“Completely surreal”. Article in Farsunds Avis May 23rd 2009 with appendix from June 20th 2009

Article posted on www.farsunds-avis.no 23.05. 2009.
Written by Anders Fjellestad.

Link to original article: http://www.farsunds-avis.no/artikkel.asp?Artid=45022

Found and translated by Marianne Saietz.
English revision by Anni Jowett

Alexander Rybak achieved the victory of all time in the Eurovision Song Contest last weekend. But the Grand Prix-hero  has also had many performances behind him in our area. Photo Indrek Galetin. ( EBU).

The friends about Alexander:
“Completely surreal!”

Last weekend, Alexander Rybak fiddled himself into the hearts of all Europe. We have talked to three people, who are close to the super-talent.

With the Stanghelle family, Alexander Rybak has been a steady summer guest in Spind. Here, he wrote songs. Here he fell in love, and here, he gave some of his first concerts. We have looked through our archives and present you with some glimpses from our local memories of the Grand Prix-winner, all the way back from the first concert in Espeland Schoolhouse July 1996.

— “Alexander charmed everybody with his fiddle and became the big favourite of the audience”, Farsunds Avis wrote about the concert in 1996. And last weekend, all of Europe saw the talent, that we have enjoyed for many years.

Natasja and Alexander Rybak with Turid Stanghelle at the stairs of  Husan in 2001.
Photo: Emma Lind

We have talked to 3 people, who are close to Alexander Rybak.

Thomas Stanghelle:

— ” It is completely surreal, to be a part of this experience, when we have worked together, since he was 5 years old” – says Thomas Stanghelle.  He and his family became quickly acquainted with the Rybak-family at Nesodden. It grew into friendship and a musical collaboration.

— “It is strange, but also funny to see how he, in a short time, has had his life turned upside down because of Melodi Grand Prix. We feel it ourselves, because people are coming to us to congratulate”, he says. Alexander Rybak played “Fairytale” to Thomas already before Christmas. – ” I said, that this is going to win it all. I believed in victory all the time and felt it was strange, that so many had doubts in advance”, says Stanghelle, who watched the final on TV at home in Kristianssand.

Spind is a creative base to both Stanghelle and Rybak and it was also in Spind, Alexander fancied a girl, who ended up as the song “Fairytale”. In July, Stanghelle will give concert with Alexander Rybak at Kristianssand Cathedral.

Alexander Rybak in action at Spind church. Summer 2001.
Photo: Else Marie Abrahamsen.

— “There will be more collaborative events in the future and maybe some concerts in the Farsund/Lyngsdal-area. I hope, he can manage to get it squeezed in – if not this year, then at least next year”, says Stanghelle and adds: ” It is weird to read, that the press writes ” Alexander the great”. To us, he will always be the little boy, we call Sasha. It is almost, that one has to pinch one-self in the arm, but very funny” , says Stanghelle.

Torgny Farbrot:

Through a row of summer concerts, the doctor has got acquainted with Alexander Rybak. ” First time I saw him, was at the concert at Espeland Schoolhouse in 1996″, says Farbrot, who was glued to the TV-screen last Saturday.

— ” I was convinced, he would win, but one can never know. The victory in Moscow was just as crushing as in the Norwegian final”, says Farbrot. He praises the parents, Igor and Natasja and the Stanghelle family, who have meant a lot for the career of Alexander Rybak. ” He is a unique musician with strong musical roots. He has also received an amazing support from his parents and the Stanghelles” , says Farbrot.

I knew, he would win, says Torgny Farbrot, who has been on stage with Rybak and Stanghelle a number of times. 

Photo: Tom Arild Støle

He has had the pleasure himself, to stand on the same stage as Rybak and has always carried a strong belief in the violin-hero. “It is incredibly great, that he manages to combine the classical with that which goes straight into the hearts of all Europe. I have always thought, he can go as far as he wants”, says Farbrot.

Concert at the Youth-house in Spind, summer 1997. Thomas Stanghelle (20) with a 11-year-old Alexander Rybak.“Two names, one should mark oneself”, wrote the foreseeing journalist of the newspaper.  Photo: Karen Marie Frøsland Nystøyl.

Turid Stanghelle:

Turid Stanghelle, originally from Lyngdal, has known the Rybak family since they arrived in Norway. Through the years, they have developed a warm and close friendship and they have had a number of concerts together.

” We discovered him first and I find it strange, that nobody else discovered him earlier”,  Turid Stanghelle laughs.
She remembers very well, the first times Alexander stood on a stage, like during the “Lillesand-days”. “He was so wonderful as he stood there. We announced, that the little boy would play violin and people expected, probably, that he would do the scales. Instead, he took off with pieces of up to 10 minutes without note-sheet. People dropped their jaws”, she says.

At the time of the final last weekend, she and the family were on a long-planned trip to Utah, USA. ” We watched the final via an incredibly slow internet with choppy picture. In contradiction to many others, we had great pleasure from listening to Synnøve Svabø, because she told what we could not see. We cried, laughed, applauded and toasted in champagne, when he won”, she tells.

She is not surprised, that Alexander went to the top of the Eurovision Song Contest.
— ” He is special with a special personality. You hear it in the way, he answers the journalists. The answers are both witty and intelligent. He is skilled with his violin and expresses himself well in singing. In addition, he has a lot of charm and all the other, that is required”, she says.

Here is Alexanders”Fairytale”. Ingrid Berg Mehus was the big love of Alexander and the background of the winning-song. Here, they are photographed together in Spind in the summer 2003. The others on the picture are Turid Stanghelle, Thomas Stanghelle and Natasja Rybak.
Foto: Svein Morten Havaas

In the future, there will be a number of concerts for Turid Stanghelle with, among others,  the son Thomas and the mother, Mathilde Marker. In addition, there is a concert with, among others, Alexander Rybak in Kristianssand July 29th. “We have held many concerts in several countries and have a very long musical C.V. together. Natasja Rybak and I see each other daily and we feel as one big family. One gets carried away and happy. He got points from all countries. It is wild”, she says.

We jump on the wagon and congratulate on the great victory in the Eurovision Song Contest and hope for more concerts with the fiddle-hero in our district in the future.

Last years winner, Dima Bilan, hands over the victory-trophee to Alexander Rybak. Next to him stands the very first winner of the competition from 1956, Lys Assia. The hosts, Alsou and Ivan Urgant watches.
Photo: Indrek Galetin (EBU)


Alexander Rybak: Born in Minsk, Belarus in 1986. Moved to Nesodden as 4-year old.
The parents, Igor and Natasja became quickly acquainted with the Stanghelle family and started a wide-spread musical collaboration. Turid Stanghelle is from Lyngdal and the family has a cabin in Spind. Both the Stanghelle and Rybak familes have spent a number of summers at the cabin and given a row of concerts at community-houses and churches in our district.

Alexander Rybak (23) broke through with victory in NRK- ” Kjempesjansen” in 2006 and turned the country upside down with the all-time most outstanding MGP-victory in February. Last Saturday, he won the Eurovision Song Contest with the strongest victory of all times and, almost, top-scores from east, south, west and north.

Said about Rybak:

“He is very charming. I would like to have him in one of my musicals”. – Musical-king Andrew Lloyd Webber to NRK
“He is a Norwegian soul with a Russian mind. He is the natural superstar” – Russias pop-emperor Filipp Kirkorov to NRK.
” It is extra delightful, that a guy who  immigrated from Belarus with his family has achieved this. It is a fantastic PR for Norway.” – Prime minister of Norway,  Jens Stoltenberg to NTB.

Concert at the Youth-house in Spind, summer 1997. “Alexander Rybak” is a name, one should mark one-self for the future” – the newspaper wrote. Photo: Karen Marie Frøsland Nystøyl*



In the article “Completely surreal” above is mentioned a “foreseeing journalist”, who after the summer-concert in Spind 1997,  proclaimed that Alexander Rybak was: “a name, one should mark one-self for the future”.

Tessa Lande found a later article, written in June 2009 by the same “Foreseeing Journalist”. In this article, she brings, perhaps,  the first interview ever made with Alexander Rybak, when he was 11 years old. We bring an excerpt from the article.

The article was posted 20.6.09 on www.farsund-avis.no

Written by Karen Marie Frøsland Nystøyl

Link to original article: http://www.farsunds-avis.no/artikkel.asp?Artid=46384

Found by Tessa Lande.
Translated by Tessa Lande and Marianne Saietz.
English revision by Anni Jowett


…………” Everybody in the editing-team of Culturenews-P2 roared with laughter. They laughed at me. I had just told them about my meeting with Alexander Rybak, in the summer 12 years ago.

And just to reveal it from the start: It was I who was the, so-called, ” foreseeing journalist” of Farsunds Avis, who after a summerconcert at Spind in 1997, proclaimed in the newspaper, that ” This is a name, one should mark one-self for the future”. The statement was about the violinist Alexander Rybak – 11 years old and quite charming, according to “the foreseeing”.

But back to the summer- days 12 years ago (this was written in 2009). I did a short interview with the aspiring young man. “The foreseeing” had the following to report:

-“I play violin and guitar, and piano, accordion, recorder, mandolin and balalaika. But I do not practise on all these instruments”, he smiles.
– “I like the guitar and violin best. Preferably I want to be a pop musician”,  Alexander says.

There is undoubtedly a lot of hours of hard training behind what we heard in Spind yesterday.

– “Previously I practised three hours a day. Then it was an hour and a half each day. And now … I have vacation”, says Alexander, who finds it great fun to play.

Towards my colleagues of the Culturenews, I stuck stubbornly, through the waves of laughter, to the opinion, that they would be wise to use me as a critic. Already as an eighteen- year- old,  I knew what the future would bring. Who knows where Alexander Rybak would be today without my, solely positive, review?……..

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