PDF – Curriculum Vitae
Espen has a vast list of performances both domestically and abroad and several awards and nominations on his résumé. His knowledge of different musical styles and skills on different instruments has taken him from playing classical mandolin in Tokyo to playing Berber music in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Raised in Geilo, a small Norwegian mountain village between Oslo and Bergen, I started making music at an early age. The village was small and situated far from other big cities so there were few possibilities to attend concerts. But the local community was encouraging culture and music amongst the young ones. Some of the mentors back then is still close friends of mine. I received my first guitar at the age of 5 but initially starting making music on the trumpet and the piano. In my early teens I started to get fascinated by the guitar and the different mandolin family instruments. The different plucked stringed instruments have been my main inspiration when I want to express myself musically. I also play several other stringed instruments, the concertina, piano, various flute instruments and bukkehorn. I currently live in Oslo and work as a self-employed musician with several active projects and concerts throughout the country.
My musical education started quite early with culture school and all the basics in music theory and performance. Later on in my high school years I would go on to study classical music and the classical guitar. At that time I was also a member of Oslo Gitar Ensemble and was playing concerts and doing productions with Sven Lundestad, Duo Gvito and different choirs and dancers. After high school I went on to study jazz at the Norwegian Academy of Music with Jon Eberson, Morten Halle and Bjørn Kjellemyr. The jazz students and the folk music students shared rehearsal rooms in the academy and it caught my interest to pursue the folk music quite early on. I started dwelling into the world of folk already on my first year studying jazz at the academy. In my last years at the academy I was going deeper into the world of traditional music while at the same time working a lot with improvisation. I also studied traditional Norwegian folk music and traditional instruments with Odd Sylvarnes Lund and Steinar Ofsdal among others. I finished my bachelor studies at the academy in 2015 with top grades on my final exam concert. My musical development in the bachelor degree in the academy was consisting of further progress in the art of improvisation and interplay and slowly finding my own musical language in traditional music, bringing everything that I have learned while studying into a more modern expression of folk music. One of the most important things during those years was that I got many new friends and I got to play with many great musicians which inspired me greatly and that I still get to play with to this day. In 2018 I was going back to the Norwegian Academy of Music to do my masters degree. I was the first student on guitar and other plucked instruments to be accepted in the Graduate Program of Musical Performance in Folk Music. My main focus point during those years was to explore and expand the possibilities of the guitar in folk music. I finished the masters degree in 2020 and have been working full time as a freelance musician since then. Though my studies finished long time ago, I am very much inspired to continue to expand my musical language and to keep developing my own style and approach in music.
I have been working as a professional freelance musician since 2008 and this has been my main line of work ever since. Most of my work is playing concerts on different stages, though occasionally I also play in venues like radio, television or in theatres. Recordings and studio work is also a significant part of my career. I have had the opportunity to play in some big projects ranging from huge television broadcasts to playing with symphony orchestras.
I work with professional musicians from multiple genres and from many different nations. In this line of work you also get to travel a lot and see different cultures and meet new people. That is a part of my work I really appreciate and enjoy. I have found my place in the musical landscape as a passionate musician who really enjoys different types and genres of music and I find great joy in performing all of the styles I exercise. It is with great gratitude that I get to play music as a livelihood with people I appreciate and respect.
In my musical life I have always been searching for beautiful and simple melodies. My musical philosophy is that those magical moments in music that we all strive to recreate or invent are often constructed of very simple elements. In this way, the musician have more freedom to play the melody either simple or complex. Many of my compositions are characterized by the principle of simplicity, but provides that it can be complex at the same time. I do also enjoy to play more complex material and I do also compose in this way at times. It needs a different kind of mental approach and can be just as rewarding when done right.
In my opinion it is very interesting to listen to and create music that tells a story. A tale with an intruiging plot and an exciting development. I come to think of the old folk tales that were told to me by my grandmother when I was a child. These stories caught my attention immediately and I was dragged into a completely separate world full of excitement. In my improvisations and compositions I try to get as close to these principles as possible. In later years my focus has been on improvisation not connected with any specific genre but more on how an improvisation works when it is connected more with an individual melody or feeling. This has been very rewarding to incorporate when I play in all the different genres. In improvisation fellow musician’s can have a conversation and get to know more about each other. No words need to be spoken but mutual understanding is still present. This is a great way to connect with a person on a different level and to get to know each other.
Above all, the music should be joyful and rewarding for both the performer and the listener. It should be a platform for communication between people for which no spoken language can ever be a substitute.
The Kuraybers & Jelena Tomasevic at Kulturkirken Jakob 4th of June 2017.