ALF WILHELM LUNDBERG

8-STRING GUITAR VIRTUOSO, COMPOSER AND CHESS CHAMPION

CV

 

Education

• Master in Performing Music in 8-string Brahms guitar at the Jazz Department, NTNU 2016 - present

• Master in Performing Music in 8-string Brahms guitar at Baroque/early music Dep. UiA 2016 – present

• Part time studies in Pedagogic Teaching studies and Classical Guitar at Music Dep. NTNU 2007-2008

• Cand. Mag in Jazzpiano, jazzguitar and composition at the Jazz Department, NTNU 1999-2003

• Skeisvang High School, Music Department 1997-1999

 

Commissioned works as a composer

• Surrounded By the Fortress – music written and inspired by Kristiansten Fortress 2015

• Mysterium Fidei – commissioned and financed by Kammerkoret Bocca 2012

• Suite for the Seagulls – commissioned by Sildajazz, supported by Art’s Counsil Norway 2010

 

My artistic collaborations/bands/albums

• Norchestra – a trio that blends classical and jazz - 3 albums released 2000 - present

• Suite for the Seagulls – Gnu Quartet (IT) / Norchestra (NO) Album release autumn 2017 2010 - present

• Duo Magico – 8-string guitar duo debut album released 2016 2014 – present

• Szabo/Lundberg/Major Trio (HUN/NO)– Debut album “Hidden Dimension” 2013

• Sandor Szabo – Alf Wilhelm Lundberg Duo – free improvisation album 2017 2013 – present

• Gionni Di Clemente – Alf Wilhelm Lundberg Duo (IT/NO) 2010-2012

• Kofi/Makowski quartet (UK/PO/NO) gig at London Jazz Festival + tour poland 2007-2009

• String Thing – (IT/NO) 2007-2009

• All Strings Trio (IT/NO) – Modern string swing fusion trio 2003-2008

 

Producer/Curator

• Curator of the artistic program of Akustiske Landskap Guitarfestival 2012 - present

• Record Producer and recording engineer at Acoustic Landscapes Record Label 2011 - present

• Record Producer of Norchestra’s 4 albums from 2008-2017 produced and edited in Pro Tools 2008-2017

 

Awards

• Statoil Sildajazz Award 2006

• Haugesund Kommunes Kulturstipend 2004

• 1st prize Umbria Jazz Clinics Berklee College of Music 2003

 

Scholarships

•Scholarship from Norwegian Jazzforum to study 8-string guitar with Paul Galbraith in Basel 2012

•Scholarship from Fund for Performing Arts to study with Ralph Towner in Rome 2011

•Scholarship from Fund for Performing Arts to study with Nelson Veras in Paris 2008

•Scholarship from Fund for Performing Arts to study with Adam Rogers in New York 2008

 

Teaching

• Music Teacher in Guitar at Trondheim Music School 60% 2010 - present

• Guitar Teacher in Tre45, private Music School 30% 2006-2009

• Guitar Teacher at Haugesund Music School 20% 2004-2005

 

Chess

• Shared 1st price at The Open Norwegian Championship at Fagernes rating performance: 2177 2015

• Trondheim and Region of Sør-Trøndelag Champion 2013

• Draw in a simul at London Chess Classic against former world finalist Nigel Short he won 23, 1 draw. 2012

• Winner Knut Brokstad Memorial Grand Prix Group B 2011

• Shared first place 1st board at team competition for National Schools in Chess in Moss, score 6 out of 7 1991

 

CHESS, JAZZ and CLASSICAL Complete biography

 

 

Since I was a child I played chess from the age of 6, taught by my father and my older brother. When attending school at 7 it was then clear that I was the best chess player in my class 1A at Hauge School in Haugesund. Anyway, I wasn't so good, when I met the best player in 1B I lost to a variation of the scholar's mate against the future Norwegian junior chess champion Dagfinn Snarheim. We then started to play and learn from each other, and at 8 we joined the Haugesund Chess Club led by Paal Kristian Levang. We played regularly at Karmøy and in Haugesund facing hard opponents especially from the Hagesæther family who had an arsenal of highly skilled chess players we often would loose against and then could learn from. In 1991 me and Dagfinn participated in the Norwegian Championship from school teams where I on 1st board was undefeated and scored the best score in the tournament with 6 out of 7 points with 5 wins and 2 draws. I also won against the later International Master Torstein Bae, who was then the top seed in our age group of chess players in Norway. Torstein Bae is now the expert commentator in Norwegian National Broadcasting TV- Channel NRK, famous for analysing Magnus Carlsen's moves in the world championships matches in the recent years. I again did a comeback with chess in 2011, then performing at the opening ceremony of the London Chess Classics in 2012 and participating in a simul against former World Champion Finalist Nigel Short. Here is I surprised being the only player to draw against Short, all the others lost. More about this here. (article and Interview in Norwegian by Norwegian online newspaper Nettavisen) A year later I won the Trondheim Championship, becoming the Trondheim Chess Champion in 2013. In 2015 I won shared 1st price at the Norwegian Championship during Fagernes Chess International, scoring 6 out of 7 with a rating performance of 2177.

 

Anyway, at 14 I kind of grew a bit tired of chess, I hated to study the openings, and lost motivation. Music became a more and more important part of my life as I in that period developed a lot as an improvising trumpet player as well as a pianist and composer. I quickly learnt to play very precisely any musical idea I had in my head and to get it out on immediately on trumpet and on piano. I learnt a lot improvising with Brislingane Junior Jazz Big Band, and out of that big band grew my first band ever, the legendary Basin Street Jazzband, whom I got my first paid jobs as a musician and improviser. In the meantime I began the music High School at Skeisvang VGS in Haugesund and I then learnt a lot of classical piano from Stein Ivar Fossum, jazz piano and jazz trumpet with Erling Brathole, studying the jazz phrasing of Chet Baker and other greats. Trumpet was the most demanding instrument I had ever played, and it showed soon it wasn't for me. Soon I began to transfer my improvisational skills developed on trumpet to piano, and then I started to study jazzpiano on my own and jazzgreats like Dag Arnesen, Chick Corea, The Real Thing and transcribing solos as well as playing with the band Notes of Nature with Haugesunds great jazz singer Christina Bjordal. This band was fundamental in giving me lots of experience live, improvising on stage and arranging/playing famous jazzstandards at festivals, private events, studio recordings as well as arranging our own concerts. In that period we started listening a lot to Pat Metheny, and one Christmas Vacation where I could borrow a guitar led to a life changing experience. I was only in the middle of the 2nd year at High School when I totally fell in love with the guitar! It was so strong this connection that I felt with the classical guitar with nylon strings that I knew just after a few days that I would play this instrument the rest of my life.

 

At the third year at the high school I decided to apply at the famous Norwegian Jazz Academy Jazzlinja, NTNU. I of course wasn't good enough to apply there on guitar since I had only played the instrument for a year or so, so I decided to put all my efforts into entering there as a jazz pianist. I was lucky enough to get tips from my friend Jarl-Helge Utvik that I could study with great jazz pianist Svein Olav Herstad before auditioning in front of the jury at Jazzlinja. I learnt a lot from him as a pianist, especially from the touch, and his time, being just behind the beat in a way that creates a lot of energy and excitement (also called swing). It must have been a good choice, since I was accepted into the final round at the audition and played my best at the final audition. Two weeks later I got to know I was one of the very few lucky ones to get a place at the Jazz Education at NTNU, together with Mathias Eick and 10 other really skilled young musicians. I auditioned with a piece that made the birth of my trio Norchestra as a band, a symphonic piece called "Moon and Sun, Clouds and Wind, combining classical structured compositions with spontanious interplay and improvisation. In 2001 we gave our debut concert as a trio under the name "Alf Wilhelm Lundberg Symphonic Trio" - and that recording was luckily captured by Erling Sande. It was released as "Norchestra - Live in Tysvær" for the group in August 2011, ten years after the actual concert in 2001. It is available to listen through streaming services like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

 

When entering I already had fallen so much in love with the guitar that I basically used the 4 years there to study both piano and guitar intensively as well as composition. I studied the piano with Vigleik Storaas and Egil Kapstad, and the guitar with Gunnar Andreas Berg, Christian Haug and Nils Olav Johansen. Composition with Henning Sommerro, Terje Bjørklund and Odd Johan Overøye. At my final exam in 2003 I was the only student that played two different instruments during the exam. My progress as a jazz guitarist obviously had taken off quite a lot, since I won the first prize as a Jazz Guitarist at the Umbria Jazz Clinics by Berklee School of Music in Perugia during Umbria Jazz in July 2003, competing with more than 280 young jazzmusicians from all over the world. In addition, I got to take masterclasses with Bobby McFerrin and Elvin Jones, and play with many great musicians from all over the world like Yotam Silberstein from Israel (now New York-based) and the great bass player Fabrizio Bruzzone from Ventimiglia in Italy. This contact then led to another great meeting with the Genoa-based violin player Roberto Izzo in Italy, and a new band was formed: All Strings Trio. We played in various festivals, clubs and venues outdoor and indoor in Norway, France and Italy from 2004-2008, and this proved very useful in my progress and live experience as a jazz guitarist. Me and Fabrizio also went to New York together for a studying trip taking lessons, going to concerts as well as taking lessons. I studied there in 2005 with Adam Rogers who I had transcribed and learnt a lot from when I studied jazz guitar in the conservatory, and knowing he was also a great classical guitar player I also asked him about techniques how to play with your fingers instead of with a pick. He advised me to play the Violin Sonatas by Bach and I immediately ran to the nearest shop to buy the sheet music for that amazing music by J.S. Bach.

 

In 2006 discovered Nelson Veras, and after hearing him play nylon guitar I soon realised I had to throw my pick in the garbage and start playing with my fingers and nails when improvising. I realized that sometimes, in order to be able to take 5 steps ahead you have to take 2 steps back. We finally recorded our debut-cd Norchestra in 2007 after doing our debut concert at Cosmopolite in Oslo. After the studio session I immediately threw the pick in the garbage and starter to grow nails. I had realised the best I could do as a pianist and acoustic guitarist with a pick, and was now ready to go on to the next step, playing with fingers and nails only.

 

Luckily since I was studying also pedagogic theory at NTNU, Institutt for Musikk at that time I could also take lessons with Jarl Strømdal, classical guitar teacher at the conservatory in Trondheim. This proved useful for me to get experience with how to polish nails, which shape to grow them and how to produce the acoustic sound on the instrument with a combination of fingertip and nail to get the best and most polished sound possible. I then started to study the Violin Sonatas for Classical guitar seriously.

 

I still wasn't very satisfied with my progress even though adapting to nails and fingers went rather quickly. I was always annoyed with the limitations of the guitar. Being a pianist for many years and still at that time I realised that I couldn't live with those compromising limitations to range that the guitar offered. I then started to search and explore other guitar players trying to overcome those limitations, and actually it was on a chat part of 8-string electric guitar player Charlie Hunter I discovered the player who changed my life and future for ever: Paul Galbraith. I discovered that this Scottish guitar genius had invented an 8-string guitar that expanded the range of the guitar in both directions together with the renowned and acknowledged luthier David Rubio. It was named "the Brahms guitar" since it was ordered for Galbraith to be able to play a 16-minute piece by Johannes Brahms. I quickly searched some of Galbraith's recordings and when listening to "French Impressions" I was blown away. I had never heard so complex and rich music played on a guitar before. This really made an enormous impact on me, and in 2009 I decided to try an instrument like this. I was sceptical about the fanned frets and playing it in a cello position like Galbraith did, but I decided to try it for myself to see if it could work in a normal guitar position. I went to a student of David Rubio, Martin Woodhouse that let me try one of his hand-built Brahms guitars. This worked wonders, I loved the instrument immediately from the first notes that I played on it. I really felt it was created for me, and it was very easy to play. Later that year I ordered the guitar from Martin Woodhouse in Cambridge and he built me my first Brahms guitar an excellent piece of art with great sound and beautiful looks. When I picked it up in February 2010 I was so to speak in the 7th heaven as we say in Norwegian!

 

Two weeks later I got to know that Sildajazz had got a grant from Norwegian Art's Council to realise my biggest musical dream-project: To compose music for my trio Norchestra and Gnu Quartet from Italy. During a tour in Sardinia in 2007 cello player Stefano Cabrera had been a substitute for the bass player in All Strings Trio that couldn't attend. This tour with several concerts proved to be a really rewarding musical experience for us, where we found that we shared many of the same musical philosophies regarding space, creativity, spontaneous interplay as well as good sound. I also got to listen Stefano and Roberto's Gnu Quartet, a brand new string trio with flute that played amazing arrangements of classical jazz tunes as well as classic italian popular music, arranged in an extremely creative way by the ensemble's arranger and composer Stefano Cabrera. This led me to dream big and try to realise a magical meeting between my band Norchestra and Gnu Quartet.

 

Three years later in 2010, two weeks after I picked up my Brahms guitar I got to know that this dream was actually about to be true, and that the music had to be premiered at the festival Sildajazz in August, just 5 months later. With a new instrument in hand and a fantastic opportunity and occasion to realise new music I got an inspiration that I had never felt before in my life. New tunes and tunings began to pop out from my new 8-string guitar, and only 3 months later I had already composed a Suite of seven movements for Brahmsguitar, piano and strings that later was going to be named "Suite for the Seagulls". (As an homage to my hometown Haugesund, the town of the seagulls, located at the south-west coast in Norway). I sent these arrangements over to Stefano and Gnu Quartet, and they quickly together decided to arrange my compositions in the best possible way for Violin, Viola, Cello and Flute. We then met two times to rehearse in Genoa that summer. Three days before the premiere they came and we were privileged enough to have the concert house for our selves for 3 days before the premiere. The concert proved to be a big success, and we were awarded with awe from the public. The feeling during the concert for the musicians was ecstatic, after 6 months of hard work we finally got to enjoy a concert for a full crowd in the best possible way one could imagine!

 

Then only weeks later we finished the second studio recording of Norchestra at ABC Studio in Etne to be released in 2012. After playing and performing at the Italian Guitar Festival "Paesaggi Acustici" I got really inspired from the same idea, and founded label Acoustic Landscapes with some of the same vision of uniting great acoustic instruments in beautiful landscapes. We first released the EP "Live in Tysvær" - with Norchestra to mark the ten year anniversary for Norchestra as a group. I was really happy with my progress as an improvising classical guitarist on an 8-string Brahms guitar, my then after the tour and release of our 2nd studio album in 2012 I started to feel that something was missing again, maybe not knowing what it was. I found that when playing intensively for many hours the 8-string guitar in a classical guitar position I could get pains in my back and arms, and I felt that physical barriers were limiting the enormous potential of my instrument. I then decided it was about time that I went to study with the inventor of the instrument, Paul Galbraith.

 

This proved again to be a wise decision for the next years. In summer 2012 I took 4 lessons with Galbraith over 3 days in Basel, Switzerland. I then finally decided another time to go 2 steps back to be able to go 5 steps ahead later, like I did 5 years before when throwing the pick in the garbage and starting from scratch with nails. Changing to a cello position changes everything, but luckily for the better I soon discovered. Of course in the beginning it is hard, because you cannot look so much with your eyes over the fretboard so you kind of have to trust your kinetic sense rather than the visual sight of the instrument when playing. It clearly helped me a lot the next years, and in 2013 I was ready to record my next adventure "Christmas Improvisations" my first record under my own name. This record got great reviews and feedback from media in Norway and from guitar fans all over the world, and featured my improvisations over everything from traditional Christmas Songs to Alf Prøysen, Joni Mitchell and J.S. Bach. I had in the meantime in 2013 started to study the great guitar Genious Lenny Breau, so my interpretation of "Chestnuts" was dedicated to the guitar genius Lenny Breau who actually was the first player to have a high A-string on his seven string electric and classical guitars. I feel quite sure that Lenny Breau would have loved the Brahms guitar, with easy high A string, as well as an extra bass-string. A pity that he couldn't live long enough to experience this amazing instrument. Anyway, Lenny Breau on an acoustic or electric 7-sevenstring guitar is still today some of the most creative and incredible guitar playing I have heard in my entire life, and studying his way to play, improvise lines and chords is some of the most rewarding studies I have ever done. I still work on his concepts every day more or less to this day. The tune "Chestnuts" from my debut record "Christmas Improvisations is my homage to Lenny Breau, and my way to saying "Thank You" to him for his amazing vision, creativity, skills and ambitions to overcome the limitations on the guitar.

 

Next year 2014 proved also to be a nice one, where Gnu Quartet and Norchestra finally made it to perform "Suite for the Seagulls" as well as recording it at ZeroDieci Studios in Gnu Quartet's hometown Genoa. Three days on stage and two days in the studio proved to be quite intense but luckily also this time, extremely rewarding. By the end of 2014 we had recorded the entire suite, and 2015 and 2016 would be the year where I produced the record, selected the very best parts, put them together, and finally mixed the seven movements in stereo and surround together with Sander Stedenfelt-Olsen at Syncpoint Studio in Trondheim. This was a particular rewarding research and creative project, exploring the amazing opportunities the 5.1 surround format gives. We experimented a lot with movements of sounds, different soundscapes, where to place the strings, drums, guitar and seagull screams in the surround field. By the end of 2015 I finally purchased an electric fanned fret 8-string guitar from Agile Guitars made by Rondo Music. The 24.75" length of the highest string manages high A with a 007. carbon string from D'addario, and this investment was really one of the best investments I've done musically. The ability to be able to practice quietly without disturbing others while doing other activities like f.ex. watching TV was great, and finally I could practice as much as I wanted with ease and comfort in each situation. Also the cello position never makes me tired, so that also helps increasing the overall playing time.

 

The exploration of surround and current development in the surround technology made me invest in a Keith McMillen K-Mix in the spring of 2016, since this little mixer actually works standalone in surround I started experimenting with ideas of doing concerts in surround with this little mixer and with my pedalboard to mix acoustic and electric sounds on my Brahms guitar. In the same time in spring I auditioned for master's degree at the Jazz Department at NTNU and at the same time a masters degree at the classical department at the UiA in Kristiansand where Rolf Lislevande teaches. To my great surprise I was accepted to both, and I thought for a long time that both these offer where so amazing that I couldn't live with refusing one of them, so I gladly accepted them both A decision I never have regret, the last year has shown to been the most fruitful in my development as a musician ever, having the opportunity to learn from Nils Olav Johansen and Sissel Vera Pettersen in NTNU and Rolf Lislevand, Per Kjetil Farstad and Robin Rolfhamre at UiA. In the Jazz Department in Trondheim my topic is doing solo concerts in Surround, mixing acoustic and electric sounds from my 8-string Brahms guitars. In UiA, at Kristiansand my subject is to perform the Violin Sonatas by J.S. Bach arranged for my tuning of the Brahms guitar, as well as improvising in Baroque style over many pieces from different composers from the Baroque era. So here I am, playing 8-string electric and acoustic guitars, still eager and motivated to overcome the limitations of the guitar as well as using my experience and knowledge as a pianist to expand and improve my improvisational reach as a performer, composer and improvisator.

 

 

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