Culture: The World’s Two Northernmost Professional Orchestras Join Forces

John Storgårds prøver Foto Vidar Thorbjørnsen

Lapland Chamber Orchestra from Finland practicing with the Arctic Philharmonic before the concert under the leadership of John Storgård. (Photo: Vidar Thorbjørnsen)

They are the two northernmost professional orchestras. This week, the Lapland Chamber Orchestra from Finland cooperates with the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway for the first time. 2024 may be the start of a lasting musical collaboration in the North.

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The Finnish orchestra has traveled far – from Rovaniemi in Lapland to Bodø in Northern Norway by bus. They have brought valuable instruments, which have to survive in the freezing cold, and the internationally acknowledged Finnish conductor John Storgårds. 

He is currently the chief conductor for the BBC Philharmonic in the UK, which was recently nominated for Orchestra of the Year by the prestigious journal Gramophone. In addition, Storgårds has managed a classical orchestra north of the Arctic Circle for over 25 years as a chief conductor in the Norwegian-Finnish orchestra.

A job that has coincided with an international career as a violinist.

Now, cooperation across the Cap of the North is next.


"Cooperation across country borders in the North is something we have worked on over time. The distances here are great, but not greater than southward in our respective countries," says the Orchestra Director of the Arctic Philharmonic, Torunn Rigstad, in a press release.

In a way, this is what culture is about

Orchestra Director of the Arctic Philharmonic, Torunn Rigstad

"Gradually, we have concluded that exploring the opportunities to cover the High North together is a natural development. This has intensified with the world situation in the past couple of years, including the NATO expansion," she continues.

The Finns visited Tromsø in Northern Norway in the fall with a concert of their own. Now, as we enter the Capital Year of Culture 2024 in Bodø, everything is ready for the orchestras' first joint concert. It will take place in Bodø on Thursday, and the orchestras will enter the stage together in Stormen Concert Hall.


"In a way, this is what culture is about; it is what binds us together and makes it worth living up here. At the same time, cultural institutions are links to Europe," she explains.

Because of the high artistic quality, the orchestras can offer the northern audience international names such as Storgårds and the concert soloist Jennifer Pike.

"All that remains now is how we will continue the cooperation, perhaps with a joint tour or concerts for us in Finland," concludes the orchestra director.

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