FROM SEA TO MOUNTAIN IN NORTH HORDLAND
ARNE HØYLAND CONCERT SERIES COMPLETED-FOR NOW
As I reflect on five evenings of concerts north of Bergen with the music theatre production “Frå hav til fjell i Nordhordland» (From Sea to Mountain in North Hordland) from September 13th-17th, 2023 in Leiknes, Austrheim, Hosteland in Masfjorden, Fotlandsvåg and Seim, this project grew into a life of its own. I admit it demanded many hours behind the scenes with energy, patience and focus throughout the process going into arranging, organizing and creating each rehearsal and performance. But to be a part of a district project promoting original music, people and culture in a country that has become home for me since 2004 was both an education and a pleasure, as I gained the chance to learn more about this regional culture, history and the people who humbly and unselfishly made an impact on others in their daily lives.
As with any worthwhile endeavour, it had its humble beginnings. Many steps needed to be taken with many hands involved to make the project a success. This list, in no particular order, includes, but is not restricted to:
-Discussions on the project between Arne Høyland and Petter Lexander before January 2022.
-Asking interested parties to be involved in such a project shortly afterwards.
-Register and establish a new non profit organization (Nordhordland musikkteater) as a way of planning and presenting all concerts so sponsors and grant agency support could happen.
-Proceeding to secure sponsors and apply for grants.
-Get assistance from a local high school graphic design class to create a logo for the organization.
—Take a sample of the over 100 original songs Arne has composed to date and had released earlier on YouTube with simple vocals, photos and an acoustic guitar for performance consideration.
-Select 30 songs of Arne Høyland notated to build the foundation for future work with the project.
-Work out band arrangements so songs could be selected.
-Assemble a tentative playlist.
-Appoint a musical director for a project that would be spread over the northern part of the Bergen region at the composer’s request.
-Ensure all the songs were registered with the right organizations to receive paid royalties for future airplay, recording and performance.
-Ask the Alvidt-Manger Singers to be background vocalists.
-Audition soloists and recruit a stage band for the concerts.
-Set up a Facebook page for the organization.
—Plan a PR strategy and use it to its fullest effect.
-Create arrangements for background vocals the choir would sing.
-Create and proofread a songbook for sale that would also double as a permanent written record of local oral history, cultural activity and local creativity.
—Find an artist who could create pictures that would help describe the stories of the songs in the music book.
-Find someone to create stage characters and drama skits between songs for the shows.
—Arrange an order of songs so the concert could tell a local cultural story as seamlessly as possible.
-Create promo videos and posters.
-Write press releases and create articles for local media.
-Create concert videos and collect pictures for each song where possible in video and PowerPoint presentations.
-Record rehearsal tracks for the choir from the basement of our house.
-Record the band parts for practice at Jon Martin Skauge’s recording studio.
-Discover together with Jon Martin in his recording studio that creating a CD with the music book was possible and positive for all.
-Arrange for concert venues and local organizations to support the hosting of each performance.
Set up a marketing plan for selling concert tickets, the music book and the CD with this project.
I apologize in advance if I have missed anything or anyone else in this list. But what I can say is that it was wise for all from the start to allow one year and nine months to plan everything thoroughly and be flexible with the moving parts of planning until everything was in place.
Although I have had a few guest stage band appearances on the country music side and the rock n’roll side, I seldom perform in stage bands as per this article. What little experience I’ve had in this musical setting was needed as my musical foundation; not only in its entirety, but as a reference so this skill could be developed and built on. I’m the first to admit that playing in a stage band is a different art and skill compared to the solo accompaniment I do in the fiddle world or with singers in choir and church settings where I’m usually the only accompanist and cover the musical essentials; bass lines, chords, melodies and notated arrangements when needed. The skill set in band playing requires the following from a musician: Learn where you play lines in the musical holes when the singer isn’t singing, be willing to experiment with improvisation, let others take their turns to do the same, let other musicians take the lead while you play in the background, and with everyone on stage, everyone accompanies the lead soloist as they do their job. What I can say after this project is that I still have more to learn about playing in a stage band, but thanks to the other musicians around me, they filled in the blanks for me and helped me build on what others gave me earlier. For this, I am thankful for everyone’s support from years ago to the present.
The end result is that we were told we had a show that could easily go on the road for future performances if desired. We received positive feedback in person from the audiences we played for and positive reviews from three local newspapers. The organizing committee for these concerts has received requests from other communities to book future performances. Decisions on these requests will be made in the coming weeks. For those who are interested, the music book in hard copy is available for sale (kr 350,-/book) as well as the CD (kr 250,-/copy). Direct payments can be made in Norway via the VIPPS payment platform. International orders and other inquiries can be made by contacting me via trentbruner(@)hotmail.com.
I’ll have more music news in the coming weeks as my work schedule returns to normal in Norway. Until next time, thanks to Petter, Jarle, Olvar, Jon Martin, Tore, Anveig, Else Iren, Bjørn Tore, Rune, Ben, Ole, Alvidt-Manger, all sponsors and grant agencies, our venue hosts, assisting organizations, our audiences, and to Arne and Rigmor Høyland for the support and inspiration. See you somewhere down the musical trail!
Musically yours, Trent