During the rehearsal, the guys - Magne, Martin and Jonas - were wearing their silver capes and antler helmets, and the conductor was similarly dressed. The first half of the composition involved the orchestra a whole lot, and the guys not much at all; the three of them stood still beside their equipment (instruments?), waiting to join in the right moment.
I really enjoyed watching the orchestra during the rehearsal because the musicians each had so much more personality than an orchestra usually has during formal performances. I wondered idly how many of them enjoyed playing the Apparatjik composition and how many of them considered it just another task put to them. Judging by their body language during rehearsal it seemed like they were all pretty engaged - this was just guesswork to occupy my mind, though, so I could easily have been wrong about this! ;-)
There was a violinist up front who kept yawning grandly every time she wasn't actually playing, and I found myself wondering if she would yawn later on (she didn't, of course); the percussionists moved between instruments with a kind of light-footed grace that is hard to describe, but interesting to watch; when not actually playing, some of the musicians along the back (I can't remember what instruments they were playing) took photos with their mobile phones of each other, their friends/associates in the audience, the screen above them, whatever; and stage crew/production folks worked through and around all this as needed for final touches. It was a lot to take in, and like I said, really expressive of the orchestra's culture and the individuals themselves.
After the rehearsal, I went up to the lobby bar and had a beer while I waited for the concert to begin. The lobby began to fill up with well dressed people, and as we waited, a women's chorus lined up along the upstairs railing and sang something beautiful. There was a lot of milling around and there were some speeches and toasts before the doors were opened. The atmosphere was pretty special.
Hotel bar/lobby area.
Mingling before the concert.
Later during the real performance, the orchestra was of course dressed formally and was very proper. Having seen them in a very relaxed yet very focused setting earlier, it was kind of interesting to observe the change. The orchestra accompanied all the performers that night, and the entire show was much longer than I anticipated. I stupidly didn't get a program from the night, but I think there were 5-6 segments in each half of the program, with a short interval. Apparatjik performed close to the end of the second half. (I heard that on the following night, they performed in the first half.)
I was sat in the front row, which means that many of the performers, the crew and the speakers generally had to pass within inches of me during changes throughout the evening. Meanwhile as the concert went on, I found myself completely still and watching/listening so intently that I almost had to remind myself to breathe. The man seated to my left would occasionally smile and nod towards me if something interesting or funny was said by the speakers, and I would smile back and act like I knew what was so interesting :-) He was kind and let me look over his shoulder at his program a few times, and when he discovered I am American, he quietly translated a few key things for me.
Since I was in the front row, I didn't take any pictures during the concert because I didn't want to disturb anyone. I did take a picture during the interval from my seat and also one from the top of the hall, though:
The view from my seat.
From the top of the hall, during the interval.
The Apparatjik performance was so interesting to watch. The music itself I can't describe, because I don't have the knowledge or vocabulary to even attempt it - the video I posted the other day is enough to give you a sense of that. The guys were awesome: Martin threw himself into it, using exaggerated gestures to generate sounds, and Jonas' vocals were entirely free-form - I was surprised when he told me later he had never done that before, because it sounded very cool - and Magne busied himself with, um, whatever he was doing. Towards the end, a beautiful singer named Concha Buika and her pianist Ivan joined the performance and kicked things up to 11. She sang a bit with Jonas, and then when Apparatjik left after their composition, she sang another 2-3 songs and left no one in doubt of her artistry. Just wow. I was more impressed with her than with anyone else I saw that night, and that is saying a lot; there was a renowned pianist there performing Beethoven who received a standing ovation. He was amazing, he presumably played flawlessly and with precision, but she sang with such stirring passion, you couldn't help but be moved by it.
During the evening, I met some interesting people and learned a little about the construction of the hall. I also found out that there are two of Magne's ceramic jars outside the hotel on the waterfront side, which I went back to take pictures of in daylight the next morning before leaving town.
Magne's ceramic jars outside the Thon Hotel and concert hall.
As the very first (official) night of the concert hall, there were naturally some speeches, special dedications, introductions, acknowledgements, toasts, and more activity interspersed between the individual performances. They unveiled their beautiful new grand piano with excited ceremony and pride, they told stories (so I gathered), they got the mayor up there to say a few words, there was a kind of audience sing along at one point (kind of a local traditional song, perhaps?), etc. Despite not knowing much Norwegian, it was easy to get wrapped up in it all. I felt very lucky to be there, it was a truly special evening. In years to come, as the concert hall gathers its own history and I watch from afar, it will be nice to always remember I was there on opening night.