Norwegian violinist Ragnhild Hemsing has a unique background that encompasses both classical violin training and the folk traditions of her native Norway. She has performed and recorded folk-oriented material as well as classical concert music, and she plays the difficult Hardanger fiddle, a Norwegian folk instrument with several sympathetic strings, as well as the classical violin.
Hemsing was born on February 15, 1988, in Valdres, in a mountainous region of Norway noted for the presence of strong folk traditions. Her younger sister Eldbjørg Hemsing is also a violinist. Hemsing took up the violin at age five. She studied at the Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo, one of Norway's top music schools, and by 14 she had given her concert debut, playing Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and soon after that with the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra. Between 2003 and 2006 she won several major prizes, two of them Europe-wide. As a teen she performed with Norway's major orchestras, and a connection with conductor Neeme Järvi, who has been active in Bergen, helped her broaden her reputation beyond Norway: she was invited to perform with Järvi conducting the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and, in 2011, recorded Johan Halvorsen's Fossegrimen Suite on a Järvi album of that composer's orchestral works. She continued her studies with Boris Kuschnir in Vienna.
Hemsing made her solo recording debut that same year with YR, an album that contained Norwegian traditional music as well as a sonata by Edvard Grieg. The title referred to a work by Norwegian composer Lasse Thoresen; that work has also become a Hemsing specialty that she has performed in a choreographic setting by Hallgrim Hansegård. In 2011 Hemsing also recorded the folk album Varde, which also featured Eldbjørg Hemsing and the folk ensemble Kvarts. The two sisters collaborated on music for a one-hour television documentary about the life of star 19th century Norwegian violinist Ole Bull. Hemsing was signed to Norway's 2L label, a natural home for her in that the label has specialized in recordings that fuse classical and folk influences. She released her first album for 2L, Northern Timbre, in 2017; it featured works by Grieg, Sibelius, and Nielsen.