Folkelarm is a folk-music convention and industry-gathering which will take place, for the second time, in the end of September. The chosen venue must be among the most “urban” in the country, “The factory” in Oslo’s chic Grünerløkka neighbourhood, and this testifies to folk-music’s determination to scope wider than its traditional following and reach new audiences. –The same considerations that actually led to the establishment of the festival last year.
Frode Rolandsgard, who leads the project, sheds some light on the event:
“What instigated Folkelarm is the difficulty that Norwegian folk musicians tend to experience in terms of getting attention and exposure in Europe. And for a long time it has also been hard to get slots at domestic festivals. What has been lacking is simply a means of presenting folk music to a more general public, home and abroad.
“The Norwegian folk music scene is in a process of staggering development,” he continues, “young musicians are interacting with different genres to an unprecedented degree. This is partially due to the setting-up of institutions such as music colleges, where young musicians learn to transcend traditional boundaries of expression and experiment more than before.
Collaboration across genre-delimitations is then something they keep up later in their careers.
Young musicians generally approve experimentation, whilst those of the elder generation usually are more sceptical.”
“This is a type of development we need to embrace if we want folk music in this country to survive, says Rolandsgard, who characterizes the folk-scene as somewhat introvert. There is no doubt that the will to preserve has been greater than that to experiment. Such thinking means that our folk-musical heritage has been well taken care of, but at the same time, that it has been rather more difficult to bring out to the wider public. I think we are approaching a much better balance between these priorities now.”
As pointed out, the weight of this resolve to create new music by traditional ways can be traced to the educational institutions throughout the country. And along with the increased level of professionalism in folk music, it has become evident that the scene is in want of a gathering point of the king that Folkelarm aims to constitute.
Last year’s inaugural event was described as “the most important happening in folk music for years.”This year’s edition delineates an event about to find its distinctive function. And it pertains to the great width that Norwegian folk music presently manifests, and beyond it, to the international scene. Folkelarm 2006 displays an extended international profile: The European Forum of Worldwide Music Festivals (EFWMF) will gather, artists and industry representatives from three Nordic countries will be represented and The Nordic committee of folk music will arrange several meetings. Rolandsgard claims that there is too little collaboration between the Nordic countries. Folkelarm aims to remedy this:
“Last year we had ample representation from the Norwegian industry, but were rather lacking in international presence. Since EFWMF are hosting their annual gathering as well as arranging seminars at this year’s event, we have taken the opportunity to present a wider, unified Nordic profile, which outside of the Nordic region appears as fairly homogenous anyway.
And amidst all this talk and commotion there will of course be plenty of music. The Factory will host two stages, showcasing more than 40 artists. Among them are Adjagas, Frigg, Majorstuen, Spindel, Kvarts, Mattisgard/Røine, Camilla Granlien band, Unni Løvlid ensemble and Tindra.
Across the road from the factory there will also be an acoustic stage, with more hushed noise levels and several performances for children.
There will in other words be ample opportunity to experience folk music in a plethora of forms, from the whole of Norway and with prominent appearances from leading Nordic artists.
Frode Rolandsgard, Project Manager