Music under northern lights

Tromsø has always been one of the best and most beloved locations for tourists and other visitors. Many of them come here to see northern lights, trying to live their dream. But northern lights is not only about aurora borealis dancing in the winter sky. It is also about music. Every New Year in Tromsø starts with world famous music festival Nordlysfestivalen, filling up the air of the city with magic and amusement. Utropia had a fascinating opportunity to talk to its manager, Øyvind Bakkeby Moe, and bring music even closer to its readers.

Text: Anna Dranovska

Music is what my day starts with on my way to school and music is what my day finishes with on my way home from work. It is one of the best things, that can help you enjoy your solitude, and there is hardly anything else, that can give you a bigger feeling of belonging, than taking delight in a shared musical experience.

…I am almost running late for my first interview, with Øyvind Bakkeby Moe, manager of Nordlysfestivalen, and as much as I would love to be a person able to keep deep intellectual conversation about classical music, jazz etc., let’s face it – I am not. The festival begins in some two hours after our meeting and it will be the third time for Øyvind to have the honor of bringing together world’s most talented contemporary musicians and Tromsø’s most appreciative ears. We talk about his way to becoming festival manager, important stages in preparations to upcoming festival, difficulties on the way to earning love of the audience and importance of discovering new as part of music development.

The first thing I realized as we spoke was that the best leaders are those who themselves are led by the voice of their hearts. Just like Øyvind. Simple ability to organize people is not enough – you cannot excel as a manager of a festival if music is not something you have a passion for, something that comes into your life naturally like love for Frank Sinatra’s songs.

We should never stop exploring; and this gets even more important when the questions are about music. It does not matter if you are selecting musicians for upcoming concerts or picking a concert from among numerous options of a rich festival program – it always involves some part of gambling.

Festival preparations start more than a year in advance and, still, you can never know if the artist, whom you, as a manager, find especially fascinating and talented, will meet the same feelings in the listeners’ hearts. Despite this uncertainty, one should never forget how important it is to do new stuff, discover something one never knew before, and introduce it to wider audience. Every small star in the music firmament should be given a chance to be heard, because otherwise music does not get to evolve.

On the other hand, many musically illiterate people (like me) find themselves at a loss when deciding which concert to attend when they do not have a slightest idea about performing artists. People are afraid if they are not sure – and then they choose not to go. But if you never try – you never know.

It is interesting that, as Øyvind says, classical music, jazz and even some modern compositions are considered a more “grown up” thing, with a low number of young people interested in it; which is sad and outrageous, considering the number of opportunities to get familiar with the charming universe of festival music. Many of the concerts are free and all of them have student discounts encouraging young people to come and join. Festivals need our energy that will drive tomorrow. Maybe the next concert will introduce you to a whole new world of blissful pleasure? So another time you have a chance to get a ticket for a festival event, do not hesitate, just go and see. And never stop exploring music!