As part of Bergen International Festival, a select group of young performers have been hand-picked to play in the city’s concert arena, Grieg Hall. Now they are anxiously waiting in the wings before playing for an audience of 250. Will they overcome their stage fright?
“Mummy, what happens if my guitar string breaks during the performance?” says an anxious David Antun-Handeland (11). He’s one of several dozen arts school students anxiously awaiting their turn in the Grief Hall’s wardrobe this evening.
The Festival Youth Day is part of Bergen International Festival and is being supported by Equinor’s Heroes of Tomorrow sponsorship programme. The youngsters are performing at the Youth Day concert, and there’s no doubt that the transition from a regular school performance to the considerably larger Grieg Hall has given them butterflies.
“This just has to go well!” mutters pianist Kei Solvang (14), as she restlessly paces the wardrobe, trying to find support among the others performing on stage this evening. But it’s not easy to keep calm when everyone around is you is also bubbling with stage fright and nerves.
Mentored by Andsnes
Back in the wardrobe, Kei’s butterflies have still not calmed. “Are you nervous?”, she asks one of the boys about to enter the stage. He nods slightly, and Kei confirms that she has the same feeling.
“Just two more, then it’s my turn!”, she says.
It’s no wonder Kei is nervous. She’ll be performing a piece by Chopin on the piano that is so challenging that renowned pianist Leif Ove Andsnes confides to Kei that he has never dared perform it publicly himself. As a Heroes of Tomorrow ambassador, Andsnes helped coach the young musicians before their performance. Kei is not deterred by this news, but responds:
“Being allowed to play in front of such a big audience is a great honour for me, and will give me a lot of experience.”
Fingers played along
While one of the singers is performing, Kei watches intently from the wings. She catches a glimpse of the audience in the Per Gynt Hall—far bigger than she is used to—but she is ready, and excited.
Her turn at last! She walks calmly out on the stage, receiving the applause of the audience, then sits down at the piano, her fingers flying over the piano keys. The Chopin is played with force and intensity, and it sounds as though she has never done anything but play the piano.
Afterwards, we meet Kei backstage—with a big smile and an expression of relief on her face.
“That was such fun!,” she says, before receiving the audience’s ovation together with the other art and music school students.