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Lars Petter Hagen begins his tenure in Bergen

With ample time before the 70th Bergen International Festival, the new Artistic Director and Chief Executive sets to work.

Lars Petter Hagen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift
Lars Petter Hagen. Photo: Thor Brødreskift

In late January, it was announced that Lars Petter Hagen (b. 1975) would become the Bergen International Festival’s new Artistic Director and Chief Executive. Making a head start this spring, Hagen spent some time working for the festival before stepping into the full-time position on 01 May.

‘It is terrific to finally be here, says Lars Petter Hagen, whose résumé includes composer, curator, author and cultural director of a number of organisations.

‘I have bought a small apartment on Nygårdshøyden that I have just moved into and will spend as much time in Bergen as possible. A large part of this job is about meeting people and seeking out creative environments in Bergen, but also elsewhere in Norway and abroad, says the festival director.

A universe of its own

Hagen intends to use the coming weeks and festival period between 25 May and 08 June to become better acquainted with the different aspects of running the Bergen International Festival.

‘I view myself as kind of an apprentice and plan to take shifts as a driver, volunteer and ticket seller, among other things. And I am, of course, looking forward to experiencing a wide-ranging festival programme on many of Bergen's beautiful stages, he says.

“In a way, the festival becomes its own universe”
Lars Petter Hagen

It is still too early to talk about the new director’s future plans for the festival.

‘One of the things I really like about the festival format is how the different events in the programme illuminate each other. In a way, the festival becomes its own universe with its own logics and connections for the audience to discover. Classical music is the festival’s starting point and forms the core of its programme, but tradition and innovation are closely linked. For tradition to be able to develop, it must be continuously challenged and understood in new ways, says Hagen.

Making music to clear the mind

The new Artistic Director and Chief Executive arrives from his recent positions as head of development at the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and council leader at Arts Council Norway. He is the former director of the Ultima Festival, Nordic Music Days and the organisation Ny Musikk.

As a composer, Hagen has written works for some of the world's leading orchestras and ensembles. He has, among other things, won the Arne Nordheim Composer's Prize and two Spellemann awards. He aims to continue to create music – at least on occasion.

‘I have not had all the time in the world to compose in recent years, but there have been one or two works a year. I continuously have commissioned works and projects in progress, and I hope to be able to continue making music. I believe the fact that I am also an active artist is a strength in my work as festival director. It provides me with different perspectives and networks, and for me, it is a way to clear my mind – a form of meditation, says the director.

Culture equals community

Hagen has visited the Bergen International Festival several times before and has many good individual experiences from the festival.

“The Festival is a very good example of how culture equals community”
Lars Petter Hagen

‘But I must highlight the great atmosphere in the city that you notice as soon as you arrive! The Bergen International Festival is extraordinary; it is something different from everyday life, something different from what happens during the rest of the year. A lot of good forces come together, and the Festival is a very good example of how culture equals community, says Hagen.

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