The composer's...


Knut Vaage, educated at the Grieg Academy in Bergen, is a versatile composer and pianist with an emphasis on improvisation and contemporary music. He has made significant contributions to orchestral music, including works such as "Janus" and "The Gardens of Hokkaido". Vaage is recognized for his work with hybrid acoustic/electronic soundscapes, especially in works such as "Futuration" and "Hybrid Spectacle", which earned him a nomination for the Nordic Council's music prize in 2022. In addition to instrumental works, Vaage has written several operas. "Someone Is Going To Come" was the first opera based on a text by Jon Fosse. "Khairos" and "Veslefrikk" were created in collaboration with librettist Torgeir Rebolledo Pedersen. He has also composed music for theater productions such as "Per Gynt" and "The White Devil." Vaage is active in the dissemination of contemporary music, also aimed at children and young people. 

About the composer...
“His sensual sonorities are often so beautiful that they motivate you to stretch your ear into the orchestra and listen to the advanced nuances and variations with which he paints.” -Magnus Andersson

nut Vaage is a trained pianist and composer from the Grieg Academy in Bergen. Vaage writes in several styles, both instrumental music, opera and theater music, but with the main emphasis on improvisation and contemporary music. He is known for exploring the boundaries between improvisation and composition. Central among Vaage's instrumental works is his extensive production of orchestral music. It includes works such as "Janus", "Relief", "The Gardens of Hokkaido", "Chatter" and "Chaconne", premiered by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra; "Mylder" and "Rite", premiered by KORK; "Reflex", premiered by Orkester Norden; "Kyklop", premiered by the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra; and "Orkesterdialogar", "Hidden songs" and "Continue", premiered by the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. Chamber music is an important part of Vaage's production. "Svev" for piano trio, was premiered by the Valen Trio. "Bumerang" was premiered by Nidaro's string quartet. "Movements" and "Odyssé" for sinfonietta, were premiered by the BIT20 Ensemble. "Transit" was commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture and premiered by Ensemble Court-circuit. Vaage's cross-genre work for big band "Roots" was commissioned and premiered by Bergen Big Band, with text by Frode Grytten and video by Anne Marthe Dyvi. ("Roots 2" is the tour version). Of works for wind instruments, "Graffiti" for brass band and "Breaking Another Wall" for wind ensemble can be mentioned. For "Graffiti" he received the Edvard prize for 2003. Development of a hybrid acoustic/electronic soundscape is a central theme in Vaage's compositional work. In "Electra", the "multiMORF" series and in "Futuration", he has worked closely with sound designer Thorolf Thuestad to expand the sound spectrum of the instruments through extensive use of electronics. "Futuration" for orchestra and electronics was premiered by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in December 2015.

Knut Vaage has written several vocal works and works for the stage. His first opera, "Someone Is Going To Come", is based on Jon Fosse’s play of the same name. It was the first opera made upon a text by Fosse. The work was premiered by Opera Vest at the Ultima Festival in the autumn of 2000 and received excellent reviews from domestic and international press. The opera has been translated into English and German and performances have taken place in Germany and Luxembourg. "Winter Song" from 2017/2020, to words by Hanne Bramness, exists in two versions: one for counter-tenor and one for mezzo-soprano, both with baroque ensemble. In 2010 Collegium Musicum premiered "Song of Solomo" for soloists, choir and orchestra. "Khairos", a full-scale opera, was conceived together with librettist Torgeir Rebolledo Pedersen. The work was commissioned by the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet and received its first performance in 2013. Rebolledo Pedersen also wrote the libretto to "Veslefrikk", a family opera in one act first performed in September 2010 by Den Nye Opera; "Veslefrikk" was awarded the ARTE audience prize for best production. Vaage created the music for Hordaland teater’s production of "Per Gynt" and Den Nasjonale Scenes production of "The White Devil" by John Webster. Promoting contemporary music in a wider context has been a regular activity of Vaage’s, participating in several projects aimed at the young and at amateur choirs and orchestras. Vaage has been a board member of the Norwegian Composers’ Society, he was leader of the Bergen branch of Ny Musikk, and he has been artistic director of the Autunnale festival and the "Avgarde" concert series, also both based in Bergen.


"The closest BIT20 Ensemble comes to a house composer is probably Knut Vaage. For the past thirty years we have had a close and good collaboration. Through a large number of ensemble works and operas, we have gotten to know Knut and seen him develop and his artistic work. Knut has never stopped being curious and is to this day an extremely vital and exciting creative artist. BIT20 Ensemble is proud to work so closely with one of Norway's most significant composers of today."

"As we know Knut, through his open and experienced mind he will never stagnate, but uncompromisingly continue to listen to his surroundings, and constantly dare to open himself to the new and unknown. Knut is able to carry with him the child's visions, passion and playfulness into the music , and brings hope for humanity through his artistic work."

"He has such an inspiring handwriting. The path from the creative mind via the arm, via the pencil and down to the paper, is beautiful in itself. Knut therefore writes all great works by hand before they are digitized. I have admired this quality from day one. And then, in addition, he is equally virtuosic when dealing with computer programs. The work "Continue" was his breakthrough as an orchestral composer. First performed by the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, the world got to hear his neo-expressionist sound world in orchestral garb for the first time. Partly composed on a plane. Since then, we have understood that Knut's creative world is not so easy to pigeonhole, although I personally feel that expressionism is pervasive. But it is so rich and there is so much more."

"I have created an orchestral work called "Hidden songs", which I started writing on a May day in 2005 while I was at my cabin in Sunnhordland. The first thing I did was stand there and listen to the birds. Then I went in to the piano and wrote down the various birds I heard around, and used this as raw material for the orchestral piece, he says.

Research Project

Composer-Performer Collaborations

The aim of this project was to develop new scores and expressions through dialogue between performer and composer. Instrumental means were investigated by mixing composition and improvisation with hybrid acoustic/electronic sounds. We were a part of the artistic research project «(Un-) settling Sites and Styles» based at the Grieg Academy in Bergen.