The Nordics Unveiled Podcast

Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing has grown up in a village of Aurdal, in the valley of Valdres where centuries old folk music tradition had influenced and inspired composers such as Grieg, Ole Bull and Halvorsen. The so called ‘Nordic sound’ is strongly inspired by nature, moods and changes. Everything from the northern lights, to deep mountains and valleys, to water.
The lyrical, melancholic and often cautious optimists are a key words to explain what can often be characterized as Nordic. The clean, simple and often pictorial. At the same time, it is a courage and a force to be reckoned with, as can be drawn from Nordic fairy tales, often with a warm humor. Many of these features also appear in other artistic disciplines. How has history shaped us and what can we learn from who we are today?

Embark on the journey to the North and join Eldbjørg Hemsing in “The Nordics Unveiled“, exploring the themes of Nordic mythology, folk music, Sami tradition, discovery of forgotten Nordic works in music, philosophy, architecture and nature.


Norwegian composer Lasse Thoresen

Lasse Thoresen

Folk motives and the Nordic sound

In the very first episode of The Nordics Unveiled Norwegian violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing is joint by one of Norway’s most celebrated composers, Lasse Thoresen. Thoresen is recipient of numerous international awards and accolades, including the most prestigious Scandinavian the Nordic Music Prize. He is praised for his unique soundscape rooted in elements of folk music, taking listener on a journey full of surprises.

Lasse Thoresen is also a professor of composition at the Norwegian State Academy of Music where he teaches composition, electro-acoustic music, and sonology since 1975.


Mette Henriette

Sami heritage in the modern Nordic sound

In the new episode of the Nordics Unveiled, Eldbjørg Hemsing is joint by the exceptional multi-faceted artist Mette Henriette. Norwegian Sami saxophonist, composer and performing artist has been captivating audiences and critiques around the globe – the youngest artist to be signed to the legendary label ECM, Mette’s debut album was also named the “Jazz Record of the year” (Independent).

An artistic voice of today, Mette Henriette joins Eldbjørg Hemsing for a conversation about her inspiration and connection to the nature in the Nordics, discovery of her Sami heritage and the Nordic sound.


Ottar Kåsa - Hardanger fiddle player

Ottar Kåsa

“Instrument of the devil” Hardanger fiddle

In the new episode of “The Nordics Unveiled” Eldbjørg Hemsing is joint by a Hardanger fiddle musician and violin-maker Ottar Kåsa. Throughout the episode, Eldbjørg and Ottar will be unveiling the history and mystery connected to the Norwegian national instrument Hardingfele or Hardanger fiddle in English.

Ottar Kåsa is renowned Hardanger fiddle player and violinmaker, praised for making first class instruments. After attending the prestigious Ole Bull Academy in Voss, he established his own workshop, continuing nurturing the expertise of craftmanship of Hardanger fiddle making and playing.

The oldest found Hardanger fiddle dates back to a year 1651, belonging to Ole Jonsen Jaastad (1621 – 1694), who lived in the village of Ullensvang in Hardanger. Frequently referred also as “the instrument of the Devil”. Hardanger fiddle throughout the centuries remained an important part of Norwegian social and cultural heritage.

Hardanger fiddle from 1899 made by Peder Braatan Kroken Toke
Hardanger fiddle from 1899 made by Peder Braatan Kroken Toke

In modern designs, Hardanger fiddle is very similar to violin, though with either 8 or 9 strings (rather than four as on a standard violin) and thinner wood. Four of the strings are strung and played like a violin, while the rest, aptly named understrings or sympathetic strings resonate under the influence of the other four.

The instrument is often highly decorated, with a carved animal (usually with a dragon or Lion of Norway), extensive inlay with the mother of pearl on tailpiece and fingerboard as well as the black ink decorations called “rosing” on the body of the instrument.


Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje, composer

Maja S. K. Ratkje

Contemporary sound from the North

In the new episode of “the Nordics Unveiled”, Eldbjørg Hemsing is joint by one of the Nordic’s most exciting composers of the younger generation, the bold and charismatic Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje. Maja is most definitely on the forefront, when it comes to the musical avant-garde, known for stark contrasts and a nuanced balances. She is celebrated and awarded with prizes both in Scandinavia and abroad, including the Edvard Prize and prestigious UNESCO Rostrum Award.

Throughout the episode, Maja S. K. Ratkje joins Eldbjørg Hemsing for a conversation exploring the Nordic sound, contemporary music impulses and her playfulness with improvisation in sound making.


Knut Ljøgodt, director of Nordic Institute of Art

Dr. Knut Ljøgodt

Nordic reflections in Fire Art

Joining Eldbjørg Hemsing for the new podcast episode of “The Nordics Unveiled” is renowned Norwegian art historian and curator Dr. Knut Ljøgodt. Previously working at the National Gallery in Oslo, as Director at the Northern Norway Art Museum in Tromsø and Founding Director of Kunsthall Svalbard, dr. Ljøgodt is today leading the Nordic Institute of Art, which he co-founded in 2017. His curatorial work has been praised both in the Nordics and internationally.

As a leading scholar on Nordic and European 19th century art, including Romantic landscape painting and history painting, he is the perfect guest to help unveil the mystery of the Nordic Fine Arts.


Hallgrim Hansegård, Frikar (photo credit: Pål-Laukli)

Hallgrim Hansegård

Movement from the North, heritage of dance

In the new episode of the Nordics Unveiled, Eldbjørg Hemsing is exploring the rich heritage of dance. Joining her exploration is Norwegian choreographer, dancer and entrepreneur Hallgrim Hansegård – know for his dance company Frikar. Known for his innovative and playful dance projects, Hallgrim is continuously breaking physical, psychological and cultural barriers.

Hallgrim Hansegård has truly made a name with bringing the rich traditional folk dance ‘halling’ to the global audiences, both through live performances, TV productions and even video games. His projects had been performed in more than 30 countries and have reached over 100 million views on YouTube. Most interestingly, his performance has also been censored by Catholic Church in Italy. Hallgrim has in 2006 founded his own dance company FRIKAR, artistically leading a space where Norwegian traditional folk dance and other sub-cultures within dance community can experiment, develop and nurture the heritage by sharing it to the future generations.


Terje Isungset

Terje Isungset

When the coldness of ice resonates

In the new episode of the Nordics Unveiled, Eldbjørg Hemsing is joint by one of Europe’s most accomplished and innovative percussionists Terje Isungset.

With over two decades of experience in jazz and Scandinavian music, Terje has already made a significant mark in pushing the musical boundaries far beyond tradition. His distinctive artistic works are exploring the interdisciplinary performances of sound and shamanistic rituals.

Crafting his own instruments from natural elements such as arctic birch, granite, slate, sheep bells and most remarkably the ice. Terje is highly recommended to those sensible to the poetry and simplicity of sounds, with ‘timbres’ and ‘colours’ being central in his music and compositions.

Media praises him as innovative, visual, energetic and different from any previously known concepts. Percussion Profiles publication has listed him among the 25 of the world’s most creative percussionists and he was also named the Norwegian Jazz musician of the year.

Terje Isungset percussionist (ice instruments)


Per Sundnes, NRK

Per Sundnes

Pop culture of the North

The guest of the last pre-Christmas Nordics Unveiled episode is the exciting and outspoken music journalist and presenter Per Sundnes. A familiar face in Scandinavia, Per is known for his pop culture expertise, specialized in music and fashion. Per attended the University of Arts London, with focus on film and TV, and has since 2002 worked at the Norwegian broadcasting corporation NRK. His most known tv programs include the Store Studio and Norwegian part of the Eurovision Song Contest.


Synne Skouen, composer

Synne Skouen

Prominent voice of Nordic music scene

The Nordics Unveiled is back after a short Christmas break, and Eldbjørg Hemsing is welcoming you to join her exploration of the Nordic. In the new episode, she is joint by composer Synne Skouen, without exaggerating one of the most prominent people in Norwegian music life. Celebrated as a composer, recipient of numerous awards and accolades, highly respected journalist and music critic, and we could continue naming. Synne was also the first editor-in chief of the music journal Ballade and head of cultural channels at Norwegian Broadcaster NRK.

Celebrating her 70th birthday in 2020, Synne continues inspiring generations of women across the cultural field. Welcome to another journey to the North with the Nordics Unveiled!


5.0 out of 5

Painting Serene Soundscapes


The Nordics Unveiled dives into a culture few people have yet had access to, showcasing how the environment of the North has inspired both the sounds and the legends that come out of it. The first episode was able to take me away from the highway I was biking along to the vast landscape of the snowy mountain tops! The host of the show has a friendly, calming voice imbued with expert perspectives that spark enlightening conversations and heartwarming connection quite like her music itself.

A soft, gentle and warm show


As her name suggest, Eldbjørg is on fire here! This is the podcast I never knew I needed, but now can’t wait until the next episode comes

f you are a person that does not know anything about Nordic culture I would advise to listen to this podcast, as it is like a soft, warm blanket on a cold (Nordic) winter night. I highly recommend sipping from a warm chocolate drink while listening to the soft voices on the show. Although informative, I do recommend a basic knowledge of the northern European countries, their location and general history before listening. And no, Vikings (the TV-show) is not a good reference. Tusen Takk Eldbjørg



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