Article in Norwegian, published by 22.02.2024

Interviewer: Hilde Holbæk-Hansen on the occasion of Valdre’s summer symphony’s 25th anniversary.

Minor adjustments by the Summer Symphony staff, February 2024.

Read Original Version Here

The first ambassador

For Alexander Rybak, classical music has been a springboard that has given him unimaginable opportunities in many genres.

In 2009, he was the first ambassador for the newly started Playing for A Future. Thanks to income from the concert with Alexander, among other things, a young woman in South Africa was able to get a music education.

Alexander was actually a bit “old” when he took part in Valdre’s summer symphony for the first time in 1998, aged 12. But after that he was there every year throughout his childhood, and when he became a student he continued to visit the course as a teaching assistant, artist and singer.

– The summer symphony gave me faith in my own musical identity, and it meant unity, enjoyment of music and friendship.

There are far too many otherworldly good people and musicians who have frequented the course, so I will only mention Piotr Janowski – truly a genius, emphasizes Alexander Rybak.

Today, Alexander is perhaps best known outside the classical environment, but it was not like that when he first came to Valdres. Father Igor was his first violin teacher. Then followed Alf Richard and Henning Kraggerud, Isaac Schuldman, Geir Inge Lotsberg, Soon-Mi Chung, Stephan Barratt-Due, Eileen Siegel, Detlef Hahn and Piotr Janowski in unprioritized time order. Alexander is careful that all his teachers are mentioned. But not only his own teachers made an impression on him in Valdres.

– A pleasant memory was when I was allowed to ride home to Oslo with Torfinn Hoffart himself as driver. He was a bit of a hero for us kids, both on stage and on the football pitch, recalls Alexander.

He entered Unge Talenter at Barratt Due music institute early on. Then it became the music major at Rud high school in Bærum. And then there was a bachelor’s degree as a performing violinist at the Barratt Due music institute. But before he got his degree, he managed to become a national celebrity by winning the talent competition Kjempesjansen on NRK in 2006.

Even then it was with a combination of singing and acting. Three years later, he made a clean sweep in the international final of the Melodi Grand Prix in Moscow. And then he went on to the international final in MGP also in 2018.

– Despite my background as a classical musician, I like to experiment with music, singing and violin on YouTube, among other things, says Alexander. I have initiated over 80 seminars at home and abroad, where children and adults practice different genres of music for 3-4 days and end with a concert.

The concept has been very successful in the USA as well as Eastern Europe, Benelux and especially in the Nordics. He has also worked with Eurovision artists such as Johnny Logan and Carola, sang for Obama, appeared on stage with Will Smith, and collaborated with DreamWorks in Los Angeles on film music for Dragon Trainer 2.

– Nevertheless, it is the classical music education that is closest to me. I think it’s a great honor to be a kind of ambassador between the two genres, says Alexander Rybak.

Thea (left), Hilde, Ariane, Magnus and Aurora together with Alexander Rybak during Valdre’s Summer Symphony in 2009. From Oppland Arbeiderblad. Photo: Anne Kjønniksen.

Here you can read the interview with Alexander on the occasion of the visit in 2009.

He was also an ambassador for Valdre’s summer symphony Playing for A Future, an initiative to give young people in less prosperous parts of the world an opportunity to develop with the help of music. In the course of ten years, young musicians from Bolivia, Jordan, South Africa and, to some extent, Vietnam, among other things, could visit the summer symphony, get an instrument or support their studies. The project was supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the musicians of the Oslo Philharmonic, Kork and Stavanger Symphony Orchestra as well as all participants in Valdre’s summer symphony and several private donors.

Here Alexander is pictured with the young participants from Bolivia, during Valdres summer symphony 2012. Photo: Tom Henning Bratlie.

Valdres sommersymfoni, 22. juni-2. juli 2012. Alexander Rybak sammen med gjestene fra Bolivia. Foto: Tom Henning Bratlie


Since then, there have been several trips to Valdres.

Alexander during the courses in Valdres in 2013. Photo: Ingvar Skattebu for Oppland Arbeiderblad.

Here you can read the interview with Alexander from 2013.

Alexander still has a close relationship with Valdres summer symphony and it is not impossible that he will suddenly be seen again in Valdres in the future. We welcome him!