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Bergen International Festival: How is it celebrated?  

By Aditi Srivastava,

This year, the 70th edition of the festival will be held from May 25 to June 8, 2022.

The Bergen International Festival is an annual music and cultural festival in Norway. (Image: Instagram)

Norway is known for its spectacular fjords (a long, deep, narrow body of water that reaches far inland), lakes, and the Northern Lights (a spectacular, colourful display of light seen in the northern hemisphere's night sky). But this  Nordic (relating to Scandinavia, Finland and Ireland) country is also famous for its annual music festival called Bergen International Festival. The festival’s 70th edition will be held from May 25 to June 8, 2022. Here’s what this festival is all about. 

What is Bergen International Festival all about? 

The Bergen International Festival, which began in 1953, is Norway’s flagship music and theatre festival. The event, which is known for world premieres and new performances of music, opera, drama, and dance, is a centre for the Northern European arts and culture. Norway's monarch, King Harald V, is the patron of the festival. From the end of May to the beginning of June, the festival takes place in a variety of locations across Bergen, including the Grieg Hall, Haakon's Hall, Troldhaugen, Lysen, Siljustl, as well as streets and town squares. Unique locations, such as Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg's residence and the 750-year-old royal hall, Hkonshallen, provide a rich historical backdrop for this vibrant fiesta that offers hundreds of live, interactive events on dozens of stages every year. Tickets for this year's festival can be bought from the official website. There are different categories of tickets: Standard, Children, Senior Citizen, Student or Under 30 Years, etc are available. 

What to look for at the Bergen International Festival? 

The festival is divided into several categories such as music, theatre, dance, opera, circus, film, dramatised concert and more. It is further divided into three sub-categories: Festivities, Foundations and Friction. Festivities category includes entertainment and surprises, street plays and other performances at new and old venues such as Bergen Aquarium, Kulturhuset, Grieghallen, etc. On the other hand, people interested in Foundations category can check out classical art traditions, drop-in musical concerts and choir performances by the Norwegian Armed Forces’ Band and Bergen Cathedral Choir. The third category, Friction, is all about exploring and experimenting with new technologies in dance and theatre performances. 

Highlights of the International Bergen Festival 2022 
It will begin on May 25 with the opening ceremony which can be attended for free by anyone at Torgallmenningen, a well-designed town square in central Bergen, dotted with shops, pedestrian walkway and green space. The ceremony will include artistic elements, speeches and the traditional sing-along of Bergen's anthem, ‘Nystemten’, and the Norwegian national anthem, ‘Ja, vi elsker’. Norwegian pianist, Leif Ove Andsnes, will perform at the Opening Ceremony this year which will be streamed live. 

This will be followed up by the world premiere of the symphonic version of American actor and playwright, Taylor Mac's performance at Grieg Hall, Norway. It will be staged in collaboration with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and will be titled 'A 24-decade history of popular music.'   

Kronos Quartet, an American string quartet (a type of musical composition or a group of four people who play them) based in San Francisco, US, will be this year’s artist in residence at the Bergen International Festival. They will be presenting a wide range of musical compositions from their long catalogue of commissioned works, including music by American singer and songwriter, Nina Simone and American music composer, Missy Mazzoli.

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