The Norwegian National Youth Orchestra

100 of Norway's most talented music students interpret Stravinsky's bold musical drama Petrusjka, a work that presents extreme challenges.

The musicians in The Norwegain National Youth Orchestra are 100 of the country's most talented and proficient music students. The orchestra is considered to be one of the best of its kind and aims to be recognized as one of leading youth orchestras in Europe.

The orchestra plays under top international conductors and with acclaimed international soloists, it has toured worldwide and participates regularly in well-known classical festivals in Europe. Now it comes to Olav's Festival, where it will play in Olavshallen on Thursday 1. August.

The orchestra was started in 1973 by Karsten Andersen, Leif Jørgensen and Harry Kvebæk. It was at that time the only opportunity which Norwegian music students had to play the great symphonic works in a full-size orchestra. The Youth Orchestra is still the last important step in of the education of both Norwegian and other young international musicians, and constitutes the main source of recruitment for the country's professional orchestras. Today about half of Norway's professional orchestral musicians have participated in the programme, and several of the present members are actually second generation participants.

The concert will be a run-up to the opening concert of the Elverum Festival on Friday 2. August. For almost 40 years, the National Youth Orchestra and the Elverum Festival have formed a symbiosis. The festival was established in 1974 with origins in the orchestra. Ever since the start, the orchestra has arranged summer courses in Elverum, and many more than a few
sweethearts, lifelong relationships and imusical constellations that have arisen. The orchestra gives both the opening and closing concert of the festival, in addition to a popular mid-week concert and several chamber concerts.

Since February 2017, Johannes Gustavsson has been artistic director of the National Youth Orchestra. He is known for his energy, charisma, elegance and sensitivity – qualities that have made him very much in demand as a conductor for both symphony orchestras and operas in the Nordic countries and abroad. He works regularly with all the major orchestras in his home country Sweden, including the Royal Philharmonic in Stockholm, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. In Norway he conducts Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra and the Norwegian Radio Orchestra.

The orchestra has four productions annually, made up of seven to ten concerts and attract large audience. In recent years, it has played with conductors and soloists such as Juanjo Mena, Vasily Petrenko, Christian Vásquez, Andrew Manze, Eliahu Inbal, Leif Ove Andsnes, Truls Mørk, Solveig Kringlebotn, Håkan Hardenberger, Barbara Hendricks, Henning Kraggerud, Håvard Gimse, Arve Tellefsen, , Elisabeth Nordberg-Schulz and Ole Edvard Antonsen.


Lutoslawski's Cello Concerto

This work was originally commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society in London for the famous cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. It had its premiere in 1970, and is considered one of Lutoslawski's best known works. The orchestra's own soloist, Torleif Thedéen, has even played Lutoslawski Cello Concerto for the composer himself!

Torleif Thedéen is one of the most famous present day Scandinavian musicians. He gained international recognition already in 1985 after winning three of the world's most prestigious cello competitions. Since then, he has played regularly with some of the most famous orchestras in the world, including the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, the Wiener Symphony Orchestra, Israel Sinfonietta and the Tokyo Metropolitan Orchestra. Since 2017, he was been a professor at the Norwegian School of Music in Oslo as well as at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm.

Stravinskij: Petrusjka

Igor Stravinsky went on holiday to Switzerland where he wanted to write a piano concerto. The ballet director Sergej Djaghilev was impressed when he heard the work and recognised its great potential as ballet music.
As he composed, Stravinsky imagined a doll which came to life and he wanted this character to come to the foreground in the music. The story tells of a magician who brings three dolls to life for his mini theatre: The sad clown Petrusjka, a ballerina and a rival to the clown. Gradually, the magician loses control of the dolls and they begin to live lives of their own. Petrusjka was first performed in Paris in 1911 and is a timeless tragedy packed with love, jealousy and plans of revenge. It presents the young musicians with significant instrumental and tonal challenges.