Queen Sonja and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway have jointly opened one of the most famous arts festivals in Europe in a very different way. Mother and son teamed up to deliver a virtual opening to the acclaimed event.
Usually at least one member of Norway’s Royal Family travels to the western part of Norway and the city of Bergen in the spring to attend the opening of Bergen International Festival. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this was impossible this year. Therefore, the festival has gone digital and so has royal participation.
The original Bergen 2020 Festival programme was cancelled in April when the ban on cultural events was put in place. Those restrictions last until at least June 15 to prevent the spread of coronavirus. In May, a new programme was announced and now the festival will provide 60 concerts and events digitally.
The opening of the very first concert started with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra playing the Norwegian national anthem before a video greeting from the Queen and the Crown Prince. The video-message was recorded in front of the small pavilion in the Royal Palace park, behind the Royal Palace in Oslo.
“Even though we are far apart, the art experience can still bring us together. It is impressive that the organizers managed to do this when our everyday lives changed – and create one of the world’s first and biggest digital cultural festivals,” said Crown Prince Haakon in his video greeting during the opening concert.
Her Majesty the Queen said: “Dear festival audience. I must confess that I miss being in Bergen! Coming to Bergen in the spring to be able to attend the International Festival is always a great experience. My expectations are always high for your diverse and exciting cultural arguments. What does the Festival have to offer this year, I always ask myself. And you always manage to find a new twist.”
On Wednesday this week the Bergen 2020 festival started with an opening concert from the Grieg Hall, which included the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and many more. This year’s festival will be held between May 20 and June 3. The first Bergen Festival took place in 1953 and today the festival is the Nordic region’s largest curated festival for music and performing arts.