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Industry Insider: Mari Silje and Håkon Samuelsen

By Tomas Lauvland Pettersen Posted: 28. May, 2015

After having shot to number one on the domestic sales charts, violin-cello siblings Mari Silje and Håkon Samuelsen are poised for the international launch of their celebrated new outing ‘Pas de Deux’.

The two have managed a feat not matched for over two decades: to reach number one on Norway’s official sales charts with a classical music album.

The album in question is ‘Pas de deux’ – a double concerto penned by Oscar-winning composer James Horner (Titanic, Avatar and Braveheart). The highly melodic album, which also features works by Arvo Pärt, Giovanni Sollima and Ludovico Einaudi, was recorded with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under the leadership of conductor Vasily Petrenko and is now set for an international release through Universal.

Mari Silje and Håkon Samuelsen rehearsing with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra (photo: Emile Ashley)

Classical chart-topper

We reached the two earlier this week, as they were busy preparing for the international release of ‘Pas de Deux’.

– The last couple of weeks have been really hectic, say Mari Silje and Håkon Samuelsen. – Reaching number one on the Norwegian charts is truly fantastic, nothing short of a dream come true, really. This is the result of a lot of work done over a long period – being greeted with the amazing audience feedback over the last weeks is then utterly rewarding.

– Being the first classical chart-topper in two decades is nothing short of surreal. The number one represents a culmination of a year-long dream and a long process of working with James Horner that started years ago. For us it is overwhelming realizing that we’ve achieved one of our main goals: to reach out to a wider audience beyond the traditional classical music crowd.

James Horner shares the Samuelsens pride over ‘Pas de Deux’. In a statement issued this week the composer relates: – I am thrilled and delighted that Pas de Deux has been so warmly received. I am also very honoured to be associated with Mari and Hakon Samuelsen’s marvellous, magical performance of the piece. This is really a dream come true for me!

James Horner with Mari Silje and Håkon Samuelsen at the May 2015 Stavanger press-launch for 'Pas de Deux' (photo: Universal Norway)

Gearing up for an international release

‘Pas de Deux’ saw its official international release this week through Universal. The two are gearing up for what will be busy and pretty exciting times:

– It will be thrilling to see how the album is received internationally, Mari Silje and Håkon relates. – A number one on the national sales charts is the perfect item to carry in our luggage as we are now transitioning into an international campaign for the album. This is definitely storytelling at its best with everything happening at warp speed over the last weeks.

A string of strong reviews in the domestic press is now set to be followed by international ones the two hope. ‘Pas de Deux’ Nordic premiere took place in Stavanger earlier in May, featuring James Horner conducting the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. The enthusiastic local audience was bolstered by a carefully selected international delegation:

– For the Nordic premiere in Stavanger, we managed to bring in a strong international press delegation. The journalists were able to take in the spectacular nature surrounding Stavanger, the city’s fantastic concert hall and its amazing orchestra. Hopefully, the first reviews of the concert and the album will begin to trickle in as ‘Pas de Deux’ is now launched internationally in late May. The nature around Stavanger served as the perfect backdrop for an event such as this – a spectacular frame for a Nordic launch that really gets your imagination going.

– Working with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra was a tremendous experience, the two conclude. – Stavanger’s concert hall must be Norway’s grandest and with acoustics to match as well as an orchestra ranks among the very best – definitely a perfect launch pad for ‘Pas de Deux’.

James Horner conducting the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra during rehearsals for the Nordic premiere of 'Pas de Deux' (photo: Emile Ashley)

A top 3 UMG priority

With the album’s domestic success secured, the two now reveal that UMG has given ‘Pas de Deux’ a high international priority: – The album is now a top priority in the Universal system; ‘Pas de Deux’ is among UMG’s Top 3 priorities across its classical music platforms including Deutsche Grammofon and Mercury Classics.

It also appears as the album’s flying start has generated plenty of buzz throughout the UMG system:

– The UMG staff are super excited about the release, say Mari Silje and Håkon. – In March, we joined the UMG global conference where people were really positive about ‘Pas de Deux’ and the mood has just skyrocketed from there. There’s a truly a great spirit within the UMG system right now, with lots of people working hard on the global launch of the album.

In addition to shooting a wide range of promotional videos that are now being distributed to multiple territories globally, the two will also do selected live appearances in Europe:

– We are confirmed to do a promo concert at the next Yellow Lounge event in Amsterdam. We have also just confirmed that we’re scheduled to perform at the Barbican in London in late Oct/early Nov this year, and we’ll also return to the UK in April 2016 to play Royal Albert Hall. Next year also sees us touring Spain and Croatia.

www.samuelsenmusic.com

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