Martin Wåhlberg is founder and music director of the Norwegian orchestra Orkester Nord and its associated vocal ensemble, Vox Nidrosiensis, based in Trondheim, Norway. His projects often propose innovative programming and inspiring approaches. The combination of historical imagination and exploration of orchestral sound has led to a series of pioneering undertakings.
By creating Orkester Nord in Trondheim, in the North of Norway in 2018, at the outpost of Europe, he gathers a new generation of musicians to explore and interrogate the repertoire of classical music across musical and historical boundaries. Works from different ages are scrutinized with the same intensity and attention, with the same scrupulousness and thoroughness. In a short time, and despite the recent pandemic appearing shortly after the launch of the orchestra, Orkester Nord has rapidly gained significant acclaim.
Wåhlberg’s recordings with Orkester Nord on the label Aparté have received numerous distinctions. Their first CD, of the opera “Raoul Barbe Bleue” by late eighteenth-century French composer Grétry, has been widely praised by critics. As one of them wrote, “This Bluebeard is one of the most intriguing and fresh-sounding recordings ever made of a late-18th century opera. I’d put it up there with Carlo Maria Giulini’s famous 1959 recording of Don Giovanni as a near-perfect realization of a work from that era.” Other critics write: “This is the first opera recording from conductor Martin Wåhlberg. After this furious debut, one can only hope that it will not be the last”; “What he here gets out of the orchestra and the singers, in his first opera recording, is of the finest. One should notice the name, for it shines.” Their second release with Orkester Nord, this time with earlier, seventeenth-century music, has been equally well received.
Since 2018, Martin Wåhlberg, Orkester Nord and Vox Nidrosiensis have appeared at prestigious concert halls and on festival stages throughout Europe, in spite of a number of planned productions being cancelled due to the pandemic.
Passionate about culture and the arts and the need to transmit the richness of musical heritage in ways that reach out to the generations of today, Martin Wåhlberg is also behind numerous Orkester Nord initiatives to share the experience of classical music with new audiences. The web series Orpheus Uncut is a particularly telling example, gaining audience and media interest across the globe and reaching out to millions of listeners.
Martin Wåhlberg’s entrepreneurial spirit translates into an intense engagement in pedagogical activity linked to Orkester Nord, notably through the foundation of the Orkester Nord Academy training scheme for young musicians in the Nordic countries and the Nordic Baroque Orchestra, each year attracting some of the foremost young musicians on a European scale.
Wåhlberg engages continuously in outreach activities, sharing his interest in music and its significance and connection to literature and the arts through books, essays, outreach lectures and talks.
He is director of the Barokkfest early music festival.
As a cellist, Martin Wåhlberg has appeared with a number of chamber groups and ensembles in Norway and abroad. He studied at the Conservatoire Supérieure de Paris-CNR and at the Sorbonne in Paris and had the chance to work with some of the greatest conductors, singers, musicians, thinkers and historians of our time.