Bio – formal (English)

Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje, composer and performer (born Dec. 29th 1973 in Trondheim, Norway), finished composition studies at the Norwegian State Academy of Music in Oslo in 2000. Her music is performed worldwide by performers such as Ensemble Intercontemporain, Klangforum Wien, Oslo Sinfonietta, The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, SWR Symphonieorchester, Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Fretwork, Cikada, Mivos and Bozzini string quartets, Quatuor Renoir, Engegård Quartet, Red Note Ensemble, Andreas Borregaard, Stephen Menotti, Marianne Beate Kielland, SPUNK, Frode Haltli, POING and many more. Portrait concerts with her music has been heard in Toronto and Vienna, she has been composer in residence at festivals like Other Minds in San Francisco, Trondheim Chamber Music Festival, Nordland Music Festival in Bodø, Avanti! Summer Festival in Finland, Båstad Chamber Music Festival and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.

Ratkje has received awards such as the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris for composers below 30 years of age, the Norwegian Edvard prize (work of the year) twice, Scottish Award for New Music for Aeolian, second prize at the Russolo Foundation, and in 2001 she was the first composer ever to receive the Norwegian Arne Nordheim prize. Her solo album Voice got a Distinction Award at Prix Ars Electronica in 2003. In 2013 she was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize for her vocal work. She was in 2017 accepted as a member of Akademie der Künste, Berlin. In 2020 she got the Liv Ullmann Prize and the Buddy Award and her work “Sirkling” was awarded ‘work of the year’ by the union of Music Publishers in Norway. In 2021 Ratkje received an Honorary Mention for her solo work at the Giga-Hertz Awards, and she got Lindeman Prize in Norway.

Ratkje is active as a singer/voice user and electronics performer and engineer, as a soloist or in groups such as SPUNK and Avant Joik. She has been soloist with orchestras such as The Norwegian Radio Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Klangforum Wien, Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, Trondheim Symphony Orchestra and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Other collaborations include Stian Westerhus, Jaap Blonk, Joëlle Léandre, Ikue Mori, Zeena Parkins, Stephen O’Malley, Lasse Marhaug, Agrare, POING and many more. Ratkje has performed her own music for films, dance and theatre, installations, and numerous other projects. Visual art or text material is often a part of her own work, in installations or staged works. She has made large gallery works with SPUNK, she has made music for a radio play by Elfriede Jelinek, and in 2003, she played a part in her own opera, based on the texts from the Nag Hammadi Library.

Her scores are found at Edition Wilhelm Hansen/Music Sales and the National Library of Norway’s publishing service, NB noter, and her records are released on Tzadik, Rune Grammofon, 2L, ECM, Important Records and many other labels. Her homepage may be visited at

A remarkable and unique voice, who to an unprecedented level has united audiences and critics alike from all genres of experimental music – contemporary classical, improvisation, electronic and noise!
-Graham McKenzie, Artistic Director, Huddersfield Conteporary Music Festival

Scroll to Top