Interview with composer Flint Juventino Beppe and conductor Rune Bergmann in connection with the world premiere of Beppe's first symphonyBy Sverre Breivik, Saltenposten | Translated with kind permission from the journalist and newspaper
Thursday, August 15 at 8 p.m. Symphony No.1 «Operientes Mare» Op.89 has its world premiere at the Fjord Cadenza festival in Ålesund. This is the first symphony by composer Flint Juventino Beppe (formerly Fred Jonny Berg), and it is the highly renowned conductor Rune Bergmann and the festival's international orchestra performing the work at Parken Kulturhus.
How did this collaboration between Rune Bergmann and you come about?
— We have not worked together before 2018, when he directed the Polish premiere of the symphonic poem «Heart» Op.27 No.5 - but since then we have kept close contact. I feel that as a conductor and person he has a distinctive approach to music that is very enriching. He contacted me a few months ago and asked me if I would like to write a symphony themed "the sea". He already knew about my strong relationship with nature, and with nature in Saltdal in particular. As soon as he asked, I closed my eyes, travelled to the sea in my head, and new music started playing. Of course, these tones are included in the work. «Operientes Mare» is Latin and roughly means "covering the sea".
You have previously written piano concerts, flute concerts and several symphonic poems. Do you know if this the first symphony written by a composer from Saltdal?
— I don't know, to be honest, but I have not heard of any other. Besides, I don't think this will be the last symphony from Saltdal, says Beppe, laughingly.
Can you say something about where and how you worked to create this work?
- Geographically, I only need to "be there" in my head: that I envisage it all mentally. However, parts of this symphony were literally conceived on the sea bed during a swim I had. The music comes to mind within seconds, I use most of the time to write down thousands of notes, as well as taking into account technical, graphic aspects such as slurs, dynamics and the characteristics of the instruments.
The theme of the symphony is the sea, and many of your earlier works and films depict nature through pictures and music. What is it with Saltdal that so often sparks your creativity?
— I've been lucky enough to grow up with nature close around me. I have wandered a lot around the local seashore (Øyra), spent much time by a special lake (Botnvatnet), and I have been surrounded by mighty mountains, water and sea through every season of the year. Nature has made a huge impression on me; it is a big part of who I am. It would take an endless amount of years to depict all these impressions in art, but what is certain is that Saltdal's nature is present in a large number of my works up until now, and it will also be present in future compositions and productions. The wonderful surroundings will always be a monumental source of the music I write. The nature of Northern Norway and Saltdal has of course also been important in the creation of the new symphony as well. You might say that I allow myself to take the fjord at Rognan and other natural treasures with me on a time travel in the arts.
You have kept a very low profile in the local community for a long time; can you say something about what you've been doing lately?
— I have worked abroad in recent years to be closer to my network, and have had projects in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands with various conductors and musicians. There are practical reasons why I have not been so visible up north.
Do you have other plans for the future?
— I am currently working on several new works, as well as projects belonging to the newly started foundation Philobretto from Rognan. The purpose of this association is to disseminate the art I make on a worldwide basis, as well as to work on mental health aspects. I am fighting a daily battle with Asperger's Syndrome in a conventional world. Fortunately, nature is not man-made, and I like to "talk" to the sea and the mountains. One might say that I communicate with nature through music.
What is it like to publish something as personal as a symphony?
— I really hope that someone can find «Operientes Mare» enriching, and at the same time I would like to take this opportunity to thank those from Saltdal and Northern Norway who have believed in me and my career for several years.
— This symphony is one of the results of their support, concludes a moved Beppe.
Introduction Text | Select language
'Operientes Mare' is Latin and means approximately "covering the sea". Written by composer Flint Juventino Beppe.
When Bergmann asked Flint Juventino Beppe to write a symphony for Fjord Cadenza 2019 themed "the Sea" Beppe saw an immediate connection between two of his earlier works, «Über der Wiese schwebend» Op.88 for flute choir (which unfolds in a lush mountain field) and «Inner Seas» Op.16 (which unfolds inside the brain). With quotes from these works, the journey from land to sea continues in Symphony No.1 «Operientes Mare» Op.89 – and a shimmering field of tension between these elements is painted in the four movements of the symphony «TOWARDS THE SEA», «THE GIANT GLOBULE», «BELOW THE WAVES» and «THE NETHER SUN». Photo: The FJB Fingerprint.
Conductor Rune Bergmann describes Flint Juventino Beppe as a fascinating person and composer.
— It is wonderful to perform his music. His head is filled with it, and he ought to write music all the time, Bergmann says.
Made contact himself
Bergmann made contact with Beppe eight to ten years ago. Having watched the TV documentary EXHALING MUSIC, Bergmann became captivated, and he immediately sent the composer an email.
— I said that if Beppe ever wrote a symphony, I would very much like to premiere it. And now we have reached that point, Bergmann declares contentedly.
More than 60 musicians in the orchestra
Bergmann himself has assembled a festival orchestra consisting of more than 60 of the world's leading musicians. They have practiced their parts individually for a while. Today they will meet for an eight-hour rehearsal session. Tomorrow they will continue with the rehearsals before premiering the work at 8 pm. The concert streaming can be followed at Fjord Cadenza's Facebook page.
— I wish that Beppe had an easier and better life in society. Of course, I wish he were here with us. This is a composer with an enormous talent, and we look forward to performing his symphony, and we are excited about how it will be received. Beppe possesses his own tonal language just like Beethoven, Mozart and Grieg did.
A great composer
Bergmann thinks only the future will tell how great really Beppe is, but in his eyes, it is clear that Beppe's music needs to be preserved today.
— This is a big event for us, and we are extremely happy to get the orchestra together, go through with the rehearsals and premier the work.