I’m about half way through a fortnight-long visit to Stavanger in Norway. I’m here as part of an Erasmus-funded exchange project called Arena. The basic aim is to bring students from Salford, Amsterdam and Stavanger together to forge links between the countries. The secondary aim is to play music written by bass player/bandleader Per Zanussi.
So far we’ve been getting to know each other through improvising, deconstructing Beatles tunes and playing some graphic scores (I was in a trio playing this Leafcutter John piece, which threw up some interesting questions). And, of course, some hanging out drinking. Two notable occasions being on Monday, when the £11 per pint of beer added insult to injury of a terrible football game, and Tuesday when we were lucky enough to see Frode Gjerstad Trio performing both a workshop masterclass, and then an incredible set at Galleri Sult. A very inspiring example of what can happen when improvising with the same musicians for a long time.
Speaking of inspiring, this place is amazing! We’re based at Tou Scene, a disused brewery that has been transformed over the last 10/15 years to a thriving arts space, with huge windows meaning you can stare across the sea to the mountains. I’m not ashamed to admit I came over all ECM for a bit, not least because the space we were in is fairly reverberant. And, more so than just Tou Scene, the walk from where we’re staying in Old Stavanger shows a wide range of architecture, all of which could sit happily on the front of any postcard.
Some photos of Tou Scene:
And, of course, the other musicians & tutors. Christophe De Bezenac (him from Trio VD) had us record an improvisation and then listen back, stopping the track each time anyone remembered anything at all about what they were thinking at that point. A very interesting exercise, worth trying if you get the chance!
Here’s some photos of where we are, I’ll post more in a few days, but right now I’ve got to get practising the charts that Per gave us today…
The artist flat where we’re staying:
Wolfram Trio playing in Cafe Humbug, a tiny record shop/cafe/venue:
And here’s tutor Nicholas Katuszonek on the sail boat we sailed: