English: About Josefine Visescene

15 april 2010

UK-flaggJosefine Visescene is the most important musical scene for lyrical songs in Norway. The word «vise» in «visescene» in norwegian today means a song where the music and the lyrics are of equal importance, with accompaniment of any musical style, although the base often is «a man and his guitar».

At this place there has been «vise»-concerts every wednesday in 15 years, except during the summer vacation and around Christmas. Our base is a place called «Josefine Vertshus» and it is situated in Josefinegate 16 in Homansbyen, in the western part of Oslo town. For people who know Poland it resembles «Piwnica pod Baranami» in Krakow. The premises are intimate and cosy and bear evidence of lots of song and music through the years. There is a bar and nice meals here.

Both the public and artists of different kind love the place and think it has an inspiring and special atmosphere. Vocalists and instrumentalists consider it an honour to be asked to perform here, they extol the public who is competent and shuts their mouth when something is going on on the stage. These dear audiences have an open attitude to traditional singalong, well-known classics, first performances, presentations of new projects and different experiments. The artists can also expect constructive criticism and praise from the audience. It has become a skilled forum for the trade of lyrical singing as many artists have pointed out.

The place is run by Kari Svendsen, Lars Klevstrand and Jørn Simen Øverli who is the whole board and perform almost all the jobs. The latter is the founder and the director.  All the three of them are well-known artists in Norway and has made a living from singing lyrical songs for decades and know this side of Norway by heart. They have also many connections and friends in Sweden.  This is the reason they often present, before any other scenes, new artists and groups who becomes stars later on, and helps them on the way. The three-headed board often suggests projects for other artists and combine like-minded musicians and singers. In november every year there is a concert with songs  booked from six different known and unknown artists, the lyrics preferably in norwegian ( – so many other scenes mainly present anglo-american songs in Norway these days.)  There are several artists in Norway today who have started to write songs in norwegian after having had this experience.

This three-headed board also takes initiatives for tours for different artists and cooperates with Concerts Norway from time to time. In periods there are series of TV-and radioprograms from Josefine Visescene.


The photos below show  The Akselsen Family in concert at Josefine Visescene, March 2010.
Familien AkselsenThis is a family of «Romani», a  tribe that came to Norway many hundred years ago from northern India. They are «ethnical cousins»  of the gypsies, and have their own language called romani.  Another name for them is «travellers», as they always have been traveling around, chased by the authorities who suppressed them hard in Norway.  Their children and horses where taken away from them up till the 1970s.  The father of the family, Elias, has a fantastic voice and spellbinds everybody singing his  romani songs  in swedish/norwegian about suffering and hardships and faith, longing for «peace in God» with a seriousness so it is impossible not to cry, even for sophisticated intellectuals.  He had his first concert with these songs for regular norwegians – outside the open air campfires with his own people where he was taught these songs – at Josefine’s in 2000.  The scales in his songs are, at their best,  without european influence but stems from middle Asia, like his tribe. Now he is a household name in Norway and through his songs he  alone has given the romanies  a big upheavel in status, has met the King and has been given numerous of  acknowledging prizes.


konertbildeJosefine Visescene is proud to have been an agent in this process.  At this concert he had two of his children with him.  These three have fantastic voices and are the best singers in this tradition in Norway today.  The accordionist is Frode Haltli, who plays everything from complicated experimental contemporary music till plain folk songs with the same concentration, one of the fantastic musician friends of Josefine.