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Ketil Bjørnstad previously explored the life of Edvard Munch in his acclaimed 1993 novel Historien om Edvard Munch. When invited to compose music for choir in 2011 his thoughts turned once again to Munch and to the writings, still not widely known, of the proto-Expressionist Norwegian painter. With these as his guide, Bjørnstad shaped Soloppgang (“Sunrise”) subtitled “A cantata on texts by Edvard Munch”. In his liner notes, Bjørnstad observes that “the texts written by Munch can be compared to his paintings in their power and intensity. He wanted to be a writer as well as a painter... texts from different periods in Munch’s life have been used in Sunrise.
They all portray existentialist dilemmas: surviving or being destroyed, believing or observing.” The changing moods of the writings inspire very different musical settings. Sunrise was released first in Norway in November 2013 – in connection with the 150th anniversary of Munch’s birth – and met with a most positive critical reception.