In the fifteen years since its foundation, the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival has quickly acquired an enviable reputation for the quality of its programmes, which juxtapose the very best Scandinavian performers with eminent musicians from throughout the world, attracted by the unique environment for music-making that the festival offers.
The 2019 line-up is particularly impressive. Sir András Schiff, doyen of the Viennese classical tradition, leads an enticing roster of pianists that also includes young Russian, Georgy Tchaidze, and Norwegian Joachim Carr.
Chamber groups include the euphoniously named Trio con Brio from Copenhagen, whose debut CD was praised by the American Record Guide as ‘one of the greatest performances of chamber music I’ve ever encountered’, the Doric String Quartet, one of Britain’s most exciting young groups, and the Engegård Quartet, formed in Lofoten itself.
Meanwhile the tango-influenced sounds of Per Arne Glorvigen, born in Norway and one of the world’s greatest exponents of the bandoneon, will add both variety and atmosphere to this beguiling festival.
Concert venues include intimate churches (many with their own Steinway Grands), and the Lofoten ‘Cathedral,’ the largest wooden building north of Trondheim. Most days feature two or three concerts across the islands, between an hour and an hour and a half in length, a musical intensity amplified by the winding coastal journeys themselves; on more than one occasion, late night concerts take advantage of the wonder of the midnight sun.
Our itinerary starts with a night in Oslo, and a private tour of the opera house, a glacial construction of marble and glass dominating the Oslo Fjord, before flying to the islands. Based in Svolvær throughout thereafter, the tour returns to London via Oslo on the final day.
The tour includes several walks in areas of outstanding natural beauty, led by an experienced local guide. Lying within the Arctic circle, distinctive scenery of deep fjords and dramatic mountains make up the landscape of the Lofoten archipelago and the islands boast archaeological finds from the Iron and Viking Ages.
Oslo. Fly at c. 10.30am from London Heathrow to Oslo (Scandinavian Airlines). Late-afternoon walk through the city with Oslo-based art historian and MRT lecturer, Frank Høifødt (Royal Palace, Town Hall, Parliament) to the new waterfront developments by Niels Torp and others. The latest addition here is Renzo Piano’s contemporary art gallery. Lecture and overnight in Oslo.
Oslo to Svolvær. Fly at c. 11.00am from Oslo to Svolvær (Widerøe). Check in to the hotel, before driving to Leknes for a pre-concert dinner. Evening concert at Buksnes Church, Gravdal. Arvid Engegård (violin), Georgy Tchaidze (piano): Mozart, Violin Sonata K 303; Torbjørn Gulbrandsøy (tenor), Georgy Tchaidze (piano): Strauss, Heimliche Aufforderung, Allerseen, Zueignung; Doric String Quartet: Beethoven, String Quartet Op.131. Return to the hotel by c. 10.00pm. First of five nights in Svolvær.
Svolvær, Henningsvaer. An easy morning walk mostly follows a flat boardwalk around a lake near Svolvær: c. 5 km, c. 1½ hours. Late afternoon excursion to Henningsvaer where there is an opportunity to visit the Kaviarfactory, a restored 1950s factory building housing a collection of modern art. Late evening concert in Henningsvaer Church, Henningsvaer: András Schiff (piano), Yuuko Shiokawa (violin): Mozart, Violin Sonata in A, K.526; Joachim Carr (piano), Engegård Quartet: Dohnanyi, Piano Quintet No.2 in E flat minor. Return to the hotel by c. 11.45pm.
Leknes, Stamsund. Following a late morning lecture, drive towards Leknes for a moderate walk through unspoiled countryside, with impressive views both of the coastline and back towards Leknes: c. 9 km, 3½ hours. We end in the centre of the town in time for an early dinner. Evening concert in nearby Stamsund Church, Stamsund. Trio con Brio Copenhagen: Haydn, Piano Trio in E; András Schiff (piano), Engegård Quartet: Brahms, Piano Quintet in F minor, as well as a further piece to be confirmed. Return to the hotel by c. 10.00pm.
Kabelvåg, Svolvær. A moderate walk following a gravel track around a lake: c. 6 km, 2 hours. There are several inclines and protruding roots make for uneven ground. End in Kabelvåg for lunch. Visit the Galleri Espolin, linking Kaare Espolin Johnson’s work with the history of the region, and Lofotmuseet, a folk museum dedicated to the Lofoten Fishery. Evening concert in Lofoten Cathedral, Kabelvåg. Trio con Brio Copenhagen: Arensky, Piano Trio No.1 in D minor; Doric String Quartet: Ades, Four String Quartet; András Schiff (piano): Piano Sonata in D. Return to the hotel by coach for a brief time before continuing on foot for a late evening concert in Svolvær Church, Svolvær: Torbjørn Gulbrandsøy (tenor), Ingrid Fliter (piano); Schumann, Dichterliebe; Per Arne Glorvigen (bandoneon), Engegård Quartet; P.A. Glorvigen, Violent Tenderness; Anton Dressler (clarinet), Jan Clemens Carlsen (cello), Ingrid Fliter (piano): Brahms, Clarinet Trio. Return to the hotel by c. 11.15pm.
Svolvær, Buksnes. Free morning in Svolvær, before an afternoon visit to a reconstructed Viking village located in Borg, near today’s concert venue. Evening concert in Buksnes Church, Gravdal: a programme by musicians from throughout the festival. Return to the hotel by c. 10.00pm.
Svolvær to London. Fly from Svolvær to London Heathrow via Oslo, landing at c. 6.30pm.
Although we have chosen the walks on this itinerary with due care and consideration, the Lofoten islands are subject to changeable weather conditions which may mean that walks have to be changed or modified at short notice. We follow the advice of local walking guides.
Price, per person
Two sharing: £3,780 or £3,600 without international flights on days 1 and 7. Single occupancy: £4,270 or £4,090 without international flights on days 1 and 7.
International flights with Scandinavian Airlines (economy class, Boeing 737) between London and Oslo; domestic flights with Widerøe (economy class, DHC-8 100) between Oslo and Svolvær; transport by private coach; accommodation as described below; breakfasts, 4 dinners and 2 lunches (including 1 picnic) with a glass or two of wine, water and coffee; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer, tour manager and walking guide.
Internal flights: domestic flights with Widerøe (economy class, DHC-8 100) from Oslo to Svolvær on day 2, and from Svolvaer to Oslo on day 7 are included in the tour price for all participants.
Grand Hotel, Oslo: 5-star hotel in the heart of the city; a short walk from the National Gallery. Thon Hotel Lofoten, Svolvær: a comfortable 4-star hotel on the waterfront with fjord, harbour, or mountain views. Single rooms are doubles for sole use.
This is a walking tour, graded ‘moderate’. While there are only 3 walks, 2 graded ‘moderate’ and 1 graded ‘easy’, we walk on 3 consecutive days following some late nights (although morning starts are leisurely). There is also not always the opportunity to return to the hotel to freshen up before every concert or dinner. It is essential for participants to have appropriate walking footwear, be in good physical condition and to be used to country walking with uphill and downhill content and uneven terrain. (Please see About Us for our walking tour grading system).
In Lofoten the sun does not set in July so daylight is constant, and in Oslo there are only a few hours of darkness. We advise you to bring an eye mask.
Between 10 and 22 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.