EJN Staff Exchange Programme

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Previous participant: Lisa Löfgren

From: Svensk Jazz (Sweden)
To: Østnorsk Jazzsenter
12 - 25 March 2018

During March 12–25 2018 I had the opportunity to visit Oslo, Bergen and Voss in Norway through the Eruope Jazz Network staff exchange program. I visited several different organizations related to Norwegian jazz.

Oslo, March 12–16
I started my trip at Østnorsk Jazzsenter in Oslo where I was welcomed by executive Kari-Grete Jacobsen and project manager Audun Ellingsen. Their office was located on the same floor as several other cultural organizations, just as ours is back in Stockholm. Sweden and Norway are simular in many ways and one of my goals with the staff exchange was to get a better picture of how the Norwegian jazz infrastructure is organized and to look especially at how they work with children and jazz – an area we aim to improve in Sweden.

Norsk Jazzforum and Jazzsenter
In Norway they have Norsk Jazzforum wich is most simular to Riksförbundet Svensk Jazz where I work. Jazzforum work a lot woth cultural policy issues. In addition to Jazzforum there are five freestanding regional organizations: Østnorsk, Sørnorsk, Nordnorsk, Vestnorsk and Midtnorsk Jazzsenter. Theese organizations work mainly with productions and with a large focus on musicians, ensembles children and live music in order to spread new, Norwegian music both nationally and internationally.
Østnorsk Jazzsenter among other things operate two youth big bands and a vocal ensamble and are aiming to start up even one more youth big band. They also assist musicians in the process of writing applications. I was told of I nice project focusing on children were jazzstandards were translated and given new lyrics in Norwegian. They were then arranged for childrens choir and jazz ensemble. This project has toured around Norway and seems tom e to be a nice way to introduce children to great old songs that they never get in contact with on the radio or in every day life.

Nasjonal jazzscene
I visited Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene and was introduced to the organization by Line Juul, one of two producers at Nasjonal Jazzscene. She told me about the every day work and how the program is organized through out the year. During mid-augist until the end of June Victoria host concerts four evenings a week. They focus mainly on established Norwegian and international acts, but also provide a scene for upcoming artists. I spent one evening at Victoria. The venue was this night visited by a jazzensemble from the Acadamy of Music in Trondheim. I spent the afternoon and early evening together with a concert host and volonteers (mainly university students), preparing the venue and making sure that the soundcheck went well. I must say that everything was very well organized and that quite a big crowd came to see the concert. Victoria provides Oslo with a big amount of great jazz, and it was nice to see such a well organized place with so many volonteers working based on their interest for music.

During my visit at Nasjonal Jazzscenes office I participated in a meeting where Jazzsenter and a group of musicians had an idea for a project that could help newly graduated jazzmusicians. The idea wa sto provide a place where a group of musicians could meet and work with new compositions. After graduating from the Acadamy of music it isn’t an easy job to actually get a career started. If Victoria could provide the space and backline for practice that could be a great plattform for continued work and developement. Nasjonal Jazzscene liked the idea and it seemed that an agreement could be made in the near future. Since the venue is empty a lot during daytime Line and her colleague didn’t see a problem opening it for musicians to practice.
Attitude is everything!
I was told of a Norwegian project for increased accessibility. Increased accessibility is a necessity for some, but for everyone’s benifit. The project urge organizations to create an action plan and then apply the action plan. The plan is that this in the long run will enable the opportunity to accessibility tag arrangements. More information about this is to be fond through www.norwegianfestivals.com
Bergen, March 17–22
After a few days in Oslo it was time for me to get on the train and go west to Bergen, a city where i actually lived for a few years in the late 80’s. I was welcomed at Vestnorsk Jazzsenter by executive Nina Torske and project manager Audun Humberset. Vestnorsk Jazzsenter share their office space with Nattjazz and Bergen Big Band – they say that the corridor houses Bergens collective jazz industy. Vestnorsk Jazzsenter have mainly musician members and have a producing roll. Also they operate ensembles and big bands and produce a lot of concerts and tours.

The days in Bergen where quite calm due to some illness and the upcoming festival in Voss. So I spent some time working with Svensk Jazz, but from a norwegian office. I took part in a few meetings and felt the vibe of the Bergen jazz corridor.

Voss, March 23-25
I arrived in Voss, a small village in the mountains about one and a half hours train ride from Bergen, in the afternoon to take part in Vossa Jazz. This festival has been going on since 1973. The festival is a matter of concern for the whole of Voss, something that was very clear from the start. There where signs and posters everywhere, peolpe talking about the festival, musicians playing and full activity at the main venues.

Music for children
I started off by joining a rehearsal with the group Cinclus Cinclus. This group is quite new and is put together through a collaboration between Vestnorsk Jazzsenter and Jazz North in England. The group provide concerts for children, not with childrens music, but with an open attitude and free improvisation. They are prepared for children to participate in the music making. Every concert is different and you never know what will happen and how the children and parents will react and interact with the music. It was obvious that the four musicians had different musical backgrounds and that they were still searching to find that clear communication. A lot of very interesting things happened and I looked forward to seeing the concert with an audience. I met Nigel Slee from Jazz North and had an interesting discussion about Europe Jazz Balance and the challenges we all face when it comes to equality and inclusion. It is interesting to hear how things have developed in England, Sweden and other countries over the past ten to fifteen years.

After the rehearsal we discussed the question ”Jazz for children – what is that?” What in the music or in the experience of the music attracts children? The musicians spoke of curiousity and communication. The music doesn’t have to be written for children, but the musicians must be open to what happens during the concert and interact with the audience. The actual concert with Cinclus Cinclus was quite different from the rehearsal.

Many children in the audience wanted to participate and play, explore the instruments and move around. I understand that the situation is challenging for musicians and I was very impressed by the professionalism of the musicians. I will keep an eye on this band, I hope they continue on and refine their concept.

Vossa Jazz
During the festival I saw several very nice concerts and had rewarding exchanges with other visitors. My main impression is that the festival management and all volonteers were very dedicated in making a great festival. The concerts were very well-attended and the programme was varied with borth Norwegian and international high-performing acts.