditions of Franz Schubert and Alban Berg pieces.

Besides «Norske Store» Sunde has served as a musical director for various big-bands such as the Sandvika Storband, Prime Time Orchestra and BærMuDa – Bærum Music and Dance Theatre. As a performing musician, Sunde is frequently featured in the role of lead trombonist and soloist with such ensembles/big-bands as ACT artists «Geir Lysnes Listening Ensemble», «ImproviceVersa», the «Norwegian Radio Orchestra» etc. With fellow Norwegian State Academy of music students, Sunde formed the «Oslo Groove Company» which won a Spellemannspris – a Norwegian Grammy – in 1990. 1992 saw Sunde representing Norway in the Munich-based EBU big-band as a trombonist and composer. He have also recorded with bands like Trygve Seim Orchestra («Sangam») and Motorpsycho («Let them Eat Cake»).

Sunde has also contributed to releases and concerts with such bands and artists as Sharp Nine, Vidar Busk, the salsaband La Descarga, Appaloosa, Mr. Pankow, TOBB and Ophelia Orchestra, who recently made the record «Schall und Rauch» (Sound and Smoke) with music from 1920s Berlin. He is also often found playing the alto trombone parts of Mozarts Requiem or the Great C minor Mass. In addition to his main instrument, Sunde is also adept at most brass instruments as well as piano, keyboards, synths and even some woodwind instruments is found in his 40 piece collection of instruments.

As a teacher, Sunde is employed by the Norwegian State Academy of Music at the institution’s jazz, trombone, composition and arrangement classes. He has also taught at the University of Oslo, the Agder University College and he has been a guest lecturer at the acclaimed jazz course at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

Recent projects that Sunde has been involved in include arranging music for a whole concert with Iranian Santur player Javid Asfari Rad and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, premiere on September 14, 2006.

On August 4, 2006 a first performance of «A Flute sounded in my blood» took place at the Hamsun festival at Hamarøy, a commission from the «MiN Ensemble» and «Vocal Art». October will not only bring the release of «DeNada» with Norske Store, but also «Rotations» as mentioned above, a compilation of works for orchestra and ensembles, made as a composer portrait CD, on Norwegian Society of Composers label «Aurora». This autumn will also premiere his music for a documentary movie, music for an old Norwegian silent movie, «The Wedding of Baldevin» (partly filmed in Lübeck in 1926), a brass quintet written to «call» for the Norwegian equivalent of the seaworm of LochNess in the Seljord water in Telemark, and a multi-instrumental solo concert project for children with brass instruments connected with garden-hoses and electronic sensor triggers (I-CubeX) and so on...

Examples of commissioned works include «Nocturnal Natures» – a 40 minute piece for symphony orchestra and Supersilent members Arve Henriksen and Ståle Storløkken as well as percussionist Knut Aalefjær and Sunde himself. A small excerpt of this even found its way to the «DeNada» recording.

Talking of Arve Henriksen, it might be a curiosity that he and Helge Sunde both grew up in the same small village with approximately 1200 inhabitants; Stryn, located in the end of one of the beautiful fjords of western Norway. The song «Om kvelden» (At Dawn) comes from this districts rich chest of traditional folk songs. Another incident is that from the same generation this district also had 4 players in the Norwegian national football team who beat Brasil in the 1998 world cup! (which also can explain his addiction to football.)

Another addiction from his youth was chess, and another big commission was «Caissa» for the Ultima festival 2003, where the Staff Band of the Norwegian Armed Forces was spread in small groups placed all over the concert hall, even in the audience, playing musical battles resembling chess, and maybe revealing some of Helge Sundes admiration for projects like Heiner Goebbles and Ensemble Moderns world of instrumental theater, pointing into projects that lies somewhere in the future.

Together with percussion player Terje Isungset, (also a member of Geir Lysnes Listening Ensemble) he made the outdoor opening work for the Bergen Music Festival of 2002, with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and 1000 children coming on to the stage from all over the town centre.

In the future Helge Sunde will continue writing for and conducting «Norske Store» besides writing for instance a trumpet concerto for the internationally acclaimed Norwegian trumpet player Ole Edvard Antonsen.