Astrid Lindgren's timeless classic children's novel THE BROTHERS LIONHEART comes to life in director Svein Sturla Hungnes' stunning new stage adaption for Det Norske Teatret (The Norwegian Theatre). The dreamlike visual and audial experience is the result of a tight collaboration between director Hungnes, choreography by André Danielsen, scenography by Even Børsum, lighting design by Ola Bråten, music by yours truly and sound design by Vibeke Blydt-Hansen. Add to this a fantastic cast of actors, led by Emil Johnsen as Kavring and Oddgeir Thune as Jonatan.
Music-wise this is certainly one of my biggest projects to date. The play lasts for 90 minutes and there is practically music throughout the whole thing. In total I recorded almost two hours of music for Brørne Løvehjarte during the preparation process. During the rehearsals and fine tuning of the project, this was edited and shortened down to its final length and form. The musical palette consists of a string quintet (featuring musicians from KORK, the great Norwegian Radio Orchestra), plus various percussion and keyboard instruments, and the occational solo voice.
There are several musical themes and motifs, notably the Nangijala theme, representing the idea of the magical afterlife world in which most of the story takes place (or does it, really?). There is also the solo vocalized theme of Sofia and her doves. Then there is the very heavily used Tengil theme, representing the fascist regime which has put the otherwise idyllic world of Nangijala in turmoil. The Tengil theme is a strange beast since it both consists of a four-note motif, and a chord progression of four chords - and these are either played one by one or in various combinations. To make it even more confusing, it is never quite clear if the theme is referring to Tengil in person, or evil in general, since the same theme is also describing the ancient beasts Katla and Karm, and the final battle between good and evil in the afterlife. I can only say to my defense that it felt right. Still does.
The story of brothers Kavring and Jonatan - whose friendship and love not even death can tear apart - have touched multiple generations of readers, and is still as relevant and still as utterly heartbreaking today as it was when first published in 1972.
BRØRNE LØVEHJARTE premiered at Det Norske Teatret October 3, 2014, and continued through the winter and spring of 2015.
It's not every day you get to work with Astrid Lindgren's dark children's classic, an immensely moving story that so many readers of all ages hold dear. And when you do get that chance, you kind of need to do a good job. I made lots and lots of music for BRØRNE LØVEHJARTE, a lot more than the album's 53 minutes, so the cliché about killing your darlings really came into full fruit on this one. But I really wanted the album to work as a satisfying listening experience for all fans of not only the stage adaption for which the music was made, but for fans of Astrid Lindgren's classic novel in general. My hope is that I have done just that, and that the album can also work as a companion to the original book - without words, but with the instrumental score as the only guide.
Click here to listen to the album on your favourite digital music service, or use the embedded Spotify player below.