Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival and Lofoten Piano Festival

Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival and Lofoten Piano Festival are both classical music festivals, held biyearly in Lofoten. Every summer, several concerts with varied programs are performed. Several of the world’s leading artists have visited the festival and helped create magic in Lofoten’s churches, cultural houses, cafes and galleries.

Intimate concerts

In the absence of large concert halls in Lofoten, the festivals are characterized by being more intimate than most people experience during major festivals in Europe. Even in the churches it can get crowded, and the audience and musicians have to collaborate around the stage. It allows the audience to get closer to the music being performed. We also experience a loyal audience every year at our concerts. This means that even foreign visitors are recognized at the doors before the concerts. This brings an extra atmosphere out of the ordinary.

Magical surroundings

With concerts spread all over Lofoten, the festivals are a unique way to experience Lofoten as well. Several concerts are organized every day, on different locations. The audience comments that the journey between the concerts is an important part of the experience as a festival audience in Lofoten. By being represented in large parts of Lofoten, the festivals have also established a good home audience. In addition to attracting local audiences, the festivals have a local commitment which is of great help to the festival.

Midnight sun at Gimsøy (photo: Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival)
View from Matmora, Laukvik (photo: Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival)


Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival

With the initiators Knut Kirkesæther (general manager) and Arvid Engegård (artistic director) at the forefront, the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival was first conducted in 2004. In 2005, the festival was organized as a foundation with Kirkesæther, Engegård and Vågan Municipality as founders. The festival is still run with Kirkesæther as general manager and Engegård as artistic director.

Varied program with international artists

Since its start in 2004, the festival has aimed to bring a varied classical program – performed by international high-level artists – to a wide area of Lofoten. Over the years, Lofoten’s six municipalities, all churches, concert and cultural centers, various galleries and other arenas have been used to fulfill the purpose. The list of artists who have participated in the festival is also growing – both nationally and internationally. The Norwegian pianist Leiv Ove Andsnes and violinist Arve Tellefsen have visited the festival several times.

The festival is held in the second week of July with approx. 15-20 international musicians on the program, divided into approx. 15-20 concerts. There are 2-3 concerts every day at different locations. The Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival and the Lofoten Piano Festival are held biyearly.

With Lofoten as location, the festival have become attractive for both local audience and enthusiasts. At the same time, the festival has made its mark internationally, attracting audiences and enthusiasts from all over the world. Several media have also taken interest and written about the festival’s special character. Several comment on the festival as a perfect way to combine both world-class classical music and one of the world’s most beautiful destinations.


Quatuor Danel string quartet plays in Lofoten Kulturhus 2017 (photo: Tom Helstad/Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival)
Engegård String Quartet plays concert in Lofoten Kulturhus 2017 (photo: Tom Helstad/Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival)

Lofoten Piano Festival

The Lofoten Piano Festival was first arranged in 2014. The festival has the same purpose as the chamber edition, but has the piano in focus. The chamber and piano edition is arranged biyearly.

High density of concert pianos

The piano festival saw its light due to the high density of concert pianos in Lofoten. This density is a direct result of needs created by the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival. After the first concert piano came into place, more and more venues saw the benefit of offering such pianos to their artists and audience. Several of Lofoten’s churches have therefore invested in their own instruments. Lofoten Kulturhus (Svolvær) and Meieriet Kultursenter (Leknes) also have their own concert piano in their concert halls.

Today, there are a total of 9 full concert pianos available to the general public in Lofoten, all of the Steinway & Son brand. These are instruments that most professional pianists are used to, and which are of the same quality as the largest and most famous concert arenas in the world. Several have commented that with their approx. 25,000 inhabitants of Lofoten, this is perhaps the world’s highest density of concert pianos.

Norway’s first piano festival

Based on the density of concert pianos came the first thoughts about a exclusive piano festival, not least since Norway did not have a festival of its own with this profile. As a variation of the chamber music edition, the piano festival has in a short time gained great recognition as a separate festival, also internationally. Ahead of the Lofoten Piano Festival 2018, the English magazine Pianist ranked the festival number three in Europe, above several major prestigious festivals.

Unlike the chamber music edition, the artistic director varies. The first two years were under the artistic direction of pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. In 2018, the festival was led by pianist Bertrand Chamayou. The artistic director of the Lofoten Piano Festival 2020 is Christian Ihle Hadland.


Artistic director Arvid Engegård during concert in Lofoten Kulturhus 2017 (photo: Tom Helstad/Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival)
Knut Erik Sundquist during concert in Lofoten Kulturhus 2017 (photo: Tom Helstad/Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival)

Kunstneriske ledere

Arvid Engegård

Arvid Engegård, Lofoten Internasjonale Kammermusikkfest

Arvid Engegård is artistic director of the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival. He comes from Bodø, but lives in Oslo today. He is educated in Trondheim, New York and Salzburg, where he had the legendary Sandor Vegh as a teacher.

He has throughout his life had a special interest in chamber music, and was for 10 years primarius for the Orlando quartet in Holland.

During the festival’s first edition in 2004, he met musicians he immediately established in a new quartet, the Engegård Quartet. The quartet enjoys international recognition and is sought after throughout the Nordic region.

The quartet has since the establishment been the closest you can call a “houseband” to the festival, and is always central to the program. Through the establishment of the Oslo Quartet Series, the Engegård Quartet has contributed to string quartet as an type of ensemble.

Today, Engegård is also a widely used conductor, where he is often given assignments within the Viennese classical repertoire, a repertoire he knows better than anyone else in Norway.

Christian Ihle Hadland

Christian Ihle Hadland, Lofoten Pianofestival 2020

Den norske pianisten Christian Ihle Hadland slo for alvor gjennom da han i 2011 ble valgt til BBC sin satsning BBC New Generation Artist. I denne rollen spilte han med alle de fem symfoniorkestrene som hører hjemme i BBC. Hans siste oppdrag i denne sammenhengen var å spille Beethovens andre pianokonsert med Oslofilharmonien under The Proms, verdens største musikkfestival i regi av nettopp BBC, der alle konserter overføres direkte på radio.

Hans konsertdebut kom med Kringkastingsorkesteret da han var 15, og han har i løpet av karrieren spilt med alle norske og de fleste nordiske orkestre.

For ulike innspillinger har han fått to Spelemannspriser og vært nominert til en annen.

Han har ved flere anledninger besøkt Lofoten Internasjonale Kammermusikkfest, blant annet under vår første utgave av pianofestivalen i 2016 og allerede året etter i kammerutgaven.

Han har siden 2010 vært kunstnerisk leder for kammerfestivalen i sin hjemby Stavanger.