Born in Oslo, Norway in 1977, Kornstad took up the clarinet in grammar school and eventually turned to the saxophone and studies at the Trondheim Jazz Conservatory
. He co-founded the group Wibutee,
soon to be signed by Bugge Wesseltoft’s
The first solo album was the critically acclaimed Single Engine (2007). This established him a leading jazz musician in Norway. The second solo album, Dwell Time (Jazzland 2009), was recorded by the legendary Jan Erik Kongshaug. Downbeat Magazine dubbed Kornstad “one of Norway’s most original and daring musicians.”
On a visit to New York in 2009, he discovered opera and decided to take singing lessons. He applied to The Norwegian Academy of Opera, where he completed his master studies as operatic tenor in May 2014!
Blending opera and jazz, the Kornstad Ensemble featured harmonium and harpsichord in addition to a rhythm section. Spencer Grady in Jazzwise wrote: “Håkon Kornstad and his Tenor Battle troupe have fashioned a triumphant Bartók-reversal, the successful contextualising of high-end tropes into the folk firmament.”