January 30, 2023

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Bergen's leading music education is taking recordings off their bucket list

Bergen’s leading music education is taking recordings off their bucket list

While the students and staff wait for their building for the Grieg Academy, they are still making records on a cone.

Technician Davide Bertolini and producer Thomas T. Dahl prepare to record from Dahl.
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Technician Davide Bertolini and producer Thomas T. Dahl are seated in a booth measuring approximately eight square meters at the Greig Academy.

– This is “Mission Control,” as Dahl says of the temporary control room.

Monitors and recording devices are set up between the sink and stacked tables. Green on the walls may have been in fashion a few decades ago, while audio equipment, on the other hand, is state of the art.

– In terms of equipment, this is ten out of ten. But room, it’s not even on the scale, he says with a good laugh.

They can, of course, move the mess around, but there’s nowhere to put it anywhere, says the technician.

– A good room was at least 40 square metres, with adequate acoustics and set to music. The fact that we don’t have a good studio is like missing a lab in a chemistry course.

Cables run from the cone to Gunnar Sævig Hall. Here, Eyvind Ostad lifted the lid of the grand piano, drummer Haakon Magast Johansen held the cymbals in place and Magne Thormodsæter unwrapped the double bass.

– We’re rolling in here, so keep going, Dahl directing the band from the control room.

Eyvind Ostad plays piano in the trio and also works at the Grieg Academy.

Commodore: The shovel is in the ground at the end of 2024 at the earliest

They may have to scrap records from the set list for years to come. Because even if the UiB, after settling the budget, was allowed to continue planning a new building for the Grieg Academy, it took some time before they could finally move in.

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– Schedule to start construction by the end of 2024. After that the building should be ready for occupancy during 2026, says the dean of the Faculty of Art, Music and Design at UIB.

According to the plan, the building will cost just over 1 billion kroner. This money has not yet been approved.

Dean of the Faculty of Art, Music and Design Frode Thorsen.

Since the end of the 1980s, students and staff at Grieg Academy have been housed at Nygård School, right next to Grieg Hall.

The building has not been adapted to modern music education, and investigations have revealed that the conditions could be directly harmful to the health of students and staff.

The need for a new building has been on the agenda for more than 20 years. Those plans got a boost earlier this fall, when Education Minister Ola Burton-Meaux explained that economic prospects for the future were so dire that the building was unlikely to materialize.

Therefore, the project was removed from the Ministry’s list.

– It was a totally unreal situation, and it sent shock waves through all the tender souls altogether. The support we’ve received from across our region has been very good, says Thorsen.

Grieg Academy moved to Nygård School in 1987. Now they hope to be able to move into a new building in 2026 at the earliest.

– We must have a breakthrough

After significant protests from the professional community and students, the design of the building was nevertheless included in the state budget after negotiations with SV.

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Thorsen says management at UiB has assured them that conditions in the existing building will improve while they wait.

– There will be some necessary renovations, some of which have already been done. A lift was built three years ago, and a number of additional studios were built following the municipality’s exit in 2019.

Gunnar Sævig Hall is used for concerts, rehearsals and recording. The walls are not soundproofed, and every day you hear the bells from Grieghallen.

Are you afraid that the premises you have to continue to use will weaken the recruitment process?

– It is certainly a threat, but at the same time I think that the reason for the survival of the academy is the strong professional environment and the high level of the study program. But we cannot survive indefinitely. We must have a breakthrough.

We are not satisfied with the situation at all. For us, there are practical solutions that apply so we can get moving.

Double bass player Magne Thormodsæter says the walls in the building are so badly soundproofed that they have to re-record because of the noise from outside.

– He went from Grayston

“Something violent is leaking in here,” says musician Magne Thormodsæter after finishing the recording.

The short side of the concert hall points directly towards the bells at Grieghallen, and they ring every day.

– Previously, we had to take a new recording because the bells started all of a sudden. Hence we have to agree with the house percussionists here, so as not to disturb each other.

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Producer Thomas T. Dahl says gold is made from gray stone at the Academy every day. – It’s because of people.

Thormodsæter, Bertolini, Dahl and Austad all work for the Academy. It is clear that without the good ergonomics and experience, the house would not have worked at all.

This is what we depend on on a daily basis. We get gold from the gray stone here every day, but that doesn’t mean there are good conditions. Dal says it’s because of the people here.

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