NCO’s most ambitious production to date, ‘concert-theatre’ DSCH premieres in Oslo 3-8 June

Norwegian Chamber Orchestra embarks on a concert-theatre project, ambitious both in scale and artistic scope, around the life and music of Dmitri Shostakovich. Under artistic director Pekka Kuusisto, the visual concert signals a new chapter in the orchestra’s exploration of what a concert can be. DSCH premieres at the Norwegian Opera and Ballet in Oslo with five shows from 3 to 8 June.

In collaboration with some of Denmark’s most prominent theatre professionals the visual concert takes some of Shostakovich’s masterpieces – from chamber music, film music to his Chamber Symphony – and presents them in a new dimension with scenography, visual effects and theatrical narrative. The specially-crafted theatrical and scenographic elements serve as a visual narrative to become a multi-layered, immersive experience. NCO musicians, together with the acclaimed Danish accordionist Bjarke Mogensen, will perform the complex music by heart, in costume and with choreographed moves on stage. 

Artistic Director Pekka Kuusisto comments: “With DSCH, the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra signals a further step in its reinvention and rediscovery of its artistic core. It is one possible vision of what an orchestra could be in 2023 – not only playing at the highest possible level, but completely redesigning the performance situation. Ive not encountered another orchestra whose creative process is so wonderfully un-anchored to what ensembles have traditionally done for their audiences. This group manages to be fearless and unbound in the most organised and efficient way, and Ive fallen head and heels in love with both the spirit of the collective and the personalities of all its members. 

And the best part of the above is that its not ad copy, its actually true. I really love them.”

Meanwhile Per Erik Kise Larsendirector of NCO, saysOur aim is to foster a deeper connection between the audience and the music. By incorporating theatrical elements, we hope to offer a fresh perspective on classical concerts and create a truly immersive experience for our audiences”.

Artistic Director Pekka Kuusisto

Violinist, conductor and composerPekka Kuusisto became Norwegian Chamber Orchestra’s new Artistic Director in March 2020. With plans curtailed during the pandemic, NCO and Kuusisto are now thrilled to bring DSCH to audiences, and are planning at least five different projects delving into new artistic terrain in the coming seasons.

With Pekka Kuusisto as our Artistic Director, we aim to uphold our tradition of extraordinary leadership and innovation within the orchestra. Pekka Kuusisto was our ideal choice to lead our orchestra and maintain its unwavering commitment to exceptional quality and adventurous programming. As a distinguished musician with a remarkable reputation, Pekka brings an international dimension to our collaboration. His unique perspective and artistic vision is shaping the future programming of the NCO, blending cherished traditions with fresh ideas on how to engage and captivate new audiences,” expressed Kise Larsen.

Previous innovative projects 

The orchestra has been committed to redefining the traditional classical concert experience in recent years, beginning under the visionary direction of former Artistic Director Terje Tønnesen. Previous flagship projects include Grieg’s Holberg Suite with choreography, Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony from memory and Gates of Hell, in which the musicians created a visual and aural narrative about the destruction of war, around a memorised performance of Strauss’ Metamorphosen.