Alumna Profile: Grammy-Winner Alison Bjorkedal

Grammy-winning UO alumna Alison Bjorkedal
 
May 19, 2015—SOMD alumna Alison Bjorkedal (BMus ‘03), along with her colleagues in the Los Angeles-based new music Partch Ensemble, was awarded Best Classical Compendium at the 57th annual Grammy Awards on February 8, 2015.
 
Bjorkedal plays the kithara, a harp-like ancient Greek instrument, in the ensemble.
 
This might be Bjorkedal’s first time on the red carpet, but not her first taste of the limelight. She accompanied singer Andrea Bocelli in the PBS special David Foster and Andrea Bocelli's My Christmas and appeared on The Tonight Show for hip hop artist Salaam Remi.
 
Bjorkedal teaches as Pasadena City College and maintains a private harp studio. She has performed with numerous symphony and chamber orchestras, and is a member of Southwest Chamber Music, the Golden State Pops Orchestra, and MUSE/IQUE. 
 
Her University of Oregon music education provided not only a great curriculum, Bjorkedal explains, but copious opportunities to grow as a musician and student. At the UO she studied harp under Sally Maxwell and Laura Zaerr.
 
“My UO professors placed a huge emphasis on mentorship, which made me feel valued and invested in,” Alison says.
 
Bjorkedal graduated from the UO magna cum laude, then completed both her master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.
 
Partch Ensemble specializes in the music and instruments of maverick American composer Harry Partch (1901-74), who wrote specifically for an extraordinary orchestra of instruments that he designed and built himself. 
 
Rather than working with the standard twelve-note scale, Partch’s pieces are written with 43, allowing an array of sounds that provide a greater opportunity for expression.
 
“Enthusiasm is contagious,” Bjorkedal says. “When you approach opportunities with an open mind and a willingness to grow, you’ll be surprised how many people come alongside to ensure you succeed.”
 
--Victoria Schmidt