Most of the time, the city’s backdrop is the glacial quiet of the mountains, but music, one is frequently reminded, is very much a part of its heritage. So, Bergen is the Norwegian music paradise.
Bergen is one of the most urban cities in Norway and serves as the present-day hotspot for producing much of Norway’s contemporary music. Many internationally renowned musicians have hailed from this area, just to mention a few: Kings of Convenience, Kygo and Aurora Aksnes, each with more than 24 million plays on Spotify.
Norway’s greatest composer, Edvard Grieg (1843-1907), and virtuoso violinist Ole Bull, were both Bergeners. The Grieghallen concert hall is renowned as the home of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, founded in 1765, and for the annual Bergen International Music Festival, Norway’s oldest such event, held every May-June.
Though the city only has around 300,000 residents, Bergen stands above most other Norwegian cities in number of musicians. Bergen offers a lot of cultural events where artists can perform to share their music with people who are interested. Residents are invited to either participate on stage or in the audience so that rising musical talent is discovered. Establishments such as Garage, USF Verftet, Café Opera, and Lille Ole Bull often support these opportunities with live shows. Informal jam sessions are common and allow people of different ages and backgrounds to come together in the celebration of music.
Rock and indie bands
Many Bergen rock and indie bands have gathered a pan-European fan base: Ralph Myerz & the Jack Herren Band, Røyksopp, Kurt Nilsen and Sondre Lerche, to name a few.
The music scene is also made accessible to as many as possible. Places like Kvarteret, a university cultural center run by volunteers, is known for organizing musical events that cater to student budgets. They offer students discounted entry at concerts, along with attractive prices for drinks and food. This student bar and other places around the city are doing well to promote new Norwegian music to young crowds and are getting financial support from the local municipality.
On the more traditional side, the Buekorps brigade is an organization for the 10-20-year-old boys (and girls, since the 1990s), easily recognized by their natty tunics and tasseled tam-o’-shanter caps. The brigade march in formation in the Annual Constitution Day parade 17 May.
Opportunities and events like these throughout Bergen are undoubtedly contributing to the rising and continued success of “Bergenser” musicians being recognized throughout the country and the world. Bergen’s artists are bringing people together, creating unforgettable memories, indescribable moments, uncontrolled feelings, love at first sight, and true friendships.
Bergen – The Norwegian Music Paradise, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top) © Bergenfest – Visit Bergen.