What makes Bergen a music paradise?

Photo: Tomasz Furmanek / Visitnorway.com The city of Bergen is a paradise for music. What makes it so, and could those aspects be put in place elsewhere?

Photo: Tomasz Furmanek / Visitnorway.com
The city of Bergen is a paradise for music. What makes it so, and could those aspects be put in place elsewhere?

Karoline Danielsen
Bergen, Norway

Bergen, one of the most urban cities in Norway, serves as the present-day hotspot for producing most of Norway’s contemporary music. A city equipped with a wonderfully eclectic music scene, many internationally renowned musicians have hailed from this area. Artists like the Kings of Convenience, Kygo, and Aurora Aksnes, each with more than 20 million plays on Spotify, are a few of those who can attribute their impressive success to the music haven of Bergen. But why are the musicians in Bergen achieving greater and greater success whilst the musical subjects in school have become less significant in recent years?

Though the city only has around 300,000 residents, Bergen stands above most other Norwegian cities in number of musicians. This may be attributed to the cultural support that Bergen offers its rising musicians. Norwegians are proud of their culture and of sharing it with locals and others worldwide, and music holds a significant place in this culture. Musicians in Bergen are known for collaborating with one another, rather than competing. Artists of different backgrounds and genres are encouraged to learn from one another, which contributes to the enrichment of one’s musical ability.

Bergen offers a lot of cultural events where artists can perform to share their music with people who are interested. Residents are invited to either participate on stage or in the audience so that rising musical talent is discovered. This is a good way for newly established bands or artists to try out their new sound in front of a diverse and easy-going crowd. Establishments such as Garage, USF Verftet, Café Opera, and Lille OleBull often support these opportunities with live shows. Informal jam sessions are common and allow people of different ages and backgrounds to come together in the celebration of music.

The music scene is also made accessible to as many as possible. Places like Kvarteret, a university cultural center run by volunteers, is known for organizing musical events that cater to student budgets. They offer students discounted entry at concerts, along with attractive prices for drinks and food. This student bar and other places around the city are doing well to promote new Norwegian music to young crowds and are getting financial support from the local municipality.

Bergen’s music scene is in constant change and there are always new sounds emerging. The music scene is very alive in households throughout the city as well. I am currently living in a culturally diverse house in Bergen’s center with eight other people from around the world, with residents ranging from their early 20s to mid 40s. Every few months, we arrange an event called the “Cultural Happening,” where we invite a number of people from around the city to an evening organized around the open sharing of music. It’s a sharing of music for love, and not for profit. Our event is a place for people to express their new musical talent and to get exposure to the music of others. Our house is part of a good music environment in Bergen, and we are not alone.

Opportunities and events like these throughout Bergen are undoubtedly contributing to the rising and continued success of “Bergenser” musicians being recognized throughout the country and the world. Bergen’s artists are bringing people together, creating unforgettable memories, indescribable moments, uncontrolled feelings, love at first sight, and true friendships. Could this kind of music scene be cultivated elsewhere?

Karoline Helene Danielsen is originally from an island outside of Bergen but now lives in Bergen with a nice view of the city center. She loves meeting new people, having a beer with friends, and playing music, and is about to go on an adventure in the capital of Norway.

This article originally appeared in the June 3, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.