− I like the process from practicing and learning to playing together with colleagues, then the meeting with a good conductor and soloist, and then moving gradually towards the culmination in the concert experience itself and the meeting with the public. Then there is nothing better than being a musician in the Oslo Philharmonic!Niels Aschehoug
Violinist Niels Aschehoug discovered the Beatles and Beethoven around the same time:
− My parents had a Pioneer radio and a small record player in the 1960s. On that we played the Beatles´ latest singles, but also Beethoven´s Fifth symphony. That must have awakened some sort of fascination for the music world in me. It also seems that I could sing purely songs I had heard on the radio from the age of two or three.
New worlds opened up when the family bought a cassette player:
− My parents subscribed to cassette tapes with classical music. The legendary and intoxicating violin and cello solos in the ballet music to Tchaikovsky´s Swan Lake gave me goosebumps. The tape was played relentlessly until it was almost completely worn out.
Offered a job after four intense years
When he was seven, Niels started playing the piano with Sigrid Ree Wekre, mother of horn player Frøydis Ree Wekre who later became his colleague in the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.
− I remember Sigrid as a charismatic and strong, but warm-hearted teacher. She communicated her love of classical music to her students through intense piano lessons and famous student soirées at her house on Olav Kyrres Plass.
When he was eight or nine he started studying the violin with Bernard Wilth and Wanda Sprus from the Oslo Philharmonic. He also joined the newly-established Nordstrandhøgda String Orchestra, a youth orchestra led by Oddvar Mordal, viola player in the Oslo Philharmonic.
− He was a typical trailblazer who, with his musical and pedagogical abilities built up a wonderful environment for string players at Munkerud school. He was a pioneer. His quest for quality and discipline was clearly inspired by Mariss Jansons, who had just taken over as Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic. Oddvar later became my violin teacher and the most inspiring person for me in my early years, just as Mariss was in my first sixteen years as a musician in the Oslo Philharmonic.
At Norges Musikkhøgskole he had Isaac Schuldman as a teacher. He also studied with Detlef Hahn in London.
− Isaac Schuldman had me under his strong command, and after four intense and demanding years I was offered a position in the Oslo Philharmonic. My highest aim had been reached!
A great experience in Vienna
Niels finds his greatest pleasures as a musician in the process running up to a concert:
− I like the process from practicing and learning to playing together with colleagues, then the meeting with a good conductor and soloist, and then moving gradually towards the culmination in the concert experience itself and the meeting with the public. Then there is nothing better than being a musician in the Oslo Philharmonic!
Of his many experiences as an orchestra musician there are some magical moments from the Musikverein in Vienna with Mariss Jansons which have made the deepest impression:
− We played Verdi´s Requiem, Strauss´ Ein Heldenleben and Mahler´s Third symphony. As an added bonus to the concert in the Musikverein, a few of us ran over to the Wiener Staatsoper and caught the last act of Strauss´ Der Rosenkavalier, with a world-class orchestra and soloists. It was an unforgettable evening!
Niels also plays the Baroque violin regularly in Barokkanerne and the Norwegian Baroque Orchestra and has played with the English early music ensemble Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
− It is a strong emotional and resonant experience to play Bach´s Mass in B minor, St John Passion or Handel´s Messiah in an orchestra consisting of old original instruments, or copies of these. The sound colours and the rhythmical rhetoric sounds fresh and liberating. Baroque music also offers a varied and at times unknown repertoire which I love to play – as well as the meetings with inspiring musicians who love this music.
Loves the magic of an opera house
Niels wishes he had time to play opera as well:
− When I met my wife, who was attending opera school in London, I became seriously interested in the world of opera. Since then, I have loved the opera repertoire, the magic of an opera house, and particularly Baroque opera, for example Handel´s Alcina. I worked for a year in Komische Oper in Berlin, where I played lots of great music and made many good friends.
His best advice to members of the audience seeking a good concert experience, is to try to sit as close to the musicians as possible, maybe behind the orchestra.
− It´s great to physically experience the energy which occurs between the conductor, the musicians and the audience!
In his free time, Niels prefers being outdoors:
− I´m often out with Gaius, our hunting cocker spaniel. I hope to take my hunting proficiency test soon. It´s fascinating to learn about the collaboration between dog and owner. Otherwise, I enjoy kayaking, skiing or travelling with my family.