It’s a paradox that I have seldom seen so many TV-teams and photographers at a contemporary concert - neither in Norway nor anywhere else. For many of the glossy magazines journalists and photographers in search of royal glamour, it was probably a virginal contemporary concert night.
In the gold-sparkling Berlin Philharmonie, the Magma Festival 2002 was duly opened on Saturday. The concert hall was for the occasion shrouded in fog as a vigilant Danish National Orchestra led by conductor Dausgaard struck the royal opening note. The concert hall is in itself nearly a mythical venue – the Grand Hall of European music. Crown Prince Haakon of Norway’s well-formulated bi-lingual (German/English) opening speech was not the cause of the listener’s expectation this evening (apologies to Haakon!). It was evident that the festival week’s aural and visual offerings were what the audience was looking forward to.
Despite all of this, it was for many quite extraordinary to witness royal participation at such a popular event. An Italian journalist representing Sardegna felt that the Crown Prince’s presence was extraordinary: Berlusconi would never have done anything like that!
Perhaps the musical fringe has realised we Norwegians have a future king with artistic refinement. Crown Prince Haakon did not just attend the fist part of the opening concert and then head for home. Two possible reasons for the royal presence: The Norwegian Society of Composers must have charmed the Crown Prince completely or alternately Haakon was simply pleased and frankly grateful for the invitation. The latter appeared to be the reason for both Haakon and those of us that are less than royal. In the end, we forgot all about his presence – the music on display was simply magnificent.
This vibrant Danish orchestra performed an all-Danish opening programme with great interpretations and strong pathos. The instrumental proficiency displayed was on par with those excellent ensembles that perform regularly in this concert hall. Per Nørgård’s monumental Sixth Symphony was a particularly well executed example of this proficiency. The wind and percussion groups in particular showed solid workmanship in the interpretation of this work as well as in Carl Nielsen’s Symphony no. 5.
The opening concert in Scharoun’s magnificent building was not only a major tonal (and royal) experience. For the first time, visitors were able to take in the unique architectural splendour of the Berliner Philharmonie. One could argue that this building is nearly a state of mind – given that you’re able experience the room’s calmness and sense of peace. As darkness fell upon us, we were able to find this calm and peace. However, it’s a paradox that I have seldom seen so many TV-teams and photographers at a contemporary concert - neither in Norway nor anywhere else. For many of the glossy magazines journalists and photographers in search of royal glamour, it was probably a virginal contemporary concert night. For the Crown Prince it must have been a pleasing thought: his presence at a contemporary concert leading to others experiencing such music for the first time. In my opinion, that’s a strong argument for the continued existence of the royal family.