A cross-generational sense of togetherness

Concertmaster of Young Philharmonic, Victoria Lewis, has the Oslo Philharmonic’s Elise Båtnes as her mentor. This autumn they will perform a Shostakovich symphony sitting alongside each other in the orchestra in the Oslo Concert Hall.

Written by Fred-Olav Vatne

Elise Båtnes (left) is the concertmaster of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, and Victoria Lewis will be performing as concertmaster in this year’s Ung Filharmoni (Young Philharmonic). (Photo: Fred-Olav Vatne/Oslo Philharmonic)

Young violinist Victoria Lewis from Asker has been an annual participant in the youth orchestra Young Philharmonic since its establishment in 2016. This year, she has taken on an additional challenge: acting as concertmaster, the “playing leader” of the orchestra.

"The concertmaster is the link between the orchestra and the conductor, and should lead all the musicians so the orchestra plays in a unified way" she says.

"It’s a huge challenge with so many musicians involved, but it’s also a lot of fun!"

Victoria has received guidance from the Oslo Philharmonic’s Elise Båtnes throughout the orchestra’s rehearsal period, which culminated in concerts in Lindemansalen at the Norwegian Academy of Music on 26th June and as part of Valdres Sommersymfoni on 27th June.

"I’m learning so much, especially when she’s sitting right next to me shouting “now you have to listen to this group, and now to that one!”. Sometimes one gets so wrapped up in one’s own voice that one forgets that there are other voices that must be heard too. I’m getting a really good insight into the mind of a concertmaster; how she thinks, and who she is listening to when she is sitting in my chair, and after a while I start thinking the same way."

On 27th September, Young Philharmonic will be performing together with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra in Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 at the Oslo Concert Hall, with Vasily Petrenko conducting.

"It’s going to be very exciting. It’s been fantastic being part of the first projects, with a gigantic orchestra and incredible conductors. I’m looking forward to sitting next to Elise and feeling part of the Oslo Philharmonic, at least for a little while."

Victoria Lewis in action as concertmaster during a rehearsal with Young Philharmonic, with conductor Peter Stark. (Photo: Fred-Olav Vatne/Oslo Philharmonic)

"It’s wonderful to be able to pass on my thoughts"

Elise Båtnes (47) greatly enjoys having the opportunity to work with the musicians of the Young Philhamonic:

"It’s hugely interesting and stimulating to have the chance to work with the next generation of musicians, who will hopefully become our new colleagues in a few years’ time" says Elise Båtnes.

"When Victoria tells me about what she has learned, I really feel as if I’ve been understood. I have nearly 30 years of experience sitting in an orchestra and have gained a pretty good insight into what creates optimal results. It’s incredible to be able to pass on my thoughts and experience to someone, and it’s great fun to be working with a bunch of peope who are so receptive and motivated to learn about their field."

Young Philharmonic's programme distinguishes itself from the many comparable offerings she herself took part in as a young musician: 

"Young Philharmonic is a specialised and very well-thought-out programme. The young musicians receive one-to-one tuition while the course is going on, and there is a clear focus on the repertoire being played. The side-by-side concert this autumn adds an extra dimension. I didn’t play with professional musicians until I became a professional myself. For us established musicians it presents a chance to learn and be inspired by young people, and feel a sort of cross-generational togetherness."

The Oslo Philharmonic’s concertmaster is enthusiastic about her young colleague’s efforts in the role so far:

"Victoria is doing a brilliant job. She listens, pays attention, takes responsibility, and commands a natural authority in her role, in addition to playing on a very high level. You need a combination of these particular qualities for it to work."

The pair are looking forward to making a joint effort in the Oslo Concert Hall in September:

"We’ll be sweating and working hard, but we’ll be there to have fun too, even if the music isn’t the most light-hearted of sorts!" concludes Elise Båtnes. 

(Translation from Norwegian: Sarah Osa)