Per Sæmund Bjørkum

1. Violin

−​ For me it’s always been natural to play both classical and folk music, and it feels as if the folk music part of me has benefited from what I have learned through classical music, and vice-versa.

  • Member since: 1997
  • Born: 1970 in Oslo
  • Education: Studied with teachers Ole Bøhn, Arve Tellefsen and Magnus Ericsson at the Norwegian Academy of Music.
  • Recordings: Traditional music: Den vare fela (Heilo 1994); Slåtter frå Torger Olstads Notebok (Bergen Digital 1995) Konsert på Kleppe (JPS Records 2005) Berg og vatn (Grappa 2001)
  • Awards: Norwegian Grammy in the folk music category in 2001 for Berg og vatn.
  • Other: Project musician in the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra.

Per Sæmund Bjørkum grew up in Bærum with parents from Gudbrandsdalen and Sogn who were active in youth work.

− From I was quite young, I accompanied them to various events and competitions where folk music and dance formed a natural part, he says.

− Perhaps that was how I became exposed to fiddle playing, and which made me want to try it. I can’t quite remember it clearly, but I wanted and got a fiddle for my sixth birthday, and began to take lessons from the fiddler Rolv Brimi from Lom. Brimi was studying in Oslo at the time.

Per Sæmund started early in playing both folk music and classical music:

When Brimi moved back to Lom the following year, I started studying with Pål Skogum, who was a very inspirating teacher for me for many years. When I started school the following year, I studied with Marlise Bøhn, learning to read music and to play the classical violin. A few years later I began studying with her son Ole Bøhn.

− My musical mother tongue

During his childhood, Per Sæmund was the winner in his class at Landskappleiken several times. Later he studied the classical violin at Norges Musikkhøgskole with Arve Tellefsen and Magnus Ericsson. For years, he was Associate Professor of fiddle-playing at the same school, until 2015.

He has never experienced a contradiction between the two musical fields:

− For me it’s always been natural to play both classical and folk music, and it feels as if the folk music part of me has benefited from what I have learned through classical music, and vice-versa.

He was engaged by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra in 1997 and has been part of the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra since 1990. In 2001 he won Spellemannsprisen in the folk music category with the album Berg og Vatn. As a folk musician he extends the folk music tradition from Vågå in Gudbrandsdalen.

− The traditional music from Vågå is probably my musical mother tongue, if it is possible to describe it in that way. It is the tones and and tonality which are bound to both lineage and upbringing. My mother was from Vågå, and although I have grown up in Bærum, I spent a lot of time in an environment with many people from Gudbrandalen as well as fiddle players who lived in Oslo during that time.