Distinctive feature of Swedish chamber music and how to attract more young people

Bao Tram
Chia sẻ
(VOVWORLD) - On top of pop/rock music known worldwide, Sweden has a lesser known classical/chamber music industry. Today we’ll share with you part of a conversation with Åsa Jäger, a young Swedish soprano, about Swedish chamber music and how to attract more young people to this genre. Åsa just performed a Christmas concert with artists from the Vietnam Academy of Music and a Lucia celebration at the Swedish Embassy in Hanoi.
Distinctive feature of Swedish chamber music and how to attract more young people - ảnh 1

Åsa Jäger at the Christmas concert with artists from the Vietnam Academy of Music (Photo credit: Swedish Embassy in Hanoi)

Bao Tram: Welcome to VOV24/7’s Cultural Rendezvous. Please tell us about yourself!

Åsa Jäger: Xin chao! My name is Åsa Jäger and I come from Sweden. I work as a professional opera singer. I just came to Vietnam for the first time in my life and I had this concert on the 3rd of December. Usually I live in Sweden, but I work mostly in Europe, mostly Germany.

Bao Tram: Your profile shows that you have performed in many big theaters around the world. Now, in Vietnam for the first time, you performed a Christmas concert with artists from the Vietnam Academy of Music on December 3, and then a Lucia celebration on December 7. What is your impression of Hanoi and Vietnam and performing with Vietnamese artists?

Åsa Jäger: Since this is my first time in Vietnam and Hanoi, I was a bit overwhelmed when I got here. I live in the countryside. I don't see a lot of people and here you are a lot of people, but very friendly. I've been greeted so nicely. I really like it here and also to be able to perform with such a big orchestra. I think there were 300 people on stage. I was trying to, with my voice, be heard over that crowd. It was amazing and I also met all these young talented musicians with so much drive and force, it was amazing, inspiring to me.

Bao Tram: Sweden is one of the world’s largest music exporting nations. Why is the music scene in Sweden so thriving? 

Åsa Jäger: I think it's a combination of music schools for really low ages and also a big choir tradition that we have in Sweden, both in music schools but also in churches. And I mean almost everyone I know has at some point been part of a choir. That's like a big thing in Sweden. But I also think now in the 2020s people in Sweden know that music is a big industry and they have seen people making a living out of it. And I think when you have seen people become successful in business with music, you are more prone to trying it yourself maybe. So that's my thoughts on that, that you see as a young person that it's possible and then you dare to dream and you dare to try, and then it just keeps on going.

Bao Tram: Swedish pop/rock music is well-known around the world with acts like ABBA, Roxette, Ace of Base or Europe. But its chamber music remains less popular. Can you tell me why?

Åsa Jäger: I think also in Sweden, we are all like struggling to keep the classical music in time, to keep it young and fresh and to keep the young people coming to opera houses. That’s also a struggle in Sweden. I think when you struggle with something at home, it's also hard for you to bring it out of your country. But I think we're doing stuff to try to get young people to come to the opera houses and concert houses. When I lived in Umeå, my hometown, actually, they were offering free tickets to schools, youngsters in schools. If there were any free seats at an opera show, they could have free tickets. That’s one thing we could do.

Bao Tram: What’s the most distinctive feature of Swedish chamber music?

Åsa Jäger:  Yeah in Swedish music, I think mostly in the choir tradition, but also in the symphonic music and maybe in the chamber music. People are always talking about this light, this Nordic light because we have the midnight sun and I think that translates into the maybe Chamber music, of course, the symphonic music with the big composers Huawei and Stenhammar or the Swedish big composers. And there's a lot of nature involved, always nature. So maybe that's the distinctive things about Swedish chamber music. In my mind it's like it's like looking on the world through a veil, listening to this music, you know it's like….It's not this big dark, wall of sound. It's more like sheer clouds and maybe a light summer rain. So maybe that's the distinctiveness of Swedish sound or aesthetics in music, maybe.

Distinctive feature of Swedish chamber music and how to attract more young people - ảnh 2Åsa Jäger at Lucia celebration in Hanoi (Photo credit: Swedish Embassy in Hanoi)

Bao Tram: You said earlier that the younger audience will find it hard to relate to chamber music and giving free tickets to concerts is one solution.  What else should be done to make chamber music more popular among them?

Åsa Jäger: I think it's a matter of packaging. Like a concert should be marketed in a way that suits young people because all the stories we tell through music, they are all the same stories. It's about love, it's about hearts, heartache, it's about happiness. And that's like universal feelings and thoughts that have been around since the beginning of time. So it's not something strange, this chamber music or classical music. So I think you need to market the music as such. It's just like pop music, but in another costume. I think that's one thing you can do. And also maybe take the classical music to unknown places, maybe not only in the concert halls and the big opera houses, maybe go to a pub and play some classical music. Maybe have a pianist and a violinist at some cocktail bar singing a couple of art songs or doing something so that people that don't usually go to the concerts get overwhelmed, maybe. And oh, what was that? And maybe next week they’ll think, oh, what did I experience at that cocktail bar? Oh, that was lovely. Where can I go to another show? And then you have new people, maybe.

Bao Tram: What’s pitty that I missed your performance at the Vietnam Academy of Music, so I’ve never heard you sing live. I think many of our listeners would like to hear your singing voice. Would you mind singing here in the studio?

Åsa Jäger:  Can I sing whatever I want to? This is a Swedish song but not a folk tune because I could say it's supposed be sung without any accompaniment. So it's meant to be only the voice. And the lyrics is something about “ohh it's so beautiful to hear the voice of an angel and to sing in the beautiful nature and just enjoy life”. That's mostly the lyrics.  

Insert Åsa singing in the VOV studio

Bao Tram: It’s a stunning performance and it’s wonderful to talk with you today and learn more about Swedish music and chamber music from the perspective of a young singer. Thank you, Asa, for visiting VOV.

Åsa Jäger: Thank you for having me.

Underneath is part of Åsa's performance at Lucia celebration at the Swedish Embassy in Hanoi. Have a listen!