Café de Concert



Today - Café de Concert has become the atelier and concert gallery of the young and multitalented pianist and composer Aksel Kolstad. It took him 10 years to brand this concept and turn it into one of the most original and innovating classical concepts in the world. Here´s the story behind...... The Idea The origin and still driving force behind Café de Concert is to present classical music to a larger audience. The genre has by no means the same appeal as pop, rock or jazz. Creating a more relaxed atmosphere, and not to forget Kolstad´s magical ability to present classical music with humor and showmanship, it all results in a more intimate and fun concert format than the traditional solemn style. The idea that classical music can once again become popular music, the way it once was, is the motivation behind the concept Café de Concert. Classical concerts at cafés – Café de Concert recruits musicians, both students and professionals, to play classical music for the people. The goal is to stimulate as well as strengthen everyone’s interest in classical music. The level of musicianship is high, and with a relaxed, positive atmosphere, between the pieces, it is possible to have a cup of coffee, have something to eat or perhaps talk with the person sitting beside you. Café de Concert is an arena for all creative arts. In addition to musical performances, there are regular arts exhibitions and ballet/modern dance performances directed by CdC.  

Packed at Caffe Vivali

Tonight was a super night at Caffe Vivaldi, New York! Aksel performed with the magnificant Curtis Stewart and Amanda Gookin. Kicked the party off with Bartok´s 6 Rumanian dances, the continued with Schumann´s Fantasiestück before wrapping up with the piano trio by Debussy which he wrote when he was 18, just a teenager! The crowd at Vivaldi was great as usual, and after Debussy - the audience turned in to a rock concert-audience! Rock on!!

And then....the party began....!

CdC training program

Yo!! Remember me? I hope so, I am your conscience :-) Especially when it comes to physical activity and that upright posture. My name is still Sondre and I am very proud to be the one person Aksel trust in this matter. I hope you will learn to trust me too.

This months exercise: Alternated front raises with rubber band

Purpose: strengthening and conditioning the muscles keeping your
scapulae in the right place.

1) Fasten the rubberband in a doorknob. Stand upright holding your hands relaxed beside you.
2) Hold the handles firmly lift a straight arm(the right one) up and over your head. Simultaneously you pull the left arm beackwards beside you. Both arms pressing backwards, but one arm in the air and the other beside your hip.
3) Hold for a brief second then calmly bring your arms forward again.
4) Repeat but changing upper and lower arms.

How much: 2 series and 12-20 repetitions (you should feel a light
burning sensation in your muscles)

How often: 1-2 times pr week. Not the same day as important concerts as you may feel fatigued in your upper back before the concert is over. Why: Your upper back muscles keep your posture perfect for as long as they can. If they are out of shape they fatigue early giving you pain and bad posture. Bad posture will give back- and neck problems over time.

This months stretch: Chest, pectoralis minor

Purpose: releasing tension and lengthening the small pectoral muscle

1) Stand in a doorway with your left forearm and elbow touching the doorframe
2) Take a small step forward until you feel the stretch in your chest. Then lean forward a bit more.
3) Try to elevate your shoulder, this would give you a stretching feeling in the lower part of your chest, just next to your armpit.
3) Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds, then push against the door frame with your elbows for 5 seconds. Relax and move forward for another inch or two. This will really stretch and you hold this for 20-30 seconds before you slowly release the pressure and bring your arm down. Now repeat with the right arm.

How much: 2 times as described above with 1-2 minutes rest in between.

How often: 1-2 times pr week. Especially after concerts and long lasting

Why: Your small chest muscle(pectoralis minor) is a quite strong muscle and will shorten fast if not stretched regurarily. And especially if you tend to lean on your elbows during your desk work.

These two exercises combined with the previous ones will keep your posture straight and hopefully keeping you away from pain. But hey - no pain, no game! Put your game face on, folks - and work that boty!!

Caffe Vivaldi, New York

On Thursday September 9th, Caffe Vivaldi (New York) was once again filled with entertainment, laughter and beautiful music. On stage this time were Nathaniel LaNasa and Illya Filshtinskiy, piano, Nick Revel, viola and Curtis Stewart, violin. These funky musicians gave us an enjoyable concert with music by Milhaud, Pleyel and Debussy.

They filled Caffe Vivaldi with a great atmosphere, humour, and performed an outstanding concert where they brought the audience all the way from California, through Wisconsin, to the European cities, Bruxel and Paris (performed through La Californienne, The Wisconsonian, La Bruxelloise and La Pariesienne). Caffe Vivaldi was packed with people! C u next time :)

Next concert is on October 8th @ 9p.m. starring Curtis Stewart, Amanda Gookin and Aksel Kolstad!

Concert on a bridge in Fredrikstad

Last saturday Kolstad wanted to get a little attention about the upcoming Café de Concert-festival in Fredrikstad. I guess he managed just that.... Together with violinist and concert meister of Fredrikstad Chamber Orchestra, Jonas Båtstrand, Kolstad made Beethoven sound all over Fredrikstad from the pedestrian bridge down town.

Young talents at NCC

Last sunday Café de Concert had a season opening at its Nordic Chamber Music Center (Elingaard manor in Fredriktad, Norway). This time we invited young musicians which all were prize winners in the previous national competition for young, classical musicians in Norway. Pianists Eirik Haug Stømner and Christoffer Behn Stensrud, saxofonist Elise Setterberg and flutist Kristin Hammerseth all gave an outstanding performance for a very impressed crowd at the manor. The thing that impressed the most, however, was how these young musicians verbally entertained the audience with great skills! Café de Concert likes this very much! Keep on stayin´cool, youngsters, you are our laid back future!

Season Opening in New York

Caffe Vivaldi,New York, was once again crowded with an amazing audience while the music of Mozart, Bach, and Haydn filled the room with passion. On stage were Curtis Stewart and Jessie Montgomery on violins, NIck Revel on viola and Amanda Gookin playing cello. Joshua Rubin, on clarinet, joined as a guest and made this Saturday night feel very special. Even the people walking outside on the street could not help to stop and look through the windows while the music sang through the keyhole. It was such an amazing and successful concert that managed to bring back classical music to the people of New York once again. Thank you all for coming, c u next time:) Bravo Café de Concert New York-team for produceing your first series in the big apple!

CdC´s Health-program / yoga

Hello, everybody:)

My name is Elizabeth Lyseng, and like most yoga teachers I'm a fan of communicating the value of yoga to as many people as possible. I have a bit of the same relationship to classical yoga as “force of nature” Aksel Kolstad has to classical music: a strong desire to bring it home to people. The tradition that I practice and teach is classical yoga, which is a direct continuation of Swami Satyananda’s understanding of yoga.

Aksel has invited me to write a monthly post on CDC’s blog, with a particular focus on yoga for musicians, and I am very happy to accept! Yoga is a far-reaching topic, and, of course, yoga is for everyone! The way yoga is being portrayed in today’s media, it may seem a little daunting for some. However yoga does not prescribe a certain style of clothing, or what a yogi should or should not practice. Yoga is about taking care of one's body and mind, based on each person’s own experience and the understanding gained through the practice of yoga. Yoga is an ancient science of the body, deriving from a traditional Eastern philosophy where taking care of the whole body is at the core. With the whole body is meant that the physical body is not seen as separate from the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of man. From this holistic viewpoint, an imbalance in the mental, emotional or prana related areas (prana being the energy currents in the body) can manifest as stress in the physical body's weakest organ, or other physically weak areas in the muscles and skeleton. In this first presentation I have chosen to give a general idea of the scope and potential of yoga based on some important truths:

Physical exercise strengthens your body and releases tension
Breathing exercises focus the mind
Relaxation techniques calm the mind and body
Mantras and recitations calm the emotions
Meditation balances the soul

Yoga gives you a stronger and more supple body, increases your ability to concentrate and strengthens your mind. Asanas (physical exercises) and Pranayama (breathing exercises) provide specific stimuli and effects on the organs, joints and muscles. Through relaxation and meditation you can release tension and bad energy, providing more room for reflection, and energy to cope with stressful situations.

Breathing (Pranayama) is one of the most vital processes in the body. The breath affects the activity of every cell in the body, and most important of all, breath has an intimate connection with the activity in the brain. Many people use only a limited portion of their lung capacity. Through Pranayama exercises you can become aware of the full potential of your breathing, and how to use your breath.

Meditation has a surprisingly positive impact on the functions of the body. Through meditation you can get a stronger and more flexible body, which many people believe can only be achieved through strenuous physical exercises. By sitting still in deep concentration over an extended period, energy is focused in the body and mind. Meanwhile, joints and muscles all the way in to the skeleton are strengthened when the body is kept in one position over time. Meditation gives mental power and strength to the mind, so that your body relaxes, lets go of muscle tension, and uses less energy on holding itself up. Through regular meditation practice you will be able to meditate for longer and longer periods without effort.
Relaxation may be practiced in short or long sessions. Through relaxation your body achieves a state that balances between wakefulness and sleep. In this state the skeleton and muscles are invited to accept the favours of gravity and release the body’s full weight onto the floor. Thereby the body lets go of all tensions and quickly achieves a rested state. At the same time the mind releases unnecessary tension, is "reset", and receives a renewal of energy. Relaxation can be practiced anywhere from 5 -10 minutes up to an hour or longer, with immediate effect on the body and mind. Through regular relaxation practice with a yoga teacher you can learn to master shorter sessions of relaxation for self-practice.

Don´t hesitate to contact me for further information. My contact info can be found on the Café de Concert website.
All the best, Elizabeth Lyseng

Unforgettable concert at Nano, Tallin

Despite the fact that the football semifinals between Spain and Germany was going on at the same time as the concert, over 100 people found their way to the wonderful backyard of Nano - and stayed long in to the night after the concert as well.
Kristina, Levi-Danel and Aksel got tons of bravo and bravissimo´s after their last spitfire-pice by Schubert.
Tradition has been made, Nano is Café de Concert´s summer residence in Tallin! Looking forward to see you all there next time!

First Café de Concert-concert in Tallin

Our producers in Estonia, Pille Lille Music Foundation, chose "Museum" - one of several wonderful venues of the Estonian company the "Sparkling Group" - as our first pick. And MAN, was that a success! The event coordinator Helen Löhmus made sure of a full house, and already after the first half the musicians were going on and off the stage several times due to the very enthusiastic audience. On the program was Mozart, Beethoven, Grieg and Schubert. Kristina Kriit and Levi-Danel Mägila totally kicked ass playng with sparkling eyes, which made the "Sparkling Group" glitter in the audience. And once Aksel saw the concert was beeing flimed, well - you know unstoppable Aksel;)

CdC´s Health-program / training

Artistic Director Aksel Kolstad (photo) is very proud to present his very good friend from from his childhood neighbourhood
as Café de Concerts personal trainer in the concepts new health program for musicians. Sondre Bjerke is a fitness instructor and has won several prestigious medals for his great skills and muscle performance


Hello all people of advanced musical creation,

My name is Sondre. Almost everyone who talks english calls me Sondra, a female name. I am a man, 33years of age, like to fish, but almost never get the time....oh can read more about that in my profile on the Café de Concert website.

I have worked as a personal trainer for a while now and have many ideas on how to help musicians to a better performing physique. I can almost see now that many of you reading this have a ? over your head. Musicians and physical development are closely correlated, as hairdressers or truckdrivers. We all need a physique that can handle what we want to do. I hate to break it to you, but here goes: No, your body will not develop ideally to what you do even if you do it a lot. When a body for several hours a week is exposed to sitting in front of a piano, holding a violin with one arm and a chin, holding a piccoloflute to the side and so on, it will develop muscle tension and sore muscles.
Muscle tension, muscle soreness and shortening of muscles will in time bring pain and in worst case, injury.

I know you love your instrument. I know you love to play on it many hours a day. I admire and eny you for haveing such a passion about music, buit please listen to me, because my passion is exercise and nutrition. I love to explain and teach other people how they can avoid injuries and muscle soreness. I love to talk about training and how to get results in every level. It doesn't matter how great you physique is, it is all about where you are and where you are going. I will help you along the way starting today! Every month I will come up with the exercise and the stretch of the month.

This months exercise: Seated row with rubberband

Purpose: strengthening and conditioning the muscles in your upper back and rear deltoids(shoulders)
1) Fasten the rubberband under your feet in front of you sitting with straight legs. Point yuor toes slightly away from you.
2) Hold the handles firmly in front of you and pull your arms out to the side like on the drawing.
3) Hold for a brief second then calmly bring your arms forward again.

How much: 2 series and 12-20 repetitions (you should feel a light burning sensation in your muscles)
How often: 2-3 times pr week. Not the same day as important concerts as you may feel fatigue in your upper back before the concert is over.

Don´t hesitate to contact me for further information. My contact info can be found on the Café de Concert website.

Yours truly in the name of fitness and health

Café de Concert YouTube Channel

The history of Café de Concert

Café de Concert began a few days before the 19th of June 2003 when Aksel Kolstad together with a colleague performed live on Midt i Musikken, a classical music program on NRK radio P2. During the program, the trial concert was announced, to be held at Kastanjen restaurant on Bygdøy Allé in Oslo.

Visit the old Café de Concert media centre HERE

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