Pining for the fjords

Me on a boat around the fjords

I’m in Stavanger, Norway. It’s Nordic Music Week and I was invited to come out and talk at a seminar on a panel about local music scenes.

Stavanger is interesting when it comes to that sort of thing. It seems to be a really musical town, despite a population of only around 130,000. There’s a lot of money here because of the oil industry, and the government has some very generous arts funding schemes and large scale initiatives like a massive new concert house they’ve just built (that very few Stavanger bands will ever be big enough to play).

Serious questions were being asked about whether the arts were “too well-funded” and whether that money gets in the way of people being creative “for arts sake” or whether they were just spending all their time filling in application forms and reports, and doing administration.

On a boat around the fjords

Anyway – the panel went well, I met some very cool and interesting people – including Prof Martin Cloonan from Glasgow, whose work I’ve read in my job as a music industry academic, and Joel Hamilton, a record producer from New York I ended up getting on very well with (who happens to coincidentally know some people I know).

I also got to hang out with my Norwegian friends for dinner, see some live music and – the highlight – sail around the fjords, which were breathtaking. The photos don’t do them justice.

On a boat around the fjords

That overhanging bit up there – that’s Pulpit Rock. Very famous. For scale, here’s what it looks like from the top.

That’s not me up there, incidentally. I only saw it from underneath. Even so. It’s a big, heavy rock that could fall into the water at any moment, causing tidal waves and widespread destruction, like the big rocks either side of it did sometime in the last 10,000 years or so.

I’m heading back home today, but very grateful for the opportunity to speak at an event like this, do some of the most impressive sightseeing I’ve done in the Northern hemisphere (New Zealand’s another story, of course) and talk with people who have quite a different perspective of the relationship between music, place, policy and the music business.

Learned a lot – and hopefully contributed something too. Lots more photos on my Flickr page.

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