Valdres Sommersymfoni and its project “Playing for a Future”

(the following article was provided by Valdres Sommersymfoni and translated from Norwegian to English by Marianne)

Valdres Summer Symphony
Valdres Summer Symphony will be conducted this year for the 17th time. The festival has gained status as the leading summer music school of classical music – with strings, wind-instruments, piano, vocals and, this year, also guitar – and aims to be the place where students are inspired and where dreams are created. There is also a festival where international top-performers meet and work with each other and with the young advanced students.
This makes the Summer Symphony unique in an international context. For several of the country’s leading talents, as Vilde (Frang) Bjerke, Eldbjørg Hemsing, Catharina Chen and Alexander Rybak, Valdres Summer Symphony was their first meeting with a professional musical environment, where important contacts were linked; contacts that later became central to further development. From winter 2009 we also offer courses during the winter.

Nor-Aurdal municipiality is the main seat of the Summer Symphony. We offer concerts in Leira and Fagernes and their surroundings. New from 2009 is a concert collaboration with all Valdres municipalities. Overall, the citizens of Valdres and visitors, could in this summer enjoy 55 concerts in 16 venues in six municipalities – Vang, Øystre and West Slidre, Etnedal and South Aurdal in addition to the host community – in ten days. The audience figure is steadily increasing and in 2009 reached around 9500.

Playing for a Future

Children and young people in Norway are privileged. For those who want to be good on an instrument, there are both private and municipal music schools at an affordable price. In addition, it is possible to go to a summer school and meet others who share the same interest. Already today, Valdres Summer Symphony attracts participants from all over Norway, and increasingly also from other parts of the world. We had in 2009 participants from Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Israel, China, Japan, USA and Peru, Bolivia and South Africa.

For the vast majority, the condition is that they have parents who can pay not only tuition during the year but also the costly trip to the meeting place with like-minded.
For children in poor parts of the world, a dream about getting to experience music as performers, often continues to be a dream. Not only is it expensive with tuition, purchase of instruments may make it impossible at all to try. Valdres Summer Symphony now want to make it possible to share the dream of music with children and young people in poor countries. Our goal is to become an international meeting place for children and young people within the classical music scene, independent of parental financial status.

The project is “Playing for a Future”, launched in 2009 and it was also the year’s most well attended Concert: Alexander Rybak attracted 1400 to Valdres Hall on Midsummer’s eve. He participated as the festival’s first “ambassador” for the project. An ambassador for “Playing for a Future” is a musician who has the potential to aggregate large audiences, and acting free of charge, the revenues go to the project in order to contribute to helping children in poor countries to a better life through music . Alexander will, also in 2010, contribute to the project. Also those seeking admission to the Valdres Summer Symphony, help by paying 200 NOK. from the registration fee that goes directly to the project. We also sell a CD where the proceeds go directly to “Playing for a Future”.

Through “Playing for a Future” we partly wish to provide scholarships to children and young people who otherwise had not managed to get to the Valdres Summer Symphony to take part in “Playing for a Future” Symphony Orchestra. Partly, we want to support local music education projects in poor countries.
As a pilot project, we have established co-operation with the ” Redefine Western Cape Project” in Cape Town in South Africa. The project, led by Ronnie Saamai, collects children from poor areas in and around the city. The children receive free training on an instrument. Ronnie Saamai, who is one of South Africa’s foremost violin teachers, has dedicated his life to helping children and puts countless volunteer hours into working with the children.

Revenues from Alexander Rybak’s concert enabled us to cover the costs of travel and course for Ronnie Samaai, one more teacher and three students from South Africa in 2009. In addition, we could send 60 000 NOK. to the “Redefine Western Cape ” – project. It may sound like a small amount, but it provides huge dividends in South Africa. We could also cover course fees for two students from Bolivia that made the trip paid by the Foundation.

Already this year we are extending the project to include the Palestinian children and young people through a partnership with a music school in Jordan, Vietnamese children through a partnership with the bilateral project Transposition, and children from Brazil through a joint project with the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and the Barratt Due Music Institute.

We received in 2009 a donation of instruments, and with the help of volunteers among the participants in Valdres Summer Symphony that year, we were able to collect partly instrument- boxes and bows, and partly money to buy boxes and bows so that all the 20 instruments were complete when we sent them down. Instrument Maker Urs Wenke-Wolff helped for free, to give all the present-instruments a makeover.
Alexander Rybak attracts a large audience, we can not expect the same level all years, so we are now looking for funding to create a fund that enables us to ensure the progress of the project.
Nor-Aurland municipality owns Valdres Summer Symphony, but the business is financed largely through state and county funding, as well as participation fees.

Geographical area

Valdres Summer Symphony is located primarily on the Leira and Fagernes in Nor-Aurland municipality, but we have activities in the other five Valdres municipalities and from the winter of 2009 also include activities in Oslo during the winter. The project is “Playing for a Future” is designed to help children and young people to a better life through music, whether they live in Norway, or in remote areas.

Why “Playing for a Future” 
Through its high musical level in combination with the width, Summer Symphony contributes strongly to make Valdres and Norway to a unique international meeting place for young people involved in classical music. We want to make expertise available to children and young people from remote areas who do not have own funds. We will simply share our goods with those who have less. It is our firm belief that training in music is an opportunity that can contribute to create values in other areas of life. But we need a sponsor to get the project properly on its feet.

Expected impact

We expect that “Playing for a Future” will be a growing part of the Valdres Sommersymfonies activities. It is already today the part of the festival that is easiest to introduce in the press, partly because of the social momentum, partly due to the ambassadors that will be larger audience magnets than classical musicians in general. We hope that the money the project gathers, can be spread in developing countries, in general will increase the interest in music, but above all to give those affected a better life.

Evaluation Plan
In part, we make each year a comprehensive annual report that describes all of our activities throughout the year and how they are funded, in part, we are already starting in 2010 build a separate publication for “Playing for a Future” to better reach out with the message of this project. In this we will have comprehensive evaluation of what the Center has meant to those who have accepted. All our publications are sent to the cultural politicians in the municipal, county and parliamentary, as well as culture minister.

Article revision by Annijo

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