Café de Concert



Today - Café de Concert has become the atelier and concert gallery of the young and multitalented pianist and composer Aksel Kolstad. It took him 10 years to brand this concept and turn it into one of the most original and innovating classical concepts in the world. Here´s the story behind...... The Idea The origin and still driving force behind Café de Concert is to present classical music to a larger audience. The genre has by no means the same appeal as pop, rock or jazz. Creating a more relaxed atmosphere, and not to forget Kolstad´s magical ability to present classical music with humor and showmanship, it all results in a more intimate and fun concert format than the traditional solemn style. The idea that classical music can once again become popular music, the way it once was, is the motivation behind the concept Café de Concert. Classical concerts at cafés – Café de Concert recruits musicians, both students and professionals, to play classical music for the people. The goal is to stimulate as well as strengthen everyone’s interest in classical music. The level of musicianship is high, and with a relaxed, positive atmosphere, between the pieces, it is possible to have a cup of coffee, have something to eat or perhaps talk with the person sitting beside you. Café de Concert is an arena for all creative arts. In addition to musical performances, there are regular arts exhibitions and ballet/modern dance performances directed by CdC.  

17th of May in New York

"I remember my first time in New York on May 15th 2007. Walking down Lexington Avenue and 53 Street with a heart raceing like lightening, towards what was to become where my creative Manhattan-soul would blossom like never before, The Norwegian Seaman´s Church. I still have that feeling, walking down Lexington and 53rd, every time. The community of wonderful people and insanely gifted artists inspire in ways no pen in my power can yet describe. Celebrateing Norway´s National Day with all of these great people both working and hanging out at the church makes me so incredibly Norwegian! And there is nothing more Norwegian than beeing Norwegian and playing Norwegian music abroad. Especially when performing one´s own contemporary music, like I did during the official 17th of May-concert at 7 pm, last night. This was definitly the best national celebration in my life!! And I got to lead the whole parade, in my new, pink Moods of Norway-suit:) Huge Café de Concert-concert at Caffe Vivaldi tomorrow, can´t wait!!

Sincerely, Artistic Director of Café de Concert in New York - Aksel Kolstad"

Full house at the opening of the Nordic Chambermusic Center

Full house (actually more than full) at the grand opening of the Nordic Chambermusic Center at Elingaard in Fredrikstad yesterday evening. Aksel hit it off with some of his own variations over Bach´s Goldberg Variations, then he performed Mozart piano concerto nr. 11 and Gershwin´s Rhapsody in Blue with Café de Concerts vital and energetic Fredrikstad Chamber Orchestra. Next concert at NCC is on June 3rd, a supercool outdoor garden concert. Don´t miss it! And to all you classical musicians out there - NCC is the place to be!!

A wonderful house-concert at Aksel´s place

The atmosphere was electric, the stories from the book "Momo", told by the wonderful drama-student Iselin Shumba, was dazzeling and the music simply flew out of our instruments. Bjarne Magnus Jensen and I started off with the funky Norwegian dance nr. 1 by Halvorsen. Then I played my Harlekin-variations (over Bach´s Goldberg Variations), then came Mozart´s 1st movement from his violinsonata KV 333, I played his famous solo sonata in B flat major (1st movement) and after Bjarne amazed the crowd with Ole Bull´s Mountain Visit we finished off with Svendsen´s Romance and Beethoven´s Spring sonata
(1st movement). Man, that was a blast! Can´t wait to invite everybody to the next house-concert at Casa del Musica;) Great having you here, my dearest friends!!

Artistic Director´s definition of "a musician"

Musicians are athletes!

The life of a classical musician is actually much more exhausting than what I believe most people think in the first place. One aspect is of course all of the travelling and physical effect it has on the body, and no less when having to perform at the same time. But what I would like to emphasise is the amount of strength needed to
play an entire concert, totally focused, and constantly having to flow over with enegry at the same time as produceing energy. In my mind it is really as hard as any other sport. Which brings me over to my very point -
both musicians and others should see the sport in music, and the music in sports. In other words see the athletism in art, and the art in athletism. I am an athelete - that´s why I wear Nike!

Asia #11 Final concert in Asia

Last night we recieved a standing ovation from a full house at the Norwegian Seaman´s Churhc in Pattaya, Thailand. Bjarne and Aksel warmed up with a day at the beach - THAT´S how you should prepare Beethoven sonatas, guys!

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the marketing of the concert with posters and pictures hanging all over Pattaya - bringing in a full house later that night..

Many thank´s to the wonderful driver and everything-man Manee and the great guide Anne! You guys rock!! (And so we all did out on town after the concert..!!)

Today is our much longed for day off - then it´s back to the ice kingdom of Norway after two weeks which feels more like 2 months of adventure... I guess we are a bit speachless when it comes to makeing a summary of it all - hopefully the past blogtexts and photos have given you an idea of the great adventure this all has been. Café de Concert is heading back to home base - but just to reload and prepare for new adventures, bringing classical music out in the urban society... and the jungle. A big tribute to the man who made it all possible, the one and only Pastor Svein Helge Rødahl!

Here are some "unofficial" photos from the tour, guys! Enjoy;)

Hindu ceremony in Bali, early in the morning.

Bjarne and Vegard (our super duper Asia-photographer!

This is not what it looks like - it actually is one of the most fabous bars in Singapoore, getting your liquid straight in there....!!

Just had to make a snapshot of this car!!

The legendary Raffles Hotel.

He lived under our appartement....legendary!! :D

Bjarne finally found his inner self!

Aksel picked a fight in the Thai-ring..

Watch out guys! In this part of the world - girls are not allways what they look like, believe it or not...;)

Asia #10 Our wonderful Asia-photographer

This guy - is worth an investigation!!
He´s travelling all over the world and makeing great snapshots!
We were so lucky to hook up with him in Bali and he followed us arund in different countries in Asia, shareing extreme adventours and wonderful musical moments with us.
Welcome on board the team, Vegard! You rock!
And guys - check out his blog.

Asia #9 Concert in the slum of Bangkok

On Tuesday we got a glimps of the hard reality under the surface of Bangkok. We went out in the slum and played a concert for and with kids living in the slum - litterarely speaking. But some of these kids have been tought playing both the violin and cello by the fantastic Solveig Johannesen, which has been living together with her no less fantastic husband Dag Johannesen in Bangkok for 11 years. Dag as a pastor and Solveig running her own music school at The Immanuel Church/"Home of Praise". "Home of Praise" is a kindergarden and an activity-center which lies under the highway in the slum of Kling Toey in Bagkok. In this slum-area there lives 300.000-400.000 people. "Home of Praise" is a kindergarden during the day for kids between 6 months and 3 years. 30 adorable kids attend it today. In the afternoon the house opens its doors up to everybody and offers different activities like for exemple violin-playing, art, computers, english. It is run by "The Norwegian mission Society".

Before we came to where the concert was to be held we had a mini-mini concert for some school kids from the Immanual Day Nursery at the Immanuel Church.

Then we were taken around the neighbourhood and shown the devestateing images of what kids and elder people has to refer to as "home".

And finally we got to meet the kids at "Home of Praise" - and fell completely in love with them, who wouldn´t! Bjarne had a small work-shop with them, rehearsing Humoreske by Dvorak, Kanon by Pachelbell, Bach double concert in d-minor and the Elephant song - a very famous Thai kids-tune! Aksel and Bjarne opened the concert with some duo-repertoire. The kids AMAZED us with their play and will and eager to learn. All of a sudden, we all forgot what was hidden outside the walls of the house - the slum and devestateing everyday tragedies. Inside the house there was just pure love, music and children´s laughter...

And then began the unforgettable concert with the kids

Watch the video from the concert here:

Here is some information about two of the amazing people working at "Home of Praise".

In 1999 Dag started to work on establishing the congregations work and establish the activity-center "HOP" in the slum of Klong Toey (Nong Mai-district) From 2001- 2005 he worked as a pastor in the Immanuel Church. Since 2004 he has been the Norwegian Mission Company´s representative in Thailand and the Mekong area. He is responsable for all 16 missionaries and their families in addition to supervise all projects with local churches in Thailand and neighbour countries.

Solveig has her education as an organist, pianist, choir instructor and a music teacher from the music conservatoires in Stavanger and Bergn in Norway. She has managed to turn the "Hope of Praise" into a music-school for children where she teaches violin, cello and piano. Some of her students have already been accepted in different music conservatories, and she has so many great talents that we are sure to see in the future in grand concert scenes - thank´s to the wonderful and impressive work Solveig is doing for kids in the slum area of KlingToey.

Asia #8 - First concert in Singapore

Singapore really blew our minds away - who said Hollywood, Dubai, Manhattan or Rio had it all? This city is totally insane! And the technology is really far out! Asia has in my mind won the race of fancy cities in the world with Singapore. I take my hat off! We had a great time performing at the Norwegian Seaman´s Church here in Singapore, having to do encores for a huge and very enthusiastic audience! The day after, Bjarne and Aksel took an afternoon in Chinatown - and now nightlife in Singapore awaits them....

Asia #7 - Boot camp

During every Café de Concert-tour there is ALWAYS a Café de Concert BOOT-CAMP!!
Bjarne and Aksel hit the gym at the Ambhara Hotel after performing for Jotun earlier on Friday.

Asia #6

On Friday we performed at the Jotun fabric in Jakarta with local employees, Jotun´s administration and also members from Statoil in the audience. When Bjarne and Aksel played the 1st movement from Beethoven´s
"Spring-sonata" the audience almost got on their feet! After the concert the guys got a very interesting tour on the fabric and were also given a golden penguin-pin from Jotun which they wore the whole day:) In Jakarta the boys stayed the fancy pancy Ambhara Hotel. Svein-Helge, you are the man!

Café de Concert YouTube Channel

The history of Café de Concert

Café de Concert began a few days before the 19th of June 2003 when Aksel Kolstad together with a colleague performed live on Midt i Musikken, a classical music program on NRK radio P2. During the program, the trial concert was announced, to be held at Kastanjen restaurant on Bygdøy Allé in Oslo.

Visit the old Café de Concert media centre HERE

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