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20 May - 03 June 2020

The Bergen International Festival turns artists on their heads

Musicians hanging upside down, balcony theatre, rooftop singing and nothing that has any meaning are some of the ingredients of this year's outdoor events during the Bergen International Festival. Artists Ole Hamre and Thea Hjelmeland are at the forefront of the concept OiOi.

Image: Bergmund Waal Skaslien. Photo: Vegard Valde

In a normal year, the Festival’s outdoor programme brings thousands of people together. Of course, rules for infection prevention and control make such gatherings impossible this year. However, the goal is still the same: To give people in the city unexpected artistic experiences that make them stop in their tracks.

During the Bergen International Festival 2020, there will be Soaring Songs, Balcony Theatre, a Peoples Movement at the grocery store, artists who are literally turned on their heads and an event where nothing happens. All projects are part of "OiOi", which stands for experience, immersion, drawing attention and insight. OiOi  was the name of the Festival’s outdoor programme from 2006 to 2009, where Ole Hamre was the project manager (see video). Hamre has artist Thea Hjelmeland onboard for this year's "OiOi".

‘In recent months, the focus has been on all the limitations. We want to look at the opportunities that arise in such a situation, by creating "OiOi corona edition, says Ole Hamre, who is a musician, culture creator and one of the initiators behind Fargespill (Kaleidoscope).

An example of such an opportunity is Soaring Songs, where singers perform from high rooftops and so are able to reach thousands without people having to get close to each other. Many of the events are welcomed reunions with projects that have received a new topicality and deeper resonance this spring. The Peoples Movement looks at how to socially distance in practice, and the project Nothing Is Happening has empty calendars as its basis. "OiOi" will also use the digital arena to reach the audience where they are.

‘We want the OiOi projects to spread joy and reflect the times we live in,’ says Thea Hjelmeland, who also contributes artistically and who last year received brilliant reviews for her album "Kulla".

The Bergen International Festival has recently launched a new programme after all the events that were originally scheduled had to be cancelled in April. More than 50 concerts and performances can be experienced for free from home. A number of new concerts and events in Bergen's famous arenas will be available digitally, and some performances from the previous two years can also be viewed. Together with the outdoor events, the new Bergen International Festival programme is complete. 

‘Experiences in the urban space are some of the things that make the Bergen International Festival what it is. I'm glad we found a safe, and at the same time artistically challenging way to create the outdoor programmes this year. The outdoor programme is a welcomed revisit to past events that are now performed in a way that emphasizes the state of exception we are in today and therefore takes on an important new dimension’, says festival director Anders Beyer. 

The Bergen International Festival 2020 begins on Wednesday, May 20, with an opening concert that is live-streamed from Grieghallen. The Festival programme is free and available through the Festival’s website and social media. With the exception of the outdoor programme and two sail-in concerts, the physical events will not be open to the public.

Facts / The Bergen International Festival

• The Nordic region's largest curated festival for music and performing arts.

• The programme focuses on art music and performing arts.

• The first Bergen International Festival was held in 1953.

• This year's festival takes place from 20 May to 03 June and is mainly digital.

 

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