In a seaside city that serves as the gateway to the Norwegian Fjords, a vibrant 15-day multi-arts festival opens in Grieghallen, the massive exhibition center that is also the concert hall home of the Bergen Philharmonic. (Grieg himself was the orchestra’s music director from 1880-1882.) This year’s festival is available to a worldwide audience online. The festival packs dozens of events across 15 days, detailed here: https://www.fib.no/en/programme/
Although a number of events were cancelled or moved to future festival seasons, highlights of the vigorous opening week include:
May 27: A revolutionary evening with the American composer Frederic Rzewski. Pianist Christian Ihle Hadland will play Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated, which consists of 36 variations of the Chilean song El pueblo unido jamás será vencido! by Sergio Ortega and Quilapayún. (For more on this iconic piece, which became a symbol of the people’s opposition to the Pinochet regime in Chile, see Richard Ginell’s CVNA review.)
May 28: Norwegian classical pianist Håvard Gimse offers a rich array of works by Norwegian, Finnish and Lithuanian composers including Harald Sæverud’s mighty Ballad of Revolt (Kjempeviseslåtten), written during the Nazi occupation of Norway, and music of Alf Hurum, Armas Järnefelt, and Mikalojus Čiurlionis.
May 29: The young female Irish conductor and composer Eímear Noone, who is known for her work in film and gaming music, with titles such as World of Warcraft and The Legend of Zelda on her resumé, will perform music from several of the world’s most popular games while Grieghallen is bathed in video by video projection artist Philipp Geist. On the podium with Noone will be young conductor talents of Norway who participated in a talent development program with Noone throughout the spring.
A number of events have been cancelled or moved to coming years, including a visit by the Vienna Philharmonic, a commissioned work by the American artist Taylor Mac and a world premiere by festival composer Missy Mazzoli , the festival offers a rich introduction to the Scandinavian arts.