This year’s festival programme embraces innovative multi-productions, theatre with a sting and celebrated names within classical music, according to Festival Director Anders Beyer.
'The Bergen festival aims to reach an increasingly wider audience. The universal becomes more universal and the select becomes more select,' he says, presenting his fourth festival programme.
Prominent names in classical music
Classical superstars such as Philip Glass, Sir András Schiff, Mahan Esfahani and Janine Jansen are amongst this year’s festival guests. In addition, the festival presents Jordi Savall from Catalonia, one of the foremost personalities within renaissance music. He has nurtured his passion for the early musical instrument viola da gamba for over 50 years, while cultivating a strong interest in the interaction between various cultures and religions through music and poetry.
The man behind the meteoric comeback of the harpsichord is also ready for the festival. Mahan Esfahani, was proclaimed as BBC Music Magazine’s newcomer of the year and is in great demand. Esfahani’s engagement, interpretation and four solo albums has made him the darling of both critics and audiences. Esfahani plays Bach in the medieval stone hall Haakonshallen together with Concerto Köln. At the same venue, the festival audience can meet Sir András Schiff, who was knighted in Britain for his valuable contribution to music. The pianist is currently one of classical music’s foremost figures and he tours all over the world.
'Classical music is the cornerstone of our multifaceted festival programme, and I am proud to welcome so many great personalities to Bergen for the 2016 festival,' the Festival Director says.
Young Norwegian talent and master mentors
Janine Jansen from the Netherlands is one of the world’s best known violinists. She has teamed up with the celebrated Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes before, so it is with much delight that she continues this collaboration through the mentoring programme Crescendo. During the festival the two eminent musicians mentor and play with the top young soloists Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad (viola), Guro Kleven Hagen (violin) and Kian Soltani (cello). Crescendo is a collaboration between the Bergen Festival, Barratt Due Institute of Music and the Oslo Philharmonic and includes a programme for young chamber ensembles, which will be performing several concerts during the festival period.
Art without barriers
The festival mirrors the world in art and has in 2016 a number of productions encompassing the theme barriers in its broadest context. The US composer and pianist Philip Glass is a central participant of this year’s programme. We first meet Glass during the festival opening in Powaqqatsi – Life in Transformation, the cult film from 1988 by Glass and director Godfrey Reggio. He subsequently performs with his own Philip Glass Ensemble in the concert PGE Retro performing works from the period 1969-1983.
'Philip Glass creates music without predictable boundaries inspired by all cultures of the world, which is exactly why he is featured in so many contexts, including a concert featuring the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, and even as part of our debate programme,' says Beyer.
The Spanish theatre company Kamchàtka tells a story about fleeing oppression in Fugit – an homage to all those who have had the courage to abandon the familiar and move on in the hope of a new and better life. It takes place in the streets of Bergen, and traverses theatre, roleplay and reality, and requires the audience to wear comfortable shoes.
Premieres – world and otherwise
World premieres are central to the festival programme, and amongst this year’s close to 300 concerts and events are a number of world premieres. One such contributor is world-leading opera director Peter Konwitschny, who has chosen three of Bach’s cantatas to bring to the stage in Falsche Welt, dir trau ich nicht! In addition, there will be several European premieres, Scandinavian premieres and Norwegian premieres.
Extraordinary concert experiences
The concept Quiet Concert from last year’s festival is developed a step further with the performance Water Fools, where, Lille Lungegårdsvann, Bergen’s city lake, is used as a reflective arena and filled with bizarre and lyrical scenes in the darkness of night. This is staged by the French dance company Ilotopie, accompanied by the music of Phil Spectrum.
Arnord Schönberg is a recurring name throughout the programme and includes a new staging of Verklärte Nacht and Erwartung. At the venue Østre, a new sound installation and experimental music programme is presented in the concept Lull, lasting for 12 days.
The concert programme offers everything from trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg and opera talent Lise Davidsen to Africa’s superstar Angelique Kidjo.
The 2015 Bergen International Festival holds an audience record of more than 100.000 visitors.
'The festival programme is large and varied and we hope that at least as many festival visitors, both domestic and international, will challenge their own barriers and visit us this year, says Anders Beyer.
Click here to see all 2016 Festival events.
Click here for the digital version of the Festival catalogue.