Steinway no. 10 to Lofoten – in Svolvær Church

Last week a press release was sent in connection with our purchase of a new grand piano to Svolvær Church. Read about the purchase in the local press:

Våganavisen 26.11.19 (subscriber)
Lofotposten 27.11.19 (subscriber)

The board of Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival recently decided to purchase a concert grand piano of the type Steinway & Sons Model D. This will be the 10th in a row since 2007. The instrument is placed in Svolvær Church.
– It is very good that we finally get a world-class concert grand piano in Svolvær Church as well, says a proud Knut Kirkesæther (general manager).

With the grand piano in Svolvær church, there are now as many as 10 Steinway & Sons concert pianos in Lofoten’s churches and cultural halls. It is a situation that is unique and has been noticed also by Steinway’s management in Hamburg.

– The piano situation in Lofoten is incomprehensible. I jokingly called it black magic. It is a luxury during our festival to not carry around instruments as much as before, and we are totally dependent on instruments at this level to perform our concerts. Svolvær Church is one of the best venues acoustically, and we have missed  to be able to have more concerts there, says a happy general manager.

An instrument of the highest quality

Steinway & Sons has become an industry standard when it comes to concert pianos. They are permanent fixtures in most major concert halls around the world. This also makes most pianists prefer to play on just these instruments. They know what what they get, as long as they are well maintained. Svolvær Church receives the largest version from Steinway & Sons, a Model D. With its 274 cm, the instrument has the power and fullness to fill large concert halls, and is therefore perfect in a church like the one in Svolvær.

In the video below, pianist Christian Ihle Hadland tests the new grand piano in Oslo. As artistic director of the Lofoten Piano Festival 2020, he looks forward to perform the Goldberg variations again during this summer’s festival.

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Originally from 1970, the instrument has undergone a complete renovation. Although the instrument appears new, it is significantly reduced in price. Still, there are several pianists who like the slightly older instruments better, and this period is considered the golden age of Steinway & Sons.

– It was then even allowed with ivory on the keys, which is far better than today’s plastic. This also applies to several of the instruments we now have in Lofoten that we get very good feedback on every summer” says Kirkesæther.

The second grand piano owned by the festival

The grand piano in Svolvær Church will be the second in the series owned by the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival. Previously, the festival owns a similar concert grand piano in Henningsvær Church, which was purchased in 2017. This too is an older model (from 1890) that has been renovated from the inside to the outside. The other concert piano’s in Lofoten are owned by the premises in which they are located.

– The most important thing for us has been to get more instruments to Lofoten. The investment in grand piano’s is primarily a result of a huge commitment in the region. The vast majority of funds are results of collections. Although we have also contributed a little financially to several of these projects, it is extra good for us to own instruments ourselves. For us, this is a good investment for the festival, but also a great way to give something back to the region and everyone who has stood for us since its inception, ”says Kirkesæther.

Hoping for even more classical music in Svolvær Church

Throughout its 15 years, Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival has performed only a few concerts in Svolvær Church. In the future, the church will be a regular part of the festival’s main program. But the concert grand piano is available to the municipality’s music scene year-round.

– As perhaps one of the best concert churches in Lofoten, we hope the grand piano can contribute to more activity, also outside our festival, says Christian Winther Farstad, marketing and event manager at the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival.

The experience from the other instruments, is that they not only cover the festival’s needs, but also attract several other concerts, also for people outside Lofoten.

– It is not entirely coincidental that Leif Ove Andsnes chooses the grand piano in Buksnes Church when he arrives in January. He is very excited about this particular instrument that was purchased in 2018. Shortly after, pianist Joachim Carr also comes to Stamsund Church to record on the grand piano there. In addition, the instruments are frequently used by both local and regional musicians who hold small and large concerts, says Farstad.

The new grand piano will be ready in Svolvær Church already before Christmas. The festival’s permanent piano technician comes from Germany to Lofoten in January and adjusts the instrument in relation to it’s new location and climate.

– We must not forget that the church also receives a world-class instrument for worship, weddings and funerals. The only thing we need now is a new organ in Svolvær. When this is in place, Svolvær Church can really become a concert church of the very unique kind – not just for Lofoten, says Farstad with a smile.

New piano in Valberg Church

New piano in Valberg Kirke.

One year after the fundraising campaign began, the shiny new piano in Valberg Church is finally here.

It was not the NOK 150 000 fundraising that lasted for almost a year. It was the order itself that took a long time. The church decided early to not get a traditional black painted piano since it would dominate the room to much. Instead they ordered a mahogany red instrument to better match the colors of the church, which is somewhat uniwue and not normally available in stores. The piano were specially orderes from Japan, and have now found its way to Lofoten.

The piano will be in use from day one, but official inauguration will take place on Thursday 31 January in collaboration with the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival. The program for the dedication is broadly composed by local musicians and choirs, but also the young Norwegian pianist Joachim Carr plays. He has participated in both the piano edition and the chamber edition, and has the same week recordings in Stamsund church.

The recording is in relation with Leif Ove Andsnes’s Concert at Buksnes Church on Sunday, January 26. Leif Ove rarely plays without the festival’s permanent “piano doctor” Thomas Hübsch from Berlin preparing the grand piano. He takes care of the grand piano in Stamsund during the recording. And of course: when such a capacity is in Lofoten, it also gives Valberg Church the opportunity to have the instrument ready and adjusted before the dedication.

We congratulate Valberg Church with a beautiful piano, and we love to continue with concerts in this beautiful and evocative church.

Lofoten Chamber Music Festival 2019

At the same time as the Lofoten Piano Festival 2020 is being planned, we look back excitedly at this summer’s chamber music festival. Although the programming of the festivals is somewhat different, we use the experience between them for what we can. In addition, we receive lot’s of valuable feedback from our audience, artists and other stakeholders which are of great help. This makes it even more inspiring to create a new festival in 2020.

15 years in Lofoten

Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival 2019 was not just a festival, but also a celebration of our 15 years in Lofoten. We celebrated this a little extra. In addition to the official opening by H.M. Queen Sonja, the concert program was perhaps the best we have ever had. It had breadth, depth and variety that created a week of many temptations for many. With international artists from the top shelf, everything was delivered with high quality.

After 15 years the festival has gradually grown. Never before have we had such a good response on the tickets that were released already in January. We also set a new record for the sale of festival passes that were released before Christmas.

In addition to the main program, we had several side events. In particular, pianist Wolfgang Plagge received attention with his musical lectures. Although we have had lectures in the past, this was a new framework for both music and theme.

Concert in the midnight sun

Among other events, the string quartet Sonoro held several smaller concerts at cafes, restaurants, shopping malls, galleries and museums in Lofoten. The quartet consists of four girls aged 17 and 18 from Oslo. With the string quartet Sonoro we had a highlight in the midnight sun at Hov Gjestegård on Gimsøy.

The Sonoro string quartet perform live under the midnight sun at Hov, Gimsøy.

Popular dreaming concert

What was perhaps most daring, however, was the Dreaming Concert with Wolfgang Plagge on Thursday at 1100 pm. Here we encouraged the audience to bring their own sleeping mats, pillows and sleeping bags to enjoy the music on their own terms. Something similar has never been done during the festival before. Still, approx. 60 audience members shoed up to enjoy what became not just a concert, but an experience.

Big thanks to all the volunteers

Like previous years, we cannot thank our volunteers enough. The festival would not have been possible without all the volunteers involved throughout the festival week. In order to get started, carry out, and not least finish the festival there are a number of tasks that need to be solved. Some can be planned, but very many occur along the way. They work from morning to evening to make sure that artists, audiences, concert halls are all set to create the best experiences during the festival.

Lofoten Piano Festival 2020

We are looking forward to the Lofoten Piano Festival which opens on Monday 6th of July. Keep up to date on our Facebook page. We publish information on artists, programs and tickets on an ongoing basis. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Interview with Christian Ihle Hadland

The Lofoten Piano Festival will be held for the 4th time in 2020. Characteristic for the piano festival is that the artistic director is changed every time. In 2018 we were fortunate to have the French pianist Bertrand Chamayou as artistic director. For the Lofoten Piano Festival 2020 we have the pleasure of introducing the Norwegian pianist Christian Ihle Hadland as artistic director.

Christian Ihle Hadland, artistic director for Lofoten Pianofestival 2020.
You are engaged as artistic director for the Lofoten Piano Festival 2020. What does this assignment mean for you in practice?

– First and foremost it is to find and invite musicians, put together a program and decide on venues. I also have to adjust the workload to the musicians, a good combination of known and unknown repertoire. Then, I have to consider who is suitable for playing together and which works are suitable for which premises. And not least, that every concert program is neatly put together. There is simply a lot to think about.

Lofoten Piano Festival has received attention for its high artistic quality – also outside Norway. Mostly, this is because of top level international musicians. Accessing these requires a certain network. How did you build your own?

– When I graduated, no one talked about building networks. One were encouraged to stay in touch with good musicians and otherwise jump at the opportunities that came. This is how it is today, even though one may try to complicate it with just too many words.

Talking about musicians at this level it must be difficult to find the right ones. How do you pick out the artists for the festival?

– When it comes to finding pianists, it has always been most interesting for me to inquire with non-pianists about who they prefer. One thing is to deliver a stunning piano concert by Brahms with great sound and energy. Something else is to work as a chamber musician with others – although they can be phenomenal for this as well. Strings can often tell more about responsiveness, timbre and the ability to inspire – and this is exactly what one needs for a piano festival that is also a chamber music festival.

We know that some audience members come from afar, also to experience Lofoten. The fact that the festival is located in Lofoten, does this mean anything to the musicians?

– I think Lofoten is an extreme plus – everyone has heard about the place. Musicians also accept longer travel routes and long local distances as long as they get Lofoten into the bargain. Lofoten in July is probably more tempting than anything else, I must say.

How far have you come with the artists and the program?

– All the musicians are in place (knock on wood!). Now the program remains, but there I already have a solid plan. Much has fallen into place. The opening and final concerts are always the hardest! The musicians are largely able to announce their own wishes, while I sit with an authoritative hand on the steering wheel.

You are a pianist yourself, but you might get inspiration from other types of music as well?

– Besides classical music, the answer is “sometimes”. I like to hear some ’60s music occasionally, as well as having some “guilty pleasures” on YouTube that should be kept secret. But in classical music, I actually prefer to listen to something other than piano music. It probably has something to do with hearing and working so much with the sound of the piano itself. The need is simply saturated when I sit down and listen to other types of music. I especially listen to vocal music: songs, opera, church music. Especially the cantatas of Bach. But of course I listen to piano music too, I should not pretend otherwise. Especially Svjatoslav Richter (1915-1997). I never get enough of his sound!

Can you reveal something that you will be performing during the festival yourself?

– Not too many disclosures before the program launch! But the midnight sun calls for perhaps the most beautiful piano work written – the Goldberg variations by Johann Sebastian Bach – so we should probably find room for that.

This years final concert – what was played?

The final concert was also performed this year at Buksnes Church as a conclusion to the festival. With over 400 tickets sold, it was a worthy end to the festival week.

As usual, the program for the final concert is scheduled through the festival week. The last numbers are usually not decided until the same day as the concert itself. This contributes to some of the playfulness and spontaneity we want to create in the concert.

This year was also an extraordinary experience. Most of our musicians contributed in every way. Several solo pieces followed by one, two and three quartets together. This year the audience were also singing, which we received very good feedback on.

We have received several inquiries from dedicated audience members who want the program for the concert. Although this was announced along the way, it can be difficult to remember. The program from this year’s final concert can therefore be found below.

Norwegian folk tone: Bruremarsch from Beiarn – Arvid Engegård
Dvorak: Piano Quintet – Sonoro String Quartet and Georgy Tchaidze
Debussy: Poissons d’or – Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula
Piazzolla: Allegro Tangabile – Per Arne Glorvigen, Engegård Quartet and Georgy Tchaidze
Bach / Busoni: Kom, Gott Schöpfer / Nun kom der Heiden Heiland – Joachim Carr
Britten: Divertimento – Doric String Quartet
Tchaikovsky: from the Seasons – March: The Lark Song / August: The Harvest – Georgy Tchaidze
Sigmund Lillebjerka: Joik Suite – The Engegård Quartet
Bartok: String Quartet No. 4 – Engegård Quartet
Weber: Clarinet Quintet – Anton Dressler and Doric String Quartet
Mendelssohn: Octet – Engegård Quartet and Doric String Quartet
Strauss: Pizzicatopolka – Engegård Quartet, Doric String Quartet and Sonoro
Schubert: Der Toth und das Madchen – Johannes Held, Engegård Quartet, Doric String Quartet and Sonoro
Schubert: Erlkönig – Johannes Held, Engegård Quartet, Doric String Quartet and Sonoro
Piazzolla: Oblivión – Per Arne Glorvigen, Engegård Quartet, Doric String Quartet and Sonoro
Adolph Thomsen: Childhood memories from Nordland – Johannes Held, Georgy Tchaidze, Engegård Quartet, Doric String Quartet and Sonoro
Monty: Czardaz – Arvid Engegård, Joachim Carr, Per Arne Glorvigen, Engegård Quartet, Doric String Quartet and Sonoro

Volt Ensemble visit Lofoten

Volt Ensemble is touring with their new concert series. We contribute to their concerts throughout Lofoten. First out is the Meieriet Kultursenter at Leknes, Thursday 23 August. Friday there will be a concert in Henningsvær, first in Henningsvær Church before the concert continue and conclude at the Trevarefabrikken. The concert series will end at Ramberg on Saturday 25 August.

Music in Movement 7 (MiM7) is a new concert series focusing on movement in time and space, between concert arenas and between musicians on stage. The audience can look forward to a journey between countries and continents in the program “Finale”.

On the stage this evening we find the Volt Ensemble with guest artists:
Christopher Tun Andersen, violin
Elisabeth Turmo, violin
Damon Taheri, viola
Ingvild Nesdal Sandnes, cello
Pedro Lopez Campos, flute
Giulio Potenza, piano
Oda Voltersvik, piano and project manager

The Volt Ensemble consists of gifted Scandinavian musicians with master’s degrees and diplomas from renowned universities internationally (Julliard School & Manhattan School New York, Royal College of Music London) and international careers individually. Previous concert venues include several concerts during the Grieg in Bergen International Festival, SPIRA Cultural Center, London Arts Club 1901 and Kabuso Cultural Center.

Leif Ove Andsnes visit Lofoten

We have been fortunate enough to capture one out of four solo concerts in Norway with Leif Ove Andsnes in 2020. He will be playing on the new grand piano in Buksnes Church on January 26 at 0700pm. Tickets are on sale.

The pianist Leif Ove Andsnes is by far Norway’s most prominent classical musician. He has been central to building the festival’s reputation for the first few years by visiting us regularly. He has continued to do so, and we are proud to have one out of only four solo concerts in Norway in 2020.

Since Leif Ove was central to the acquisition of the new grand piano in Buksnes Church, it was his own desire to put the concert here.

He plays music by Dvorak, Bartok and Schumann, and has promised to be generous with the extras.

The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra visit Lofoten

The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra has been one of Norway’s foremost musical export items since the beginning of the 1970s. In October we have the pleasure of having them in Lofoten. The concert will be held at Meieriet Kultursenter in Leknes on Friday 11 October at 0600pm.

The Norwegian violinist Terje Tønnesen has been artistic director for many years, but occasionally the orchestra engages guests as artistic directors.

In 2019, Arvid Engegård is their special guest, the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival artistic director since its beginning in 2004.

Engegård regularly conducts large orchestras, but has always preferred the smaller formats. With his own quartet he has won international recognition, and in this concert production he is in a desirable role: he leads the orchestra from the first violin.

The concert focuses on Norwegian trumpet player Tine Thing Helseth, another star we find just as often in large foreign halls as here at home. She plays two full concerts.
But like so many other musicians, Helseth is committed to recruiting new generations, so she brings together young brass blowers from the region to a seminar that will culminate in the opening piece of the concert.

The concert in the Dairy is part of a tour in Northern Norway which also goes to Narvik, Harstad and Bodø.

Changes in the program – two new artists

Since two of our musicians have cancelled, we are now announcing two new musicians for this year’s festival. We welcome the pianist Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula and tenor Johannes Held. Both arrive in Lofoten at Sunday and will be playing during the opening concert Monday.

Thursday afternoon we received a message that both pianist Ingrid Fliter and tenor Thorbjørn Gulbrandsøy are prevented from attending the festival. We have been looking forward to having them here, but have full understanding of the inconvenience that prevents them from traveling to Lofoten.

Despite short notice, we are very grateful to introduce both pianist Jean-Sélim Abdelmour and tenor Johannes Held as new artists. They are both international names that we have had in the spotlight already. They both arrive before the opening concert and will therefore participate already then.

During the week there will be minor changes in the program. Unfortunately, we do not have the opportunity to make changes to printed material (program book and brochure). However, it will be possible to see the updated program digitally. Changes will be announced during the concerts.

Johannes Held, tenor
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Read this year’s program book digitally

The program book is a result of several years of work. In the book we present artists we started to book already 2 years ago. We present the events and concert program we have prepared over the past year, together with the artists. The book represents the festival we have been working on for a long time. Once the program book has gone into print, there is no way back.

In addition to an overview of the events and the concert program, the program book gives much more. Here you will become more familiar with the artists through interviews conducted by us. You can also read more about some of our concerts with historical facts you may not have known before. We have also written about the festival’s history in connection with the 15th anniversary. Several pictures illustrate some highlights.

The program book is distributed free of charge before our concerts. New this year, we also publish the program book digitally. We hope this gives even more people the opportunity to read and deepen.

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