Matt Robinson makes Norwegian connections.
I'm currently working on a brand new avant-garde jazz / kids project with the amazing Lancaster based Norwegian cellist Maja Bugge. On the back of a series of rehearsals and test concerts came an invite from across the North Sea to meet some of the musicians, lawmakers, and academics that make up an exciting emerging community music sector in Norway.
So, on a clear, bright, and crisp Monday morning (after a Sunday spent worrying about bass clarinets in transit) 30 people came together in an old sardine factory to talk in two languages about social change, therapy, art and music, community.
We had presentations, we rolled about on the floor playing games, we argued over pepper soup. All in a beautiful room overlooking the fjord where on occasion massive ships would casually drift by the window obscuring the sun in a not at all distracting way.
I told stories about the town where I grew up and where I work.
About the beautiful scenery and people, about teenagers drinking on the promenade on weeknights back in the day, about friends, foodbanks, fried fish.
About Chinese Orchestras in Northern seaside towns, about best friends in samba bands, about teenagers from difficult backgrounds finding their place in the world and making amazing music that is beautiful and truthful.
About the pedagogy and the vision behind what I, what More Music, does. A place, a way of working, that aims to build confidence in people using the power of music to transform people's lives. Community Music facilitated by a great team that I know can change lives and most certainly changed mine.
Norwegian Music Education appears to be in a time of change. Old wide-reaching projects closing to make way for new ideas, new approaches. Questions about artistic excellence, employment routes for prospective community musicians, tangible measured and defined benefits of the work.
Who is it for?
Who runs it?
How to they make a living?
How do you know it's good?
There is a deep commitment to academic research and planning. All of which is great.
For me, I feel like I would like to meet and play and sing with the people talked about, to learn from them, to create things, to talk more over milky cups of lukewarm tea in a community centre somewhere. Community Music activity certainly happens but in pockets. For now there are mainly words, lectures to have, degrees to be gained, ideas to form into projects, seemingly great budgets being assigned.
There is a deep passion in the room that feels untapped. A group on the cusp of making something truly extraordinary if they can just work out how to get that one last piece to fit.
If the next two days goes well creating new experimental music for 5 year olds then I should be back in March. Hopefully to see projects both old and brand new and to just maybe create some music with some new found groups.