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Out of soul

Classical music does not lie down to die. It has become both hip and popular.


[dress code] The blue suit and the feeling of devotion are left at home. The dress code is a hoodie and three-day beard, while the wardrobe guard has been replaced by a DJ, former Night & Day editor Gaute Drevdal, who plays Mozart. Some are scurrying across the floor with wet sneakers, from the bar clinking coins and the posters at the basement entrance evoke vivid memories of the teenage leisure club.

We are in the bomb-making premises of Betong at Chateau Neuf in Oslo, where the national concerts organize Klesskik club 1 – an outstretched hand to a younger audience who want to hear classical music. On the program are Bach, Ligeti and Ravel. String quartet, harpsichord and quartet marimba. No nonsense.

- We have been bullied for the name. That it sounds as if 50-year-olds are going to do something trendy for young people, says producer Alison Bullock Aarsten.

- But the important thing is to try to reach a new group of people who do not usually go to classical concerts.

Popular advances

This fall, the debates about the future of art music have been roused. The Oslo Chamber Music Festival got its due for excluding students and young people with unreachable ticket prices. Then the contemporary music festival Ultima was criticized for cryptic marketing and introspection, but also for being too narrow. The Listener Association for Classical Music debated whether Dan Børge Akerös The Great Chance was a worthy scene for young top-educated talents, before Aftenposten's editor-in-chief Knut Olav Åmås asked questions about the entire future of classical music.

Parallel to these troubled debates and predictions of the early death of classical music, several atypical inventions from the art music community emerge. Suddenly, you can download contemporary music as a ringtone to your mobile phone, experience theater sports on Beethoven's performance and watch Satyricon play beinhard black metal with the Broadcasting Orchestra.

Is something about to happen in the span between art music and modern forms of communication? Pianist and chamber musician Christian Ihle Hadland, who just played during the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, thinks it is time to adapt to today's impressionistic situation.

- 250 years ago, people could take the time to listen to a work ten times, and you had to go to a concert to experience music. Today, music is everywhere, and it is the three-minute format that applies. You just have to take note of that.

Artistic leader of the New Music organization, Lars Petter Hagen, also believes that one must realize that things have changed in the last 200 years.

- One must detach oneself from the "Fartein Valen syndrome", a romantic idea about the lonely genius who sits on a rock far out in the ocean gap and just prints out fantastic music for himself. Today, one must think holistically about communication and content.

For Hagen it is important to remove the notion of contemporary music as a special activity for a small circle of serious people.

- A task for contemporary music must be to appear less self-assured. On the contrary, it is often absurd, comical and funny. That is why our new slogan is "Contemporary music for most people – all year round", he explains.

Since 1938, Ny Musikk has worked to promote experimental and genre-transcending music. Information consultant Torgny Amdam, former vocalist in the punk band Amulet, sits in the Tollbugata office and proudly presents feedback on the fresh YouTube page for New Music.

- Here's a kid from the US who loves our Whitehouse video! Fat!

The YouTube website contains a wealth of amateur video clips of people dumbing down, talking cats and old music videos from the 1980s. New Music has now moved into this multimedia chaos area with its concert recordings and films.

- We meet a completely different audience in this way. A global and younger audience, says artistic director Lars Petter Hagen.

It may not be as easy to reach new listeners when it comes to spreading music that for many is tantamount to shrinking noise and culture -

snobbery. That's why parts of Ny Musikk's strategy are relatively aggressive: Contemporary music for most people, whether they want to or not.

- As part of the Oslo Marathon event, we drove an old bus around Oslo, while we played plingplong and noise music at brutal volume. The project was not just pure missionary work, but at the same time a clear parallel to the Russian buses that also drive around and force music on people, says Hagen and describes the noise bus as a democratic project to point out the diversity of music.

- But does not this work only against its purpose?

- It should not be perceived as ironic, scornful or intrusive. But if you work on something you think is important, you can not stand and whisper in the crowd. One must dare to shout.

In search of new scenes for contemporary music, Ny Musikk has arranged concerts in a skate hall and in a caravan in Greenland. Now the big shopping malls are in charge.

- People no longer travel to the city center from the slums to go to the theater, but to shop. In Oslo City, around 50.000 people stop by every day, and you can almost say that the shopping center has become a new cultural arena. And why can we not present some contemporary music in a place where boy bands sign records and a table pianist plays? Hagen asks.

In addition, Ny Music is now launching contemporary music for the mobile phone, so that forties of all ages can get Lasse Marhaug's noise booze out of the phone when mom calls. Lars Petter Hagen believes the project is more than one

good publicity.

- It is a premise that it must be artistically interesting. If you just change shapes without preserving an artistic depth, you are doomed to fail. To challenge the genre, we got the artists to specially compose ringtones for the mobile phone format.

Among others, composers Øyvind Torvund, Maja Ratkje and Georg Friedrich Haas have supplied ringtones for the project. The eternal danger of youthful communication, however, is that one is easily perceived as spasmodic hip, but Hagen is not afraid of acting.

- The main point is to try out new dissemination arenas, and when we experiment in this way, we must also dare to shit ourselves out, he laughs.

The national concerts Klæsik klubbb project will take the classical music away from the concert halls and into club scenes and student pubs. Åse Kleveland, director of the National Concerts, believes many young people listen to classical music at home, but that they refuse to put on the old graduation dress and go to a concert.

- In the concert halls there is a dress code. One should sit in a special way, and not clap between the movements. In addition, classical music is not so directly aimed at the audience. First the pianist enters the stage and turns his back on the hall, then the conductor comes and does the same. Nobody says a word. It feels quite exclusive.

Kleveland believes the old codes have hardened in the cultural institutions throughout

many years.

- The worst thing is that many of these codes make you feel very stupid. Therefore, we will lift the music out of the room where these codes are in the walls.

- Does the music not lose something by being taken out of its original context?

- Mozart is not lessened by the fact that he is taken out of the concert hall. We must dare to think new, and trust that the music can withstand this, says Kleveland.

Pianist Christian Ihle Hadland also gets annoyed that he can't play in a comfortable t-shirt.

- There are not many occupational groups that still wear dresses and whites at work, he sighs.

He debuted as a soloist for Broadcasting

the orchestra when he was 15, and after almost nine years as a chamber musician, Hadland has become acquainted with part of the environment's old-fashioned custom.

- There is still a snob syndrome in this country. In Norway, classical music has always been an upper-class phenomenon, while in Germany and Austria it is part of popular music. When I saw the Magic Flute by Mozart in Berlin there was a bunch of punks at the back of the concert hall. If they had appeared at a concert here in Norway, everyone would wonder what the hell they were doing there.

However, lower ticket prices and dress code revolution do not automatically make the concert experience more exciting, according to Ihle Hadland. He misses blood on the keys and profiles with distinctive character.

- Classical music requires an insane dedication from the musician. It's about bleeding and dying for the music. Then I think the audience must notice this ecstasy in the communication. It is not the construction of concrete structures we are talking about, he says and believes it is natural that the audience reacts if there are strong emotions in the scene.

- Nothing should go to the detriment of quality, but I just think it's cool if people clink with beer glasses, bows, laughter and pats when they want.

Strauss and security guards

Lately, we have also seen several examples of how classical music is paired with other expressions. The orchestra has performed under his new orchestral conductor Martin Revheim with Vamp and the metal band Satyricon. The Oslo String Quartet held a concert series this fall called the Beethoven Code, in which concerts were seasoned with theater sports and a specially written Brødrene Dal episode.

Åse Kleveland says the National Concerts with Klesskik club 1 does not need to save all youngsters for the classical music.

- It all boils down to whether you want to try to reach a new group. At the same time, not everyone must necessarily like everything. How easy is it, for example, to hijack new fans of field hockey? says Hadland and looks out over the room at the around 50 people who have found their way this evening.

Close by is composer Arne Nordheim drinking beer. Two of his pieces will soon be performed from the stage.

- This creates an army of expectants, he says cryptically.

The DJ mixes a Viennese waltz by Strauss into some crackling electronic music. Nordheim hums. The bar buys some four pints, and on stage the first musician of the evening voices the violin. Arne Nordheim continues.

- Many strive to bring out one understanding of music. The nice thing here is that one flows into the other.

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