Alexander Rybak rebelled against classical music-VG newspaper article 7.4.2018

My rebellion was playing jazz

Alexander Rybak about his youthful rebellion

Our Eurovision hope in May would probably not have been where he is at today without his youthful rebellion against classical music.

Source: Paper issue of VG and 07/04/2018. (Online original article HERE)
Text: Stein Østbø, Photos: Mattis Sandblad
Translated by Jorunn Ekre, revision by Anni Jowett.

Saturday night the winner of Melodi Grand Prix, Alexander Rybak (31) is the interval act in NRK’s “Virtuos” which can be described as Eurovision for young soloist talents within classical music. And even if Rybak says he is a 100% classical at heart- it was after all where he began- he is well known for mixing every possible genre outside of the classical music into his music.

– Most people get a rebellious period around the age of 14-15. My rebellion was that I told Mom: “You know what, Mom? I’m willing to practise a bit more, but right now I would like to play some jazz, too.”

They accepted that. Mom and Dad noticed I had a talent, but they didn’t want to have a successful child in classical music at any price, Rybak tells.

His parents are both his best supporters and critics.

– Particularly Mom can a bit like this when I tell her about a new project that she says: “hm, can’t you think this through a bit more?” It’s tough there and then, but it’s correct most of the time. Therefore it was extra wonderful that she gave thumbs up for “That’s How You Write a Song”, he says.

Specially made

Alexander Rybak has composed a piece specially for the TV show Virtuos, which is titled “Jealous”. Thus,the Eurovision contribution is out of the question for this time..

With KORK: This year’s winner of Melodi Grand Prix Alexander Rybak during the rehearsals with Kringkastingsorkesteret (KORK) for “Virtuos” on Saturday. Foto: Mattis Sandblad

– I was asked to perform “That’s How You Write a Song”, but I didn’t think it fits. I like to compose musical numbers especially for the occasion. That was the case with the Melodi Grand Prix song- it fit perfectly when it got the right MGP sound onstage. That’s why I have written the song “Jealous” for “Virtuos” and I am lucky enough to be able to play a little with Kringkastingsorkesteret (KORK), the Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra.

Play-mode is sort of my slogan for this year, in that sense the stars have fallen into place. It’s about playing with ideas, encouraging each other and having fun.

Works with young people

It will also be fun playing with young classical talents, he thinks. “Virtuos” is a contest for soloists under the age of 20, an age group Alexander Rybak himself has worked with for years.

– I have held between 40-50 seminars just in Norway alone, and it has been a great success. I try to show them some tricks, a little choreography and perhaps challenge them to explore different genres. And there’s an enormous amount of talent in this country, at the same time Norway has many people who are very good at taking care of these talents, he thinks.

This week it also became clear that “That’s How You Write a Song” will be going first in the second semi-final during this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon on May 10.

– It’s not an advantage to be the first to perform in the final, but for the semi-final I think it’s just great to get the opportunity to open the show with a bang, says Alexander Rybak.

– I ended the show at Oslo Spektrum and I will open it in Lisbon. I think that’s cool.


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