Bjørn Nessjø, Øyvind Gimse and Erling Dahl jr. arrived in Berlin in the evening.
Run-through of the plans for the week.
Lunch at Die Philharmonie. Meeting with Christoph Hartmann and the other mentors, and the musicians who were in Røros on 1st May.
Wednesday evening: Meeting over dinner at Trattoria á Muntagnola. All of the mentors were present. Arild Erikstad from NRK was also in attendance. He was in Berlin on other business, but managed to weave our meeting into his plans, and brought a photographer with him to the first rehearsal on Tuesday morning. The resultant article will appear in Hovedscenen.
The meeting with the mentors was very positive, and they looked forward with great anticipation to the first rehearsal the following day – featuring the whole ensemble playing Mendelssohn’s Octet.
Ludvig Quandt, cello
Luiz Coelho, violin
Walter Küssner, viola
Christoph Hartmann, oboe
Øyvind Gimse, cello
Arrival of the members of KonstKnekt at the hotel.
Ragnhild Kyvik Bauge, violin
Mirjam Kemmler, cello
Edvard Erdal, violin
Michael Grolid, viola
Joakim Røbergshagen, violin
From 10:00 onwards we were given the use of an excellent rehearsal room at Die Philharmonie (414).
The first part of the rehearsal was devoted to recording and an interview with NRK.
From 12:00 to 14:00 the ensemble had their first full rehearsal of Mendelssohn. The rehearsal went well, and it was clear that for instance Edvard Erdal – who played first violin – had put a great deal of work into his preparations. This encouraged and stimulated both the apprentices and the mentors in the ensemble.
From 14:30 to 16:00 the group rehearsed Mozart’s Oboe Quintet with Christoph Hartmann and Walter Küssner as mentors and Edvard Erdal, Michael Grolid and Mirjam Kemmler as apprentices.
From 19:00 to 21:30 the group rehearsed Schostakovich’s Quartet no. 8. Ludwig Quandt was the mentor and Ragnhild Kyvik Bauge, Joakim Røbergshagen and Michael Grolid were the apprentices.
The first day in Berlin was without doubt both a great experience and a real test for the students. They sat here and played with some of the world’s foremost musicians on their instruments, and they did this by interacting not as professor and student, but rather as fellow players, with the mentor, by means of playing, gestures and comments, seeing to it that everyone present connected all the more closely with one another and with the music.
The fact that through the course of the day they were able – during the breaks – to be in the musicians’ canteen, and to meet and see so many of their idols and see that they were amiable and hardworking people, gave an extra dimension to the stay.
It was a pleasure for us (Bjørn and I), who were heavily involved in the 1st May concert, to once again meet the musicians there who had been able to be part of that concert. There is no doubt that that concert had also left a lasting impression on the performers.
A busy rehearsal schedule going over the same works with the same mentors from 10:00 to 19:00.
In the course of the day there was also the opportunity for Øyvind Gimse to have an extra rehearsal with the two violins who did not play on the Mozart piece, and Walter Küssner had a lengthy rehearsal with our viola apprentice.
During the rehearsal Sir Simon Rattle also came in and said hello to the musicians and to us. He had just completed the second general rehearsal for the tour programme which the BPO was due to commence in the USA – departing on Monday the 7th of November! That was very kind and generous of him. He remarked once again that the concert in Røros had been unforgettable and that the church was a gift from God to the music.
We were all invited to the concert that evening. Schönberg, Webern and Berg (Second Viennese School) were performed before the interval and Brahms’ 2nd Symphony after the interval.
The concert in Die Philharmonie was a magnificent experience. Great music performed by “the world’s largest and best chamber orchestra”.
Following the concert we were all invited to return to the musicians’ canteen, where people could not stop talking about the concert. Because we came in via the secret back door which Christoph Hartmann had shown me, we found our way directly into the cloakroom where we bumped into Sir Simon Rattle. We stopped there and I waited for an opportunity to thank him for the concert.
I also persuaded Sir Simon to pose for a photo with our apprentices, and everyone in that photo simply beams with happiness.
Our apprentices mingled well with the festive gathering there.
The Berlin Philharmonic has its own orchestra academy, and they had had an intensive week with a concert on Sunday the 6th of November. They were also present in the gathering there, and our apprentices were able to network with them.
Rehearsals of the three works from 10:00 to 18:30.
The rehearsals were intensive and the progress was surprisingly large. All of the mentors agreed that all three works should be performed in their entirety at the concert on Sunday.
Following the rehearsals a concert was given by the BPO at 20:00, which included Mahler’s 7th Symphony and a short piece by Pierre Boulez.
Both of the concerts, as well as the experience of being “in the house” over the course of the days we spent there, left a deep impression on everyone.
9:00 to 10:30.
General rehearsal of Mendelssohn and Mozart.
11:00 to 13:00 Concert by the BPO Academy in the Kammersaal. Britten, Brahms, Bach and Beethoven.
Our concert was to be held in the Norwegian Seaman’s Church at Landhausstrasse 28. The priest there, Hilde Barsnes, had put in a lot of work in preparation, including arranging the interior of the church especially for the concert. From 17:30 to 18:30 the Schostakovitch Quartet had its general rehearsal.
It was a very good event, and the Norwegian ambassador to Germany, Elisabeth Waraas, was in attendance.
Hilde Barsnes bade everyone welcome, and the remainder of the concert was introduced by myself.
The programme consisted of: Schostakovitch, Mozart – a short interval in which waffles were served – and Mendelssohn.
Following the concert Christoph Hartmann had booked a table at a nearby and very authentic Japanese restaurant. It was an exhilarated and excited party which made its way there.
Upon arrival we noticed that the concertmaster Daishin Kashimoto was dining there with his wife(?). Daishin had also been the concertmaster at the concert in Røros, and he played both concerts while we were in Berlin. A great pleasure.
After this we “old-timers” took stock at the hotel, while the younger members of the party went out on the town.
The group gathered in the morning to eat breakfast and say goodbye for now.
There was every indication that this had been an unforgettable week for the students.
It is thus all the more pleasing that we will be spending an additional week – the first week in February – in Røros with the same group. The week in question is a winter holiday in Berlin, so we will invite the mentors and their families (if they wish to come) to Røros. We will begin on the 1st of February. The concert will take place on the Sunday afternoon/evening and we will leave on the 6th of February.
Christoph Hartmann was so impressed with the apprentices that he invited them all to his chamber music festival in Landsberg am Lech in the first week of July.
This means that in this first year we have already managed to organise and finance 26 working days with the mentors and the apprentices.
I therefore feel that it is fair to say that we have fulfilled our goals thus far.
We were able to gather together five good, qualified young musicians who took the task and the challenges it entailed very seriously indeed. They displayed a commitment and a discipline which impressed both me and the mentors in equal measure.
Our ambition is that, either in the present or a future intake, some of our students will show themselves to be of a sufficient calibre to be accepted into the BPO Academy. In the opinion of the mentors a couple of members of our party were already close to the required standard. (The average age of attendees of the Academy is 22-23 years. Our students are younger than that, so they still have plenty of time to make the grade).
The collaboration between us and Berlin has been exceptionally good. Christoph Hartmann is a very unique personality who has the ability to cultivate bonds between people on many levels. (He clearly also a great adhesive effect in the orchestra.) Together with his colleagues he also organised everything in Berlin, and when one considers that we have Bjørn and Kari following up on this in their inimitable style, it may be said that this endeavour has been carried off with precision, flexibility and to a high standard throughout.
The board (Øyvind, Tor Espen and Erling) have all contributed each in their own way, and the result has been of a very high standard.
Considering the short amount of time we had to plan the trip from when the funding was put in place until we set off, it stands as a good example of how the organisation is set up in such a way that, once we are ready to take the first step, that is exactly what we do, without further delay!
It will be exciting to hear the apprentices’ reactions and the reactions of their peers (fellow students and teachers).
We can look forward with joy and expectation to the next gathering of the group – in Røros.
Bergen, 11th November 2016
Erling Dahl jr.
Chairman of the board of KonstKnekt.