Magnus Boye Hansen
The Norwegian violinist and violist Magnus Boye Hansen has his background from the Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo, University of the Arts in Berlin and the Academy of music in Oslo. His teachers were Morten Carlsen, Geir Inge Lotsberg, Axel Gerhardt and Lars Anders Tomter,
In addition to his job as a violinist in the Norwegian Radio-orchestra, Magnus Boye Hansen is an active chamber musician and plays regularly at festivals both in Norway and abroad.
"Lights Out" is a critically acclaimed concert-concept Magnus developed in collaboration with the pianist Mathias Susaas Halvorsen and the cellist Steven Walter. It aims to play concerts in absolute darkness for both musicians and audience. Since 2011, they have played concerts regularly in Norway, Iceland, Germany and the Netherlands, including performances at the Stuttgarter Festspiele, Düsseldorf-festival and Grachten Festival in Amsterdam. In October 2015 "Lights Out" went on tour to the United States including concerts at Portland Chamber music festival and in Taplin Hall, Princeton.
From 2018 Magnus is a member of the critically acclaimed Oslo String Quartet.
Steven Walter is a cultural entrepreneur and performing cellist currently based in Berlin and Stuttgart, Germany. Born in 1986 and raised near Stuttgart, Steven was early to discover his passion for classical music. He started playing the cello at age 8 and soon began performing with various ensemble. After graduating, Steven studied the cello in Oslo and Detmold. He has performed as soloist and chamber musician at many venues in Europe, in the US and throughout Scandinavia, and has received invitations to several international Festivals. He was a member of several new orchestras, i.e. International Mahler Orchestra as well as founding member of the Badische Kammerphilharmonie.
Additionally to his performance career, Steven is a very engaged cultural entrepreneur and manager. He has founded and currently is artistic & managing director of the PODIUM Festival Esslingen (Germany), a very successful innovative European chamber music festival. In recognition of his work as an innovative music promoter he has received a prestigious ECHO Klassik Award and a nomination to Cultural Manager of the Year. He received a scholarship for the “Akademie Musiktheater heute” from the Deutsche Bank Stiftung and is co-founder of the Music curator Startup HERNY. Furthermore, Steven regularly teaches at renown universities and schools in Germany.
Mathias Susaas Halvorsen studied with professor Jiri Hlinka at Barratt Due Musikkinstitutt in Oslo 2007 - 2010 and with professor Gerald Fauth at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Leipzig 2011 - 2013. During Mathias' time at Barratt Due Musikkinstitutt he performed several times as a soloist with the school's orchestra in pieces such as Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Poulenc's concerto for two pianos and Schostakovich piano concerto no. 1. In 2009 he re -discovered and performed piano concerto no. 5 by the Norwegian composer Halfdan Cleve in Vilnius with the Lithuania State Symphony and conductor Gintaras Rinkevicius. In 2008 Mathias founded the Podium festival in Haugesund together with Guro Pettersen and the festival will be held for the 8th time in July 2015. Recently he has performed in places like Radialsystem in Berlin, St. John Smith Square, Ernst Deutsch Theater, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Hamburg Schauspielhaus and Oslo Konserthus and collaborated with artist such as Laurent Chétouane and Peaches. He has also performed at several international festivals including Klara Festival in Brussel, Yoko Onos Meltdown, Brighton Festival, Podium Festival Esslingen, Theater der Welt and Bachfest Stuttgart. In 2014 his composition “the Square” was performed in Podium Festival Esslingen and Scaldis Chamber Music Festival. Future projects includes a series of live recordings of Bach's Goldbergvariations and a tour with Boye's Café Orchestra performing Rachmaninov third piano concerto.
Lucilla Schmidinger is the LIGHTS OUT producer, so she is trying to keep up with all the ideas, plans, dates and contacts of all trio members. After her Bachelors in Theatre Studies and Musicology, she is currently training in Cultural Management at the University for Music and Theater Munich. Having worked for PODIUM Festival Esslingen and the Theater Academy August Everding in Munich as well as a PR agency she now uses the skills she learnt to steer the LIGHTS OUT mission for more special, intense and dark concerts.
If she doesn’t work for or listen to the music of others she enjoys singing herself the most (apart from living her healthy obsession with dark chocolate).
INTERVIEW WITH LIGHTS OUT
Concerts in absolute darkness? Three young musicians thought that would be a remarkable experience. In September 2015 they gave such concerts at the Dusseldorf Festival in cooperation with the PODIUM Festival.
By Lucilla Schmidinger
PODIUM: Since when have you three been doing this together?
Steven Walter: Mathias and Magnus started out in 2011 and I joined in 2012. Since then we’ve regularly performed as a trio in several countries.
PODIUM: How long do you have to practice together and how do you practice for a program?
Walter: It’s a three phase process: after deciding on a program, everyone learns the individual parts and the score. Then we meet for an intense rehearsal period, working out our interpretation and learning to play together by heart. The last step is to transfer all that into total darkness and make the performance “darkness-proof”.
PODIUM: How do you pick the works?
Walter: We sit together and listen to loads of stuff, argue, mud-wrestle and fist-fight. And out comes a beautiful program.
Mathias Halvorsen: First we work on finding a theme or an angle to the program. This is not always as simple as it sounds, and we often do not settle for a time period or a composer. Most of our programs are built full of surprises with twists and turns but sticking to one overall concept. We spend a lot of time figuring out how the pieces fit together to one unit. While programing for the dark we have to spend more time listening carefully to how it’s going to sound for a close audience without scaring people too much. Each of our programs is supposed to be like a novel or a good story: rich and full of different chapters that all built on each other before reaching a satisfying climactic end.
PODIUM: Are there different challenges for modern/contemporary and classical music pieces? What are they?
Halvorsen: Yes. The challenges are definitely different when you have to touch your instrument in a different way. For the strings this might mean more high flageolets, crazy pizzicato/plucking and other unusual things. For the piano you often have to touch inside the piano and move things around in there, and that poses all kinds of dangers. However the patterns you have to memorize in contemporary music are more unusual and therefore also more memorable in a way, compare to baroque and classical repertoire.
PODIUM: What do you do when something goes wrong or someone plays wrong?
Halvorsen: When one musician gets lost in the dark, either by forgetting or messing up, literally anything can happen. Remember nobody has a score and it definitely does not help that nobody can see their instrument. We have had everything that can happen happen, from a minor jump nobody notices to an entire piece crashing in slow motion for 20 minutes (which also nobody appeared to notice). The only thing to our advantage in that respect is that the audience can’t see the fear in our eyes when shit starts going down.
PODIUM: Are there any senses that come into focus more than usually?
Halvorsen: Both the sense of hearing and touch are definitely heightened. In addition many people report a heightened sense of smell, which is why we almost ended up calling our group SmellYourNeighbour.
PODIUM: What are the audience’s reactions?
Halvorsen: The reactions are always powerful; either they love it or they hate it. It’s not uncommon for people to share feedback after a concert like “this was the worst thing I ever experienced!”. We figure it’s going good when people have an experience they never forget, and both love and hate is a good start in that regard. After every show we find that the audience does not want to leave, and often stays for a long time to share their experience with each other.
PODIUM: How do you think it makes a difference for the reception of a composition?
Halvorsen: The perception of sound is definitely very different in the dark and this does of course influence the way we experience music. Colors, timbre and the sound of the room all turn much richer and nuanced in the dark and most people also experience a heightened ability to concentrate and get lost in the music. We also want our concerts to maximize the impression of the pieces by not telling you what is being performed before the show starts and by paying a great deal of consideration to the order and built of our programs. One other aspect of performing in the dark is the extreme degree to which it erodes the distance between musician and audience. It often feels like you are touching people directly with each note, still while at the same time being utterly alone. It’s a truly bizarre and remarkable experience.