Les Boréales - key French festival runs Norwegian focus

Renowned French festival Les Boréales in Cannes joins the Centenary Anniversary of Norwegian independence by focussing on Norwegian literature, art, design and last but not least, music.

Biosphere in the mountains (Photo: Dean Chalkley)

With performers such as Jan Garbarek, Bugge Wesseltoft, Bjørn Berge, Mental Overdrive and Biosphere on its roster, renowned French festival Les Boréales offers a diverse and representative cross-section of the Norwegian music scene to its Normandy audience.

Created in 1992, the festival Les Boréales in Caen, France presents each year, in November, an open platform on artistic creation from the five Nordic countries.
Besides the literary events, including theatre plays and public readings, the festival offers a wide range of events over ten days: dancing, movies, videos, exhibitions, concerts, performances and live shows happening in Caen and Lower-Normandy.

Organised since 1999 by the Regional centre for literature (Centre regional des Lettres de Basse-Normandie) with the firm support of its various partners from France and from the Nordic countries, the festival les Boréales will celebrate in November 2005 the centenary of the independence of Norway. Come November 2006 it will be Finland’s turn to be under the spotlight of the festival, followed by Sweden in 2007, Iceland in 2008 and Denmark in 2009.

The Les Boréales festival runs from 18 to 26 November.

Strong Norwegian profile

The list of Norwegian performers at Les Boréales is well planned, diverse and representative. With Jan Garbarek, Bjørn Berge, Biosphere, Mental Overdrive and Bugge Wesseltoft in action on the Caen stages, the festival audience is guaranteed a solid dose of Norwegian creativity and integrity.

Jan Garbarek is set to perform with the Hilliard Ensemble on 22 November at the Abatiale Saint Etienne in Caen. The highly respected Norwegian saxophonist has worked extensively with the English vocal quartet the Hilliard Ensemble over the last decade, a collaboration that has resulted in some stunningly beautiful music. Garbarek’s trademark crystal clear and angelic tone has found its perfect match with the voices of the vocal ensemble creating a sonic palette that has no equal today.

Keyboardist, composer and programmer Bugge Wesseltoft teams up with electronica/techno veteran Per Martinsen (aka Mental Overdrive) and Indian musicians Shrikanth Sriram (of Badmarsh & Shri fame), Sheema Mukherjee and Vivek Rajgopalan to present the unique project ‘Ragatronik Mumbai – Oslo’. A fusion of Norwegian nu-jazz/electronica and Indian music has never been done before and who else could pull it off than Bugge, Per and their highly skilled Indian peers. This is the French debut of the project which has experienced strong reviews and good turnout on the Norwegian live circuit. ‘Ragatronik Mumbai – Oslo’ can be experienced live on 18th of November at the Centre Dramatique National, Hérouville Saint-Clair.

Guitarist Bjørn Berge is a veritable one-man band. Armed with little more than his pick, a voice reminiscent of gravel and broken glass plus his battered Takamine, Berge builds up a groove as strong as a full band and cops it off with vocals that sound as if the devil himself is snapping at his heels. Based in the blues but with additional influences ranging from hip-hop to funk, Bjørn Berge is an artist with few peers – neither in Norway nor abroad. He plays as if he had fifty sets of arms and twenty pairs of legs, and with an insatiable musical curiosity and appetite which will never allow him to become jaded or stuck in a rut. See him live at the Big Band Café, Herouville Saint-Clair on 23 November.

Biosphere and Mental Overdrive team up for a not-to-be-missed performance on 26th of November at the Cinema Café des Images, Hérouville Saint-Clair. The two electronica veterans are set to perform music composed to the film ‘The Man with a Movie Camera’ which was directed by Russian Dziga Vertov in 1929. The film was originally a silent movie but the director left behind musical instructions which Biosphere (aka Geir Jensen) followed at a 1996 screening of the film in Tromsø. Accompanied by Per Martinsen (aka Mental Overdrive) Biosphere created some gripping soundscapes in his trademark minimalist ambient style, a style that has been refined over the two decades spent as one of Norway’s true pioneers of electronic music. Biosphere spearheaded the growth of the Norwegian electronic music scene in the late 80s/early 90s with such seminal albums as ‘Microgravity’ and ‘Patashnik’. He has released a string of highly acclaimed albums culminating in 2004’s ‘Autour De La Lune’ – hailed as a masterpiece by domestic and international press. Biosphere’s much anticipated next album, titled ‘Dropsonde’ is scheduled for release on UK’s Touch Records in January 2006.

Further info on the festival can be found here.

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