It has been said that every little Norwegian town and village has its own festival. From May to September several hundred festivals are staged throughout the country, and from this plethora of events MIC Norway picks out some of our summer favourites.
The Øya Festival
Despite being one of the youngest of the major festivals, the Øya Festival is steadily growing. Set in an idyllic setting in the Medieval Park on Oslo's East Side, the festival has quickly established itself as a key venue for Norwegian bands, both major acts as well as up-and-coming ones. With a solid focus on Norwegian up-and-coming as well as well-established acts with an additional contingent of top-tier international acts blended in, Øya manages time and again to capture the zeitgeist. Club concerts at vibrant venues such as Mono and Garage complement the three outdoor stages in Oslo's Medieval Park, leaving urban festival-goers with a compact and artistically pleasing total package.
This year's line-up is as strong as ever and includes acts Björk, Bon Iver, Ane Brun, Florence & The Machine, Frank Ocean, Lindstrøm, Mathias Eick, Philco Fiction, Saint Etienne, Susanna , Susanne Sundfør and Årabrot.
When: 7-11 August
Kongsberg Jazz Festival
Of Scandinavian jazz festivals Kongsberg is the second oldest and one of the largest sporting a wide range of artists and styles. The music is invariably of the highest quality, played in venues of exceptional attractiveness (including a refurbished silver smelting factory and a quaint local tea-room), appealing to an audience as diverse as the fare. Add to this the accompaniment of immaculate weather and you have the recipe for a stellar festival experience! Indeed, walking between the 18 different sites is frequently a pleasure, not the least due to their separation by 70 metre bridge across a raging torrent of Grade 5 white water. The air shimmers with positive ions and one's ears sing with the roar of the water.
The festival’s varied programme proves that Kongsberg Jazz is one of the places globally to witness this edge of modern jazz slowly move forward, whether you measure it in inches or in centimetres. 2012 highlights include Solveig Slettahjell and Morten Qvenild, Elephant9, Jon Balke Magnetic Book, Per Jørgensen and Friends, Atomic, Arve Henriksen/Audun Kleive/Helge Nordbakken plus The Thing w/ Agustí Fernández & Peter Evans,
When: 4-7 July
Molde International Jazz Festival
Established in 1961, the Molde International Jazz Festival is without doubt one of the nation’s leading festivals, both in terms of size, historical significance and international standing. Over the years the festival has given key exposure for Norwegian jazz acts as the event has a long history of attracting international media and music industry reps.
The festival has also long been host to special projects and, as one of five festivals—Molde being the only jazz event—receiving additional government funding, Molde has been able to commission new works that have been recorded and ultimately released commercially. The festival has also been a part of the Intro Jazz: Årets Unge Jazzmusikere program, where eight groups are selected each year, from a larger collection of applicants, to compete for a prize of several hundred thousand Norwegian Kroners that can be used to help further their careers.
Highlights this year include Lovano/Douglas/Baron Quintet, Nils Petter Molvær, Wayne Shorter Quartet featuring Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Jorge Rossy, The John Scofield Hollowbody Band, Bjørn Alterhaug Quintet, The Real Thing. Giovanna Pessi | Susanna Wallumrød, and Ane Brun.
For 2012, composer and keyboardist Jon Balke has been announced as the festival’s Artist in Residence and is set to perform new works in six varied live settings.
When: 16-21 July
Førde Folk Music Festival
The Førde Folk Music Festival holds an unrivalled position as Norway's key folk/ethnic/world/crossover festival. Permeating artist bookings and live events is a festival theme that is changed annually. This year’s theme is coexistence. The festival’s own conference focuses on the demographics of the audience. Is it constant or can it be changed? Can we reach out to new user groups as the overall consumption of culture is on the increase? Cultural coexistence can be seen as stimulating and challenging and arguably enriches us all. Many musical expressions and traditions have evolved through peaceful co-existence between people of different cultures. The live programme mirrors the festival’s theme nicely and includes acts such as Ragnhild Furebotten & Never On A Sunday, Frikar Dance Company’s new performance ‘8’, Trio Mediæval as well as an extensive roster of acts from virtually every nook and cranny of the globe; Damily, Yasmin Levy, Kamel El Harrachi, Lúnasa, Anoushka Shankar, Harald Haugaard Trio and much more.
When: 5-8 July
International Chamber Music Festival Stavanger
The International Chamber Music Festival in west-coast town Stavanger is one of the leading Scandinavian chamber music events. The festival manages to bring together the established greats with the up-and-coming. Inspiring surroundings, vital performers, great acoustics and night after night with lasting musical memories – the ICMF is hard to beat. Led by artistic directors Martin Fröst and Christian Ihle Hadland, the festival offers an impressive roster of performers including the Jerusalem Quartet, Trio Paul Klee, Boris Brovtsyn, Cecilia Zilliacus, Catherine Bullock, Christian Poltéra, Bengt Forsberg, Anne Sofie von Otter and Barokksolistene w/Bjarte Eike.
When: 6-12 August
Founded in 2005, Kristiansand’s Punkt Festival’s governing principle is to contribute to further development of modern electronic music. Since the birth of the event, the festival has commissioned great international and Norwegian artists, like Arve Henriksen, Nils Petter Molvær, Supersilent, Sidsel Endresen, Maja Ratkje, Jon Hassel, Alain Johannes and many more, put them together and thus created both new concepts, new music and lasting artistic partnerships. The festival is run and curated by veteran musicians and producers Jan Bang and Erik Honoré, and at the heart of the festival roster is the large network of fellow artists they have worked with around the world. The live remixing is a recurrent and central element of the Punkt festival, and this year’s edition will again see artists doing live and immediate reworkings of concerts as they are being performed.
Legendary artist and producer Brian Eno is confirmed as Artistic Director of this year´s Punkt Festival held at the new Kilden Performing Arts Centre in Kristiansand, where he will present some of his current favourite artists and remixers. He will curate all nine concerts during the three day festival and, as with past editions, the artists’ performances will be remixed live after the concerts.
When: 6-8 September
MIC has compiled a list of virtually all Norwegian festivals in its Festival Guide – check out the extensive listing here.