RIT enchants with song

Olav H. Hauge’s dream landscape

The Norwegian American

On Oct. 23, patrons of the Leif Erikson International Festival are in for a treat, when the musical program RIT concludes the 2022 program in the Galleri at Norway House.

The show will have already traveled to South Dakota, making its way from the Midwest to Washington state, back to Minnesota and North Dakota, and then onto New York City, where the tour concludes. (See below for a full schedule of the performances.)

RIT showcases the poetry of Norwegian Olav H. Hauge as performed by Norwegian artists Reidun Horvei (voice) and Inger-Kristine Riber (keyboard and composition).

The word “rit” is old Norwegian for “write” or “sketch.”The poems in the song cycle follow the seasons of the year at the same time that they mark developments in Hauge’s poetry and personal life.

An introduction to the program and the poet will be given by Hanson, affiliate associate professor at Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington. Hanson collaborated with Horvei and Riber on the creation of RIT, which had its Norwegian premiere at the Ulvik Poetry Festival on Sept. 5, 2021. Over the following six weeks RIT was performed 25 times throughout western Norway.

The composer, text developer, and musicians have collaborated closely in this production to explore Hauge’s dreamscape. The goal is to bring the audience into thoughts, feelings, and spaces they’ve never visited before.

A room that tempts you to search for the sound of the inner life, there is still a desire for change. RIT is shaped like a monologue that alternates between recitation, narration, and song. The work shows a development with moments of humor, drama, anxiety, but also a calmness that offers openness, reflection, meditation and a greater experience of Hauge’s poetry.

Photo courtesy of Vestnorsk Utvandringssenter
After its great success in Norway last year, the musical program RIT with Inger-Kristine Riber (left), Katherine Hanson (center), and Reidun Horvei (right) will premiere in North America in Minneapolis on Oct. 23.

About the performers

Singer Reidun Horvei has worked as a freelance soprano and folk singer for many years. She has had concert tours across large parts of Norway with special programs, ranging from classical music to folk song to contemporary music. Horvei is also well-known to audiences in the United States. Her most recent tours presented a musical program called Migrasong about the Norwegian immigration to North America. This program was also a collaboration with Riber. More recently, the two Norwegians collaborated with the Seattle-Bergen String Quartet on a Norwegian Christmas program, Vintersong, performing in Seattle, Bergen, and throughout Hordaland in Norway.

Pianist and composer Inger-Kristine Riber was educated at the University of Oslo, Norway’s musikkhøgskole and the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien in Hannover, Germany. In addition to her solo studies in classical piano and chamber music, Riber has also made a mark in cultural entrepreneurship. Much of her work is colored by a vision to create new arenas for classical music.

Katherine Hanson earned her doctorate from the University of Washington Department of Scandinavian Language and Literature, with her dissertation “Nature Imagery in Olav H. Hauge’s Poetry.” Hanson has taught at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., and more recently, the University of Washington.

Hanson is also a recognized scholar in Norway and was awarded the Amboltprisen (Anvil Award) by the Friends of Olav H. Hauge Association in 2021. The award recognizes extraordinary contributors to the knowledge and promotion of awareness of the poetry of Norwegian poet Olav Hauge. Earlier in 2008, the American poet Robert Bly, one of Hauge’s translators, was also a recipient of this prestigious literary prize.

This article originally appeared in the October 7, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.