Last week was a characteristic mix of travel, frustrations, meetings, political intrigue and great moments. It was wonderful to have composer Orlando Gough here to discuss a possible – and enormous – project for the 2014 Norwegian bi-centenial independence celebrations. Meetings with Festspillene i Bergen, animateur Ole Hamre, Den Nasjonale Scene, the Bergen Philharmonic and Grieghallen´s Eli Versto were exciting – the occasion became more sober when we looked at Grieghallen, and wondered realistically how we could accomodate a vast and diverse tribe of performers, along with the audience.
More excellent discussions in Stavanger, with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra´s dynamic CEO, Trude Marit Risnes – although a veil of sadness hangs over the city after the sudden death of Morten Mølster, the SSO´s chairman and a great and generous light in culture overall.
On a different tack, as a proud Scot, I´m still composing a fierce response to an extraordinary piece in The New Yorker – who surely should know better – on the relationship of the Southern US states to the mainstream political North. Such states, the writer claims, have waning influence, comparable to Scotland´s. He writes “As its political power declines, the South might occupy a place like Scotland’s in the United Kingdom, as a cultural draw for the rest of the country, with a hint of the theme park.“
Statements like these really are as infuriating in their ignorance as in they are in their patronizing arrogance. To compare Scotland to, say, Louisiana, is to compare Norway to Southern Taiwan. Absurd – especially as Scotland´s autonomy, confidence and fiscal stability increases daily. Much discussion on this topic at the Bergen/Scottish Robert Burns Supper on Saturday night, where I met a young man from Skye whose Norwegian job is vaccinating fish, and a highly competent Belgian bagpipe player….
Meanwhile, back in Bergen, as frost and sun give way to grimly familiar rain and gloom, our days are brightened by racks of glorious costumes for Cunning Little Vixen which goes into production next week, and exciting news from Vilnius re co-production of our new Fidelio in November 2013, directed by Oskaras Korsunovas.