Léonie Sonning Talent Prize 2019

Asbjørn Faleide Fristad

He tried, but still ended up as a musician

As a child growing up in Asker just outside Oslo, Asbjørn’s mother took him to a concert with the Norwegian trombonist Christian Lindberg. Even though Christian Lindberg was alone on stage with his trombone, he filled the room up “like a gigantic firework” giving Asbjørn an experience for life.

At that moment, he realised that the music performed here and now is important. It gave Asbjørn a hint that this was what he was going to do later on in life. “It was rather overwhelming to see a rock star on trombone”. This meeting with the star was a milestone in Asbjørn’s life and had great impact on his choices later in life.

As a child, Asbjørn played the trombone, but a completely different musical future was awaiting him, and his sister Gudrun became the one showing him the way. Three years older than Asbjørn, she showed him that you could play with the local brass band, attend musical high school and academy, and that there was something called a Royal Academy of Music. And that you can actually survive as a freelance musician.

Tried NOT to become a musician

Asbjørn grew up in a home with a lot of music, but at amateur level. His parents worked in an office and as a physiotherapist, but they were very musically active in their free time. The father was choirmaster at the church, and the mother played tuba in a brass band. Asbjørn was therefore prepared to do something different when he had finished music schools and academies.

After having tried the theology studies - where everything was great - right from the waffles in the canteen and the student environment to the content of the books - he realised that music was the only way for him. Parallel studies in musicology interested him more, and absence from a theology exam in favour of a music job was the turning point. Music won.

After having studied classical singing and choir conducting at the University of Tromsø and musicology in Oslo, Asbjørn graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus, in both classical and rhythmical choir conducting. In 2018, he had his début concert at Aarhus Cathedral as the first person with a major in Classical Choir Conducting from the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus.

A good day at work

Since then, he has been employed as a teacher at Orkester Efterskolen in Holstebro, he has founded Ensemble Edge and been the chief conductor of the Aarhus Amateur Symphony Orchestra.

On behalf of Aarhus Amateur Symphony Orchestra, Asbjørn contacted the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus, suggesting cooperation with the vocal studies department. In May 2018, this resulted in the performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at Aarhus Concert Hall.

With 900 people in the audience and more than 150 musicians and singers on stage, it was indeed “a good day at work” for Asbjørn, who was in charge of it all as chief conductor and promoter.

Asbjørn Faleide Fristad in brief

Born in Asker, Norway, in 1988.
Graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus after having studied at the Master's and Soloist programme in classical choir conducting and the Master's programme in rhythmical choir conducting.
Début concert in 2018.
Bachelor's degree in Classical Vocal Studies from the Royal Academy of Music at the University of Tromsø.
Studied musicology at the University of Oslo and choir conducting in Tromsø.
Chief conductor of the Aarhus Amateur Symphony Orchestra.
Founder of Ensemble Edge and conductor of several projects involving new music for choir and strings.
From the autumn of 2018, teacher at the Orkester Efterskole in Holstebro.
Lives in Risskov with his Danish wife Liv.

The scholarship from the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation

Asbjørn will spend the scholarship from the Léonie Sonning Music Foundation on a good piano with a good sound which is going to be his daily training tool and inspiration.