In connection with the Lofoten Piano Festival 2020 we have conducted an interview with artistic director Christian Ihle Hadland.
Characteristic of 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.
You are engaged as artistic director of the Lofoten Piano Festival 2020. What does this assignment mean in practice?
– First and foremost it is to find and invite musicians, put together programs and decide venues. I also have to adapt the workload to the musicians, ie give them a good combination of known and unknown repertoire. I also 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.
The Lofoten Piano Festival has received a lot of attention for its high artistic quality – also outside Norway. This is a lot thanks to international musicians from the top shelf. Accessing these requires a certain network. How did you build your own?
– When I graduated, no one talked about building networks. They 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 might try to complicate it with just too many words.
When we talk 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 speechless piano concert by Brahms with great sound and huge profits. 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 interaction – 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. That the festival is just in the 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 when they get Lofoten on the purchase. Lofoten in July is probably more tempting than most things, I must say.
How far have you come with the artists and the program?
– All the musicians are in place (bank in the table). Now the program remains, but there I already have a solid grounding. Much has fallen into place. The opening and closing concert is always the hardest! The musicians are largely able to announce their own wishes, while I sit with a handsome 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 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 Nordland Night’s 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.