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.  

Asia #9 Concert in the slum of Bangkok

On Tuesday we got a glimps of the hard reality under the surface of Bangkok. We went out in the slum and played a concert for and with kids living in the slum - litterarely speaking. But some of these kids have been tought playing both the violin and cello by the fantastic Solveig Johannesen, which has been living together with her no less fantastic husband Dag Johannesen in Bangkok for 11 years. Dag as a pastor and Solveig running her own music school at The Immanuel Church/"Home of Praise". "Home of Praise" is a kindergarden and an activity-center which lies under the highway in the slum of Kling Toey in Bagkok. In this slum-area there lives 300.000-400.000 people. "Home of Praise" is a kindergarden during the day for kids between 6 months and 3 years. 30 adorable kids attend it today. In the afternoon the house opens its doors up to everybody and offers different activities like for exemple violin-playing, art, computers, english. It is run by "The Norwegian mission Society".

Before we came to where the concert was to be held we had a mini-mini concert for some school kids from the Immanual Day Nursery at the Immanuel Church.

Then we were taken around the neighbourhood and shown the devestateing images of what kids and elder people has to refer to as "home".

And finally we got to meet the kids at "Home of Praise" - and fell completely in love with them, who wouldn´t! Bjarne had a small work-shop with them, rehearsing Humoreske by Dvorak, Kanon by Pachelbell, Bach double concert in d-minor and the Elephant song - a very famous Thai kids-tune! Aksel and Bjarne opened the concert with some duo-repertoire. The kids AMAZED us with their play and will and eager to learn. All of a sudden, we all forgot what was hidden outside the walls of the house - the slum and devestateing everyday tragedies. Inside the house there was just pure love, music and children´s laughter...

And then began the unforgettable concert with the kids

Watch the video from the concert here:

Here is some information about two of the amazing people working at "Home of Praise".

In 1999 Dag started to work on establishing the congregations work and establish the activity-center "HOP" in the slum of Klong Toey (Nong Mai-district) From 2001- 2005 he worked as a pastor in the Immanuel Church. Since 2004 he has been the Norwegian Mission Company´s representative in Thailand and the Mekong area. He is responsable for all 16 missionaries and their families in addition to supervise all projects with local churches in Thailand and neighbour countries.

Solveig has her education as an organist, pianist, choir instructor and a music teacher from the music conservatoires in Stavanger and Bergn in Norway. She has managed to turn the "Hope of Praise" into a music-school for children where she teaches violin, cello and piano. Some of her students have already been accepted in different music conservatories, and she has so many great talents that we are sure to see in the future in grand concert scenes - thank´s to the wonderful and impressive work Solveig is doing for kids in the slum area of KlingToey.

Asia #8 - First concert in Singapore

Singapore really blew our minds away - who said Hollywood, Dubai, Manhattan or Rio had it all? This city is totally insane! And the technology is really far out! Asia has in my mind won the race of fancy cities in the world with Singapore. I take my hat off! We had a great time performing at the Norwegian Seaman´s Church here in Singapore, having to do encores for a huge and very enthusiastic audience! The day after, Bjarne and Aksel took an afternoon in Chinatown - and now nightlife in Singapore awaits them....

Asia #7 - Boot camp

During every Café de Concert-tour there is ALWAYS a Café de Concert BOOT-CAMP!!
Bjarne and Aksel hit the gym at the Ambhara Hotel after performing for Jotun earlier on Friday.

Asia #6

On Friday we performed at the Jotun fabric in Jakarta with local employees, Jotun´s administration and also members from Statoil in the audience. When Bjarne and Aksel played the 1st movement from Beethoven´s
"Spring-sonata" the audience almost got on their feet! After the concert the guys got a very interesting tour on the fabric and were also given a golden penguin-pin from Jotun which they wore the whole day:) In Jakarta the boys stayed the fancy pancy Ambhara Hotel. Svein-Helge, you are the man!

Asia #5

After leaving Bali we flew to Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, and peformed at the Norwegian Embassy. In the audience were also representatives from the UN in addition to the ambassadeurs and other Norwegians living or travelling through Jakarta, which is an amazeingly huge city by the way. After travelling much of the world you little by little start to realize exactly how small Norway is....but also how wonderful it is to play music by great composers from a small country like Norway in a very big world...There can definitly not be anything more Norwegian than beeing a Norwegian and playing or listening to Norwegian music abroad. During this concert we got a new and very special fan in the audience :)

Asia #4

An amazing place you just have to visit when you travel through Bali where you get traditional Norwegian food in a very, very exotic and exentric place, is "Mormors Hus" (Norwegian for "Grandma´s House") in Kuta, Bali. We made a pit stop there before we took off to Jakarta, and served some Norwegian folk music and a little taste of Aksel´s internal madness before dinner...

Asia #3

On tuesday we performed our second concert (after a teaser-concert earlier the same day) at Gateway College for approximately 100 wonderful Norwegian students.
For the occation the arrangers had rented a very good Yamaha grand piano - which made Aksel
blossom quite much! During the performance all you could hear appart from the music was the waves from the ocean, palm trees conducting the music with its leaves and... the sweat dripping from Bjarne and Aksel - it was SO humid on tuesday, and the result can be seen on Aksel´s t-shirt.... is it? no it can´t be...yes, isn´t it - a heart of loving sweat...?

Asia #2

Our first concert yesterday blasted off with an amazing audience - the enthusiastic Norwegian students from GoStudy. We opened the concert with Halvorsen´s Norwegian Dance nr. 2 and danced through the rest of program at the very cool "Barcode" run by a very cool Dutch owner. Pastor and impressario Svein Helge Rødahl is very happy that we now are rolling and rocking Bali with funky chamber music! Today Aksel went running on the beach at 7 am (freakin´morning bird) and witnessed an amazing Hindu ceremony. Aksel came home speachless and is now considering joining the ceremony tomorrow! Next concert today is at Gateway College, but before that - Aksel and Bjarne is going surfing on Kuta beach!

photos: Vegard Giskehaug

We're going to Asia!

In two days Café de Concert, represented by Bjarne Magnus Jensen (violin) and Aksel Kolstad (piano) is launching the concept in South-East Asia, in collaboration with the wonderful priest and adventuror Svein Helge Rødahl. Once we get the tour going nice and easy we will also do some benefit concerts for children and perform in very poor areas where classical music - or music in general - is not often experienced by children at all. We are very excited about the tour - and we have heard so much about the wonderful Thai Airways so who knows - maybe we don´t ever want to leave the plane..

If some of you might be in the neighbourhood, just email us and we´ll send you the specific adress of where we are performing.

Here is our tour-schedule:

15th of feb, 19.00: Concert for the GoStudy-students, Seminyak, Bali.
16th of feb: Lunch-concert, somewhere in Bali....
16th of feb, 19.00: Concert for the Gateway College-studens, Jimbaran, Bali.
17th of feb, 19.00: Concert at "Mormors hus", Kuta
18th of feb, 18.00: Concert in ambassadeur Hommes recidens, Jakarta, Indonesia.
19th of feb, 12.00: Concert at the Juton-fabric, Jakarta.
19th of feb: Concert for the Gateway College-project
20th of feb, 19.00: Concert at the Norwegian Seamen´s Church, Singapore.
21th of feb 17.00: Concert-performance at the Norwegian Seamen´s Church, Singapore
24th of feb: Concert at the Norwegian Seamen´s Church, Pattaya, Thailand.

Elingaard Manor = Nordic Chamber Music Center

On December 13th Café de Concert unwrapped a special christmas-concert for the inhabitants of Fredrikstad at Elingaard Manor: "Mozart´s Christmasparty". There was a record high full house and the critics wrote "Marvellous Mozart". This was also the beginning for the establishment of Nordic Chambermusic Center at Elingaard, where Café de Concert will use its wide network and invite ensembles and orchestras to have workshops and perform the result in an open concert as well as being a center for contemporary film making.

Café de Concert has received 200.000 NOK to participate in establishing this center and will in 2010 produce 3 big concerts with various large ensembles and orchestras in addition to the 4-5 even bigger projects in 2011. One of the main goals is to gather all classical activities from various scandinavian mansions at Elingaard Manor.

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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