Talent Norway aims to make Norway a nation of maestros

New initiative aims to improve competency and raise the international profile of conductors

Rasmus Falck

Talent Norway

Photo courtesy of Talent Norway
Maria Mediaas Jørstad of Talent Norway is working to raise the competence and visibility of Norwegian conductors, nationally and internationally.

“We want to make Norway into a conductor nation,” says Maria Mediaas Jørstad of Talent Norway, a mixed public and private talent development agency. “We have Olympia Toppen that works with top talents in sports. We have Young Enterprise developing young business talents. Now, we also have a program for young talents within arts.” One of the key new initiatives in the agency is the Conductors Program.

The goal of the Conductors Program is to mobilize the entire musical community from volunteers to music schools and universities to amateur orchestras and professional Norwegian ensembles. It involves commitments on many levels, ranging from the grassroots level to the highest national and international levels, alongside existing educational structures. The idea behind the program is to create the foundation to raise the competence and visibility of Norwegian conductors, nationally and internationally.

Talent Norway invited the entire Norwegian music community to make a historic commitment to work together to raise the competence, profile, and career possibilities for conductors in Norway by creating good cooperative structures for long-term development of talent.

The agency was founded in January 2015 by the foundation Sparebankstiftelsen DNB, Cultiva, and the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, “as a corporation with an ideal purpose.”

Jørstad, the director of Talent Norway, recently gave a speech at the Oslo Rotary Club, the oldest and largest in the Nordic countries. Its first meeting was held in Kristiania (Oslo) on Oct. 13 1921, having been chartered by the Fort Dodge Rotary Club of Iowa. The president’s bell used at every meeting was a gift from the Minnesota Rotary Club in 1925.

In her speech for Rotary, Jørstad said that its leaders “want to keep Talent Norway a small organization. We want to network with already existing organizations in the field. We also want to learn from sports. The Olympia Toppen has a culture of sharing. They came to us to cooperate.”

Talent Norway helps finance projects that work with talent at a high level. They do not support individual talents, but collaborate with talent developers from all cultural fields.

One goal is to receive more financing. In 2018, they received NOK 160 million from public and private sources. They provide no support without private co-funding. Their ultimate goal is to help more young artists acquire successful careers, both nationally and internationally.

Most of the programs are within dance and music. One program gives young musicians development opportunities through a close and unique collaboration with Germany’s Berliner Philharmoniker. Another example are the young talents at the Norwegian Opera and Ballet with the aim of developing and recruiting young dancers to an elite level.

Currently, there are 500-600 active participants. They seek 50% of their recruits from foreign countries and 50% from within the Norwegian background. Talent Norway is based at the cultural incubator Sentralen in the center of Oslo.

According to Jørstad, it is fantastic to work with talent!

This article originally appeared in the March 6, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Rasmus Falck

Rasmus Falck is a strong innovation and entrepreneurship advocate. The author of “What do the best do better” and “The board of directors as a resource in SME,” he received his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in Oslo.