Collaboration, compromise, creativity – how these musicians create magic across cultures
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 540 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
Norway’s annual Førde Festival of Traditional and World Music held a scaled-down live version this time due to pandemic restrictions. See Part I, Part II and Part III of our coverage, as well as earlier highlights from the 2016 edition.
The festival was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, and a limited local edition was held this year. Featured bands, based in Norway, included Mambo Companeros, Camilla Granlien, Kajsa Balto, Ku Meelodi, Tindra, Riid, Kartellet, and Kvedarkvintetten.
“The audience was just happy to be able to attend a real festival again,” explains Torill Faleide, Festival Communication Manager, in a chat with YourStory.
“Some of the audience were really surprised by the diversity and quality of artistes – since none of them crossed any borders to attend the festival this year. It’s amazing how diverse the Norwegian music scene has become, and it became very clear this year,” she proudly says.
The theme of the festival is mostly decided by the artistic director and the festival staff. “In the earlier history of the festival the theme was often of a geographical character, but some years back, we shifted to actuality,” Torill says.
The festival is renowned for its “unique music in unique surroundings.” Førde is a small town on the western coast of Norway, 150 km north of Bergen – surrounded by stunning fjords, mountains, glaciers and waterfalls.
Ole Andre Farstad, leader of the band Meelodi, shares some lyrics from their previous album, featuring the poems of Omar Khayyam. The track Kolli begins with the following verse:
Come, my friend, let’s forget the cares of tomorrow
And instead enjoy this moment of our life.
The caravan of life is fast on the march;
Seize your moment of fun, for it is a carnival.
Members of the band include Syrian singer Nawar Alnaddaf, percussionist Snorre Bjerck, jazz legend Per Jørgensen, and bassist Anders Bitustøyl.
“We were so delighted by the feedback from the audience! Everyone was saying that we had a 'dream team' of musicians with us, and indeed we did,” exclaims fiddle player and composer Sarah-Jane Summers, who had earlier formed a duo with Juhani Silvola.
“It was even more special to have so many musicians on stage – thirteen – during the corona pandemic. ‘Amazing’ was a word that was repeated several times by people whose eyes were shining brightly with joy,” she adds.
“It was a true delight to get such wonderful feedback and to feel that we had contributed such positivity to so many during the pandemic,” Sarah-Jane affirms.
Summers and Silvola
However, cross-cultural collaborations do have their challenges as well. “The deep-seated feel of dance rhythms varies widely from country to country, and Scotland and Norway are no exception,” she describes.
“The intricacies of the different rhythms simply can't be felt naturally and deeply in the same way by people from different musical backgrounds, especially if you have never danced to them and there is only a short amount of rehearsal time,” Sarah-Jane cautions.
“Compromise is vital, as with any cross-cultural communication, whether it be linguistic or musical. Something will always be lost in translation but, most importantly, new colours will be gained,” she affirms.
During the rehearsals for the lineup of Sølvstrøk, the goal was simply the best possible result. “That means that everyone needs to feel free to truly go for it, be themselves and throw their soul into the music,” Sarah-Jane recalls.
During the rehearsals, rhythmic intricacies were explained, and everyone worked towards that. “But we didn't worry too much about the tiny details. We embraced the new colours and saw them as enhancing and enriching our music,” she adds.
“We were, after all, extremely lucky to have such truly fantastic musicians to work with on this project. We asked them because we wanted them,” she says.
Sarah-Jane signs off: “What can be better than having their musical expertise and brilliance shine through and enhance our music?”
Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues for your creative core?
Forde Festivalen 2021
Kartellet - 2
Mambo Companero 2
(All images by Førde Festivalen)