Photo: Young KonstKnekt players with Sir Simon Rattle, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic.
This new venture has been given the name KonstKnekt – the Orchestral Academy of the Kavli Trust and the Winter Chamber Music Festival (ViB) in Røros.
Collaboration with Germany in this Unesco World Heritage town dates back to the 1640s, when German Lorentz Lossius and central European engineering skills allowed copper mining to begin.
The word “konstknekt” derives from the German terms “kunst”, meaning engineering knowledge, and “knekt” or young person – and accordingly designated an apprentice miner.
The ViB and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) now want to extend this tradition of German-Norwegian collaboration to another arena – music.
This initiative has been welcomed by the Kavli Trust, which has been a supporter of the Røros festival for many years.
KonstKnekt marks a continuation of a unique partnership extending over a number of years between the ViB and the German orchestra. It also offers a unique opportunity to forge ties between Norwegian educational institutions and the BPO’s Orchestral Academy (OABPO) – a “hatchery” for those seeking a career as a professional orchestral musician.
The collaboration between the ViB and the BPO will benefit Norway’s whole musical community, with candidates selected to take part in KonstKnekt receiving an education at MA or diploma level. Their basic qualification is that they must be an approved understudy with at least one of the institutional orchestras in Norway, in order to ensure a high level of quality.
Norway has a number of programmes for talented musicians today, but most of these – and the largest of them – are directed at soloists.
Meanwhile, such opportunities as exist for young people and students in Norway to play at the orchestral level are characterised much more by a commitment to breadth. This means that the number of highly motivated and trained Norwegian applicants at the highest level of orchestral posts is very limited.
Norway’s institutional orchestras have seen a number of foreign applicants for vacant positions in recent years. Their quality is high and competition very intense. Viewed in isolation, this is very gratifying for the orchestras since they can pick and choose between musicians with high educational attainments. But the proportion of Norwegian players has gradually declined, and is now below 50 per cent in some places.
When making appointments, orchestras frequently find that young Norwegian musicians fall short in terms of knowledge of the repertoire in orchestral literature. They often play extremely well as soloists, but lack understanding of being an orchestral musician and are surpassed by foreign candidates who are often drilled in this aspect.
KonstKnekt aims to represent the peak of orchestral education in Norway and to give Norwegian performers the best chance to assert themselves as orchestral musicians both at home and abroad.
KonstKnekt participants in 2016
Ragnhild Kyvik Bauge, violin
Bauge began playing the violin at the age of six. As a teenager, she was admitted to the talented youngster programme at the Barratt Due music school, with Sigyn Fossnes and Eileen Siegel as her teachers. She is now in the third year of a performance BA at the Norwegian State Academy of Music, where she is studying with Professor Peter Herresthal.
Bauge has participated in many courses and master classes both in Norway and abroad, and has been a prizewinner in a number of national and regional competitions. She was a soloist with the Young Peoples Concert staged by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in the spring of 2016.
Mirjam Kemmler, cello
Kemmler is studying with Truls Mørk at the Norwegian State Academy of Music. As an eight-year-old, she was the youngest participant in Barratt Due’s talented youngster programme and was taught there for a decade. She has performed at home and abroad, including such events as the Aberystwyth Music Festival, Porziano Musica and Astona International.
Kemmler has already won a number of prizes, and was a soloist with the Broadcasting Orchestra as a finalist in the Virtuoso competition of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK).
Michael Grolid, viola
Grolid (born 1997) has played violin and viola for a decade, with his main emphasis on the latter instrument over the past six years.
A student in the talented youngster programme at the Barratt Due music school in Oslo, he has won a number of national competitions. These include his class in the Youth Music Championship in November 2014, a special award in the Sparre Olsen competition at Gjøvik in April 2014, and his class in the Midtgard competition at Horten in September 2013.
Grolid also played in the Young Peoples Concert with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in April 2015, when he performed the second and third movements from a self-composed viola concerto. He also won the audience prize at this concert.
Joakim Røbergshagen, violin
Røbergshagen (born 2000) is a student in the talented youngster programme at the music department of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), with Bård Monsen as his teacher.
He performed Mendelssohn’s violin concerto as the soloist with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in the spring of 2016, under the baton of principal conductor Christian Vasquez. Røbergshagen made his debut as a soloist at the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra (TSO) in November 2013 with Ha-Nah Chang as conductor. He won the Arve Tellefsen Music Prize for 2016 and was voted Musician of the Year in 2012, at the age of 11, as the youngest-even winner of the Youth Music Championship.
Edvard Erdal, violin
Erdal (born 1996) began playing the violin at the age of five, and is now studying with Stephan Barratt-Due at the Barratt Due Music School. He has won a number of chamber music competitions with various ensembles, and has been an understudy with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and the Opera Orchestra.
During the autumn of 2014, Erdal helped to establish the Opus 13 string quartet and has performed concertos with it at the Bergen International Festival and elsewhere. Opus 13 belongs to the Crescendo mentor programme.
Read more on the new KonstKnekt website here.