by Emma Clara Strand, Gy1
I have chosen to interview a close friend to my family, Madeleine Mortensen. She is a very warm, curious and interesting person with a long career whom I was curious to get to know more.
Strand: Tell me a little bit about yourself!
Mortensen: Hello! My name is Madeleine Mortensen and I’m 52 years old. I live on Lidingö with my husband, my son and my dog. I have my roots in Lebanon, France and Sweden as my father is half Libanese, half French; and my mother is Swedish. Though I grew up in Sweden I traveled a lot as a kid and I also chose a career in which I’ve traveled a lot.
If I would describe myself I would say that I´m a high intensive person with a lot of energy. I am very restless, and is constantly moving towards something as well as developing myself and others. I want to change and improve. I like to think outside the box.
Strand: Tell me about your career! What have you worked with in your life? And what do you work with now?
Mortensen: When I was 15 years old I told my parents that we should have a little talk. I told my parents it was time for me to leave. I knew what I wanted to work with and I was ready to move away from home. I told them that I would like to work with design, photography and fashion. And that became my reality! Except the part where I was planning to move. I stayed with my parents a little bit longer, thank god.
Before I started upper secondary school I took a break and worked for a year as an assistant to a fashion brand. Alongside my work, I took classes in textiles and coloring. I think that was a good and safe start. I started building my career from there.
I started Upper secondary school and studied an Economics program because I wanted to gain knowledge about how to build my own business. That part of my career has helped me a lot because when you understand the money side, as well the creative part, you can successfully build your own business.
I have worked with many things in my life. After upper secondary school I went back to being an assistant to a fashion designer. After that I came up with the idea of working with interior design and furnishing. I started to work in the reception of a furniture company and later on, that led me to work as a sales assistant –– and later on to an architect’s assistant. Around that time, I started doing my own bathroom designing; even though I was only 21 years, old, I was starting to get bored with the furnishing industry.
I looked for other opportunities and got a job in the reception area of an advertising company, and from there I developed into an assistant, and then into a project manager. I started to study at an advertising school and took a course to become a project-leader myself. But I got tired of that too!
By 23 years of age I started my own company as a stylist and designer, etc. The company is called Mad Creative Consulting. I still run that company today.
From when I was 25 and a few years onwards, I tried a number of different jobs, for instance I opened a night club, and I worked as an assistant to varies people –– fashion stylists and party planners like Mikael Bindefeld.
After a number of jobs as an assistant, I got asked by a very successful stylist-agent in Sweden to become a stylist myself. I moved to Paris and there I started working at a fashion magazine that was very popular at the time called Glamour. After a few years in Paris I moved back to Stockholm and continued to work as a stylist, working many years for Diesel and also for celebrities like Mary J. Blige, The Cardigans, Roxette, Monica Zetterlund, Robyn, The Spice Girls and many more!
In total worked as a stylist for seventeen years. It was a really fun and exciting job and I travelled a lot and experienced so much!
After many years of stormy work I wanted to take things more slowly, and start a family. I had a son named Douglas and after that it was difficult to be a good mother and continue travelling in my work, so I looked for a job where I didn’t have to travel.
I got back to interior design and did a lot of home decoration for the interior design store Nordiska Galleriet, as well as various companies and private persons.
After that I started to educate companies about retail and exposure. I did PR-concepts for a number of banks and companies, for example Absolut Vodka.
The French home furnishing brand called Habitat opened up stores in Stockholm and I was given the opportunity to work for them and to manage their stores, the design etc. and I was also involved in creating their webpage and building their brand in Sweden.
I am currently working a lot with my husband, who is a photographer. I help with the strategic part of the work as well as the visual concept for companies and the brands he is working with. You can say I am the project leader on our team. On the side, I also do my own interior design work for various projects, like people’s homes, etc. I am also a mentor, and I also have plans to create my own brand within the interior design industry.
Strand: Do you have any advice career-wise?
Mortensen: I think it’s important to work with something you’re passionate about and are good at. Because you don’t want to dedicate your life to something you don’t find interesting. I also think it’s important to believe that nothing is impossible. If you never take chances you will never reach your dream. Trust your intuition!
Strand: What are you most proud of in your career?
Mortensen: I am actually proud of that I have done so much, tried so many different things. But one thing I am in particular proud of is when I was in Bangkok as a guest on a movie shoot. An American woman who was involved in volunteer work and I started a charity fund. It was to help kids who were sold as sex slaves, and help them to get their lives back. We did it with help from the American and English actors for the movie –– as celebrities, they meant good public relations for the fund.
Strand: Is there anything you would like to add?
Mortensen: I have a saying, that has been with me since I was twelve years old. It goes like this: “‘If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.” – William Blake .
It describes me and my way of thinking. For me things are infinite, there is no end to things because all I want to do is develop and achieve.
by Anastasia Allgulin, Gy1
Marcus Wiander is a drummer currently studying at Lilla Akademien “The Junior Academy” in Stockholm, a school for talented musicians to develop and prepare for a professional musical life. It is recognized as being among the best schools in Sweden specializing in classical music. It also offers a specialization in jazz.
Marcus is sixteen and in his first year of the gymnasium and I (Anastasia, violinist) am his classmate. I decided to interview him because I find him very talented and think he will go far in the music industry. Some day we might call him “that world-class drummer, Marcus Wiander….”
Allgulin: How did it all start? Why did you become a drummer?
Wiander: It happened pretty quickly. When I was two or three years old I just started hitting things. My parents assumed there was musicality in the family; my dad is fairly good at the guitar and my sister has gone to Lilla Akademien. At the age of four I got my first drum set. It was a bad one, but I didn’t know that at the time. I really liked to play and there was absolutely no pressure. There still isn’t.
Allgulin: Have you ever wanted to quit?
Wiander: When I was nine or ten I started thinking about my future working life – I thought that being a purchaser might be a better choice than music. But at thirteen I started to take drumming seriously, and from that day on, I have never doubted my choice.
Allgulin: What’s your greatest performance memory?
Wiander: The performance I’m most proud of is my solo at the Nobel Prize Dinner. First I played a drumroll as everyone came walking in. Then, I played after the dinner on an electric hand drum that sounded like birds since the theme for the party was forests. I played four times, at half an hour each. The first time was at ten p.m. and the party officially ended at two-three a.m. which was the last time I played. When I think about my performances I mostly focus on the bad ones.
Allgulin: Tell me more.
Wiander: One of my worst performance experiences took place in Sturegallerian, two years ago. It was time for us to play, so I started; meanwhile the guitarist hadn’t plugged in the guitar to the speaker. I thought: “Shit, they will not want us back. We’re getting paid for this fiasco.” Ouch, that was an awful experience!
Allgulin: What’s your plan for the future?
Wiander: I’m getting a fantastic education now. It’s really a splendid musical education, also thanks to the fantastic opportunities and the contacts we get: it could be a teacher’s teacher, or people who see us at concerts.Some of us for example get to play for the King.
Obviously the opportunities we get are up to us, so to speak: the amount we practice, if we’re on time and so on – if we are good, motivated students. After gymnasium my plan is to study at The Drummers Collective in New York. This summer was my fifth summer there, and I actually took a test to see if I could get in. And I did!
Allgulin: Do you want to be famous?
Wiander: You can be famous in very different ways. I don’t want to be famous in the sense of being a “thing” people want so they can get money out of you. I would really like to get famous, though, in the sense of that musicians know who you are and recommend you to other musicians. Yeah, I want to be known as a real musician, a really good musician that you can count on.
Allgulin: What’s your dream?
Wiander: My one big dream is to combine a professional drummer’s career with creating perfumes. I am very interested in perfumes. To prepare myself I’ve thought about working at a company, preferably a perfume company. It started three years ago when I began reading about it in a serious way. You can say it is an odd interest.
It’s also a big dream of mine to create a perfume collection, all about music. So my plan is I`m going to have seven different smells with different styles and characters and have a musical piece for every perfume that is supposed to represent that certain smell. My friends at The Drummers Collective all say it’s a fantastic idea.
Allgulin: Are you going to compose the music?
Wiander: I don’t know … Maybe I’ll get help from someone, or I’ll just do it on my own.
Allgulin: How much do you practise?
Wiander: I spend at least one and a half to two hours a day practising. The thing is I have so many concerts, approximately four times a week and half of them are outside of school, so I don’t practise as much as I want to, really.
Allgulin: What’s your practise routine?
Wiander: I usually start with two beats with both hands, then doubling the tempo with the other hand, then I do a six/eight with accents on different notes – I have a whole page with those kinds of exercises. I repeat each bar ten to twenty times and try to feel the music as if it were in my bloodstream. It’s very important in jazz to feel the rhythm and be in touch with those you’re playing with. Then I get on with playing the real pieces.
Allgulin: What’s your motto in life? Something you deeply believe in and and follow?
Wiander: That must be discipline.
I have a great example for you. It’s a scene from Whiplash. Have you seen the movie?
There is one drummer, regarded as “the great drummer” and another drummer who’s there beside him to turn the pages for him. He’s performing a concert and suddenly he loses track of where he is, and the drummer sitting next to him knows this piece by heart, so he smoothly takes over and saves the concert. So now he is “the great drummer.” If one wants to be a musician, one must be talented but one must also have discipline. Both are equally important.
Allgulin: What’s your pet peeve?
Wiander: A thing that annoys me is when people don’t take responsibility: do their homework or come on time for example.
Like, our school has adopted this new rule, that if you’re one to ten minutes late, you’re ten minutes late; if you’re more than ten minutes late you officially have missed thirty minutes of the lesson, and some people were nagging about it at the class council meeting we had today. I’m just like: Don’t come late, then! And if you actually have a legitimate reason for it, like there is a problem in the traffic, then you can just text the teacher, so they don’t enter your absence in the web! But they obviously thought this was way too much of an effort. By texting your teacher, by the way, you get in touch better with that teacher and that’s always a good thing. I come to school at seven o’clock every day because I have repetitions starting at eight. Don’t nag.
Allgulin: Don’t you think that’s really annoying, waking up so early? How do you manage living like that?
Wiander: I’ve gotten used to it. It’s not annoying anymore, at all. It even feels refreshing walking amidst the few people on their way to work that morning.
Allgulin: What are your best characteristics, if one would ask your loved ones?
Wiander: Probably that I’m confident and very good at keeping track of time.
Allgulin: What would someone who doesn’t like you say about you?
Wiander: “You play too loud!” I’m fidgety and move around a lot. I talk pretty fast sometimes, so people can’t understand me. And I sometimes expect too much of a situation; concerts are a common example, when I’m really looking forward to one and someone cancels in the last minute – so I’ve learned that I shouldn’t expect too much. You should just live in the moment.
On Working in the Film Industry
by Hannah Mee von Bergen, Gy1
Jacob Jørgensen is a Swedish film director who has his origins in South Korea. He has been working as a cinematographer for about thirty years, and is also currently pursuing an acting career.
von Bergen: What does your main work consist of ?
Jørgensen: Today I work as a director, mainly here in Stockholm. What I do is commercials, short documentaries and educational movies for different authorities. I also do my own short films.
von Bergen: Are there any movie you’ve produced that I might recognize or know about?
Jørgensen: The work you may have seen that I’ve done is behind as well as in front of the camera. The work I’ve done behind the camera is mainly motion pictures, movie for the cinema, and commercials. One of the motion pictures I’ve done is the action/thriller movie Noll Tolerans which actually was nominated for the Swedish film prize Guldbaggegalan. I’m mainly hired as a cinematographer for feature productions, both in Sweden and abroad.
As an actor in front of the camera, I’ve worked in commercials (Tele2 and Ninja Casino), TV-series (Solsidan) and music videos (Bonka Bonka).
von Bergen: When did you gain an interest for photography and film?
Jørgensen: In 7th grade we had something called “student’s choice” and that is where I chose the theme photography. That’s when my interest for photography started, but I started to study photography as an academic program when I was older.
During my high school years I studied the natural sciences. When I became an exchange student in the US I could choose a subject that wouldn’t be graded, which meant a credit that would not be taken into account for my academic merits. That’s when I chose to study and learn more about photography and the arts without having the pressure to deliver any higher standard to be graded upon.
von Bergen: Did you continue studying photography at the university?
Jørgensen: Yes I did. I enjoyed studying photography and the arts in high school in the US, so I continued pursuing the photo program at the public college on Gotland and a photo college at the University of Gothenburg. During my time in Gothenburg, I got a internship with Swedish independent filmmaker Roy Andersson. After the internship I started working with him. During my time with Roy Andersson, I got István Borbás, who is a cinematographer, as my mentor and coach.
von Bergen: How was it working with Roy Andersson and having István Borbás as a mentor?
Jørgensen: It was great. I really enjoyed my time with Roy and István and I learned a lot. István was very supportive and I was free to ask any questions that came to my mind, I never hesitated to ask anything.
von Bergen: You mentioned that you acted too sometimes. What was the underlying reason you started acting?
Jørgensen: I started acting because I think that you get a better understanding as a director and cinematographer if you know how an actor feels and thinks. I wanted to learn what went through an actor’s mind during the process when we were filming.
von Bergen: Do you enjoy acting as well as being behind the camera?
Jørgensen: Yes, of course I do. It’s fun to act. It’s fun to try different things than just direct or be the cinematographer. You could say that I’m changing careers right now. I want to become a director who directs feature movies and TV-series.
von Bergen: Did you ever consider working with something else?
Jørgensen: Not really, but to try something new, me and my colleagues founded a company called Independent Studios, Independent Decor and Independent Costume several years ago. At Independent Studios we filmed this year’s (2017) Swedish Christmas Calendar on television, the Swedish detective series Beck and a lot of different commercials.
von Bergen: Do you have any other interests than photography and film, or is there any other job that you might have been interested in?
Jørgensen: Yes, when I was younger I thought of becoming an architect, musician, singer or a songwriter. I like to dance too, I like to work with my body and voice.
von Bergen: What is it about your job that you like the least?
Jørgensen: As a cinematographer I work with different people and different clients and that can sometimes be stressful. You have a short deadline because working with film is expensive. I have to get along with everyone which sometimes requires me to be diplomatic and at the same time as being able to get results quickly.
von Bergen: What do you think about your job and career?
Jørgensen: I am so thankful that I found this profession, with all that it demands of me. I love my job. I have friends who are adults my age today, and they are struggling with the dilemma of not having landed a job that they really love yet. I’ve never questioned my career choice and I feel grateful.
by Alvin Vikman, Gy1
Emelia Gardemar is a Swedish musician and teacher, who currently works as principal of the Junior Academy (Lilla Akademien Musikgymnasium), Sweden. In this interview, we will get to know about her musical background as well as her thoughts on music.
Vikman: What did you want to do when you were young?
Gardemar: My family was very musical and at an early age, I gained an interest in music. For instance my family belonged to a church, and that affected me a lot –– I still have the values I learned as a child, about how important it is for people to be generous and share what we have with each other, instead of keeping everything to yourself. Because of that I wanted to do something which allowed me to do just that, to give to others. I remember that during my middle-school years, I considered whether I wanted to continue on with my musical education. I thought that music was kind of selfish in a way, with the amount of time you spend practising by yourself and all of that. But I have realised that you can give a lot through music by playing for –– and together with –– other people, which justified my need to give to others.
Vikman: What are your musical roots? What made you become a musician?
Gardemar: I think that there were two groups of people who inspired me to become a musician. Firstly, my family and school. My mother is a music teacher, and actually it was thanks to her I started playing the violin. My music teachers at school were also really engaged in their work and further inspired me to become a musician. Then there is the church which I was a member of. A lot of what you do in church is based around music. And it was both playing and singing. It got me into music early, which eventually led to me becoming a musician.
Vikman: What opinions do you have concerning music?
Gardemar: When I listen to music I seldom have opinions about it. I listen, experience, and enjoy it, but I don’t believe I need to have an opinion about it. In the past it was important for me to judge and evaluate music, and I think it was important for my development as a musician, as a way to define myself. But these days it’s a lot more about analysing it, and I think that there’s a difference between having an opinion about music –– and experiencing it. Because when you have an opinion about music, you have analysed it in some way. To analyse music is a great way of learning, but I don’t enjoy doing that. Rather, I prefer to simply experience music, without analysing it too much. That way you can enjoy it for what it is, which I think is luxurious to be able to do.
Vikman: What is the best thing you can experience in music?
Gardemar: The best thing you can experience in music, in my opinion, is opera. The thing with operas is that they contain almost everything within not only music, but all art forms –– there is music, costumes, acting. It just contains the entire spectrum of art and expression. I can enjoy normal concerts too, but the totality of operas really make them stand out.
Vikman: What is the worst thing with music?
Gardemar: The worst thing with music is when it gets too commercial. Actually, let me rephrase that. The worst thing isn’t when music gets commercial. It’s not wrong to make money from music, actually, I encourage it. But when music becomes corporate and loses its soul and quality because of it, that’s when I start to condemning it.
Vikman: How did you end up here at the Junior Academy?
Gardemar: It started by my getting a hand injury. I was at the time playing the violin, and to continue playing after the injury would have been difficult. On top of that I was becoming a mother. This forced me to make different choices. I started teaching more, instead of playing. I worked at the Stockholm School of Art. It was there I gained experience working as a leader, which introduced me to working in a leadership role. After that, thanks to a few lucky coincidences, I started working at The Junior Academy, and I’ve remained here ever since.
Vikman: What is your thoughts on the aesthetics programme?
Gardemar: I think that the aesthetics programme is the only educational focus that can give you experience and knowledge which cover almost any scenario you can find yourself in. You get the normal subjects that everyone else gets, like history, but you also get other subjects like music and esthetic communication, which can teach you a lot about life and how to express yourself. These are things we need but don’t get in other programmes, thus leading me to the conclusion that it’s one of the most comprehensive programmes out there.
What we try to do here at the Junior Academy is not to make every student we have to become successful musicians. Our goal is rather to give them an education which they can use to not only to become musicians, but also doctors or lawyers if they want –– an education allowing our students to think in new ways, like entrepreneurs. When our students leave our school, we want them to have a kind of richness of knowledge allowing for multiple possible future paths. That is what we try do here.
by Rita Hugas Söderbaum, Gy1
Fredrik Ullén is a Swedish professor of cognitive neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm –– but he is also a well-known concert pianist who has performed on stages all over the world. Fredrik Ullén and his team focus on researching neuropsychological musical expertise, and are currently collaborating with Guy Madison at Umeå University, as well as Nancy Pedersen and Töres Thorell at the Karolinska Institute on the project Humans Making Music. With this project, they’re researching a number of questions relating to musical engagement and expertise using a combination of techniques from behaviorial genetics to twin-modeling, experimental psychology, neuro-imaging and psychology. Fredrik Ullén was named one of the 33 most talented young scientists 2007 in Svenska Dagbladet’s reportage “Supertalangerna tar plats på scenen” (“The super talented take the stage”). He was also one of the first to record Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabjis “100 Études Transcendantes” and has won awards for his work as a pianist.
Söderbaum: How old where you when you began to play the piano?
Ullén: Music has always been a part of my life. I grew up in a musical home and therefore I don’t even remember when I began playing the piano. I was very young, around five years old or even a little younger.
Söderbaum: What was your dream job as a child?
Ullén: My dream was always to become a musician. As a child I loved to compose and so my dream was to become a composer, but in during my teens, playing piano and sometimes organ took over.
Söderbaum: Who are your favorite composers?
Ullén: It really depends. Over the years I’ve played a lot of modern classical music, composers from both Sweden and other countries, and that’s why different composers have been important to me during different periods. Otherwise I would say Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Scriabin….
Söderbaum: Why did you choose to become not only a professor of cognitive Neuroscience but also a concert pianist instead of just having music as a hobby?
Ullén: The truth is that I couldn’t choose between them, so I chose both. I’ve found a balance between my two jobs but it demands discipline and hard work.
I often practice around three hours in the morning, and in the afternoons I work at Karolinska where I have meetings, discussions and lectures. My schedule looks different from day to day. Before concerts or recordings I practice seven to eight hours a day, and then it’s hard to have time for research, so I often tend to plan on not having concerts and conferences coincide.
Söderbaum: What do you enjoy on your spare time?
Ullén: I like to be out in nature, and to spend time with my family.
Söderbaum: Is it true that you become smarter by playing an instrument?
Ullén: Children who play an instrument actively also become better at other school subjects, and they perform better statistically in IQ-tests of general talent. So there’s a chance that musicianship has positive influences –– but studies can be equivocal and it’s important to remember that the children who begin playing an instrument are often the ones without difficulties in other school subjects. The strongest indicator of positive influences because of musicianship is on linguistic abilities, and not your general IQ.
Söderbaum: Does the brain develop as much by singing as by playing an instrument?
Ullén: You can see effects on the brain when practicing both singing and playing an instrument, but the effects on the brain are not the same. Instrumentalists show other abilities in parts that control dexterity, while singers show abilities in parts that have to do with the voice.
Söderbaum: Studies show that children who start to play an instrument in the early years have a facility to concentrate and focus in other subjects. Do you believe the quality of Swedish schools would increase with obligatory instrumental instruction from primary school?
Ullén: I believe it would be great for children to get the chance to seriously learn an instrument. It could be compulsory on a small scale, but because everyone is different I can’t be sure that it would be a good idea to oblige children who don’t want to be so musically active as you need to be to become good at your instrument (just as it would be unfair to make everyone play sports or chess, etc.). So even if I believe that music has positive influences that can help the children with their other subjects, I also believe the social aspects are even more important. Playing music together can decrease conflicts and create a better cohesion that leads to a positive study environment in school.
Söderbaum: And would that lead to a decrease of diseases such as Parkinson’s, dementia and strokes?
Ullén: I’m not sure that you could reduce the frequency of diseases, but there are studies that show that dance and music can have positive effects on people with these diseases. For example, it has been proven that dancing can help cure Parkinson’s.
Söderbaum: Why do you believe that less people listen to classical music in today’s society? And why is popular music easier musically than classical music?
(Popular music almost never has difficult passages; instead it has relatively simple structures and simple melodies. So could it have something to do with our brains being lazier than before? In today’s society the human brain doesn’t have to think as much for itself when we have computers etc. Or is it a question of culture? Popular music is almost always in English, to make it more easily understandable, while in classical music the listener has to either look up what the piece is about, use their imaginations or previous knowledge.)
Ullén: This is an interesting question, and I actually don’t know why it’s this way. One factor can be the “laziness” that you talk about, that humans are used to fast rewards; surfing on the Internet and not having to make as big an effort to find information etc.
More advanced music such as classical music needs both concentration and background information, which stimulates your brain and you achieve “flow”. When you’re in the “flow”, your experience of time changes, creativity starts flowing and you feel happiness. Another factor can also be that our culture is more democratic than before, less elitist. There has always been a smaller societal group that has taken art-music seriously, but in the past, that group took up more social and public space. The cultural sections of the newspapers didn’t spend as much time debating and reviewing easier pop music; instead classical music dominated, which is very different from today.
It’s the exact same way in today’s schools, where classical music gets less attention than before, which leads to fewer people finding and exploring it. There are probably even more factors that cooperate to this unfortunate societal development.
Söderbaum: Is musicality, according to you, genetic or is it possible for everyone to become a professional musician if they get musical training from an early age? For example, would it be able to go from tone-deaf to almost a perfect pitch?
Ullén: Generally you can say that all human variations we see can depend on interplay between a genetic variation and environmental effects. Differences in musicality definitely have a gigantic component, though practice and experience can influence hearing. Tone-deafness is a special type of hearing that also seems to run in families. There is absolutely also a genetic component there.
Söderbaum: Do you have any good advice for those who are unsure whether to become musicians or choose other careers? Would you recommend studying both music and something else, like you did, or is it better first going to a college of music and then getting further education?
Ullén: I would say that if you are fine with another career and having music as a hobby, I believe it’s a good idea. It’s hard to make a living as a professional musician, and it’s even harder if your’e not 100% devoted. Otherwise I believe going to a college of music after high school is a good idea.
By Evelina Rimkuse, Gy1
A great writer once said: “But time is life itself, and life resides in the human heart. And the more people saved, the less they had.” With time being the most precious thing and most people not able to afford it, a lot of the essential pillars of life go unnoticed. Ironically enough, it is exactly the people who master the magic of making time seem absolutely unimportant who receive the least attention.
Josef Elias and Emilio Pezoa Amigo are leaders of Southside Youth Club, and undoubtedly dedicated shapers of our future generations. I got the chance to discuss the pros and cons of their profession, as well as take a look at the everyday life at their youth club, with them.
Photo: Emilio Pezoa Amigo and Josef Elias in their jackets showing the logos of their Southside youth club, in Tumba.
Rimkuse: Do you think teenagers listen to you more than to their teachers?
Amigo: Yes, I think so. Because we are not just their leaders, we are not just their role models –– we are also their friends. So it does get more personal. They come to the youth club, even the ones that are feeling down, and open themselves up and try to solve their problems with our help. We take care of stuff like that. We are very observant when it comes to these things.
Rimkuse: What do you see as the purpose of your work here?
Elias: We are very media oriented so our aim is to raise our visitors’, our adolescents’, dreams as well as their visions, and somehow try to help them exceed their goals. Besides, we influence their ability to think in adult ways… Practically, we are shaping these youths. We teach them how they are supposed to be once they actually enter adult society. So it is a very strong beginning point for the teenagers. And we believe we are at least a contributing factor.
Rimkuse: You mentioned focusing on media, and on your website the impression of working with music and film is even stronger. Could you tell me a bit more about your individual work-processes?
Elias: Well, we do have our own specializations. Emilio is responsible for music and I’m in charge of film here at Southside. For me it’s mostly about going from preproduction to the final product, there’s more focus on the process of making a movie than actually finishing it. If it gets done then that’s great, but we don’t want the kids to feel any pressure over needing to finish any. Instead, we let them go as far as they want.
Amigo: It’s similar with music, but there it’s more about really wrapping up, from starting and writing a song to releasing something on YouTube or Spotify. We go through a lot of songwriting, production and mixing. There’s a lot to do within music so here they get to test it and feel –– “Okay, if I continue doing music, how will I position myself?” You can be daring and choose two things.
Rimkuse: Is there any chance you might be doing this for money?
Elias: You can’t really work 100% in a youth club, unless you have a very good team. That’s why it’s quite hard to get stuck in a youth club, but both Emilio and I have worked here for a long time and who knows, maybe we will work here up until the age of sixty. The thing is that this is our part-time job; our passions are located in other places too. So what we are doing here is that we are teaching our profession to teenagers, and we are doing what we actually love. In my case I can do movies and get paid for it, which is quite hard otherwise. Emilio gets to do music and get paid for it. So there is absolutely a drive in this, we are passionate about our work. Then of course it’s a lot of fun to be able to influence youngsters in general. After all they are our future.
Amigo: Of course we are doing it for the youths. We do show them our own things too, our personal work. They get impressed –– it’s not like we’re bragging about it, but we mostly do it to show that “you can also accomplish this”. We come from around here as well, we’ve been their age too.
Rimkuse: What do you work with besides the youth club?
Elias: Emilio works a lot within music outside of here too and wants to succeed in music. I, myself am an entrepreneur –– I run several different companies.
Amigo: I would prefer to work with both (in the future). With music and with the youth club.
Elias: Yes, absolutely, why not? As long as you get to have one foot in here and get to feel that you have the influence that you have.
Rimkuse: You talk about influence a lot. That can be expressed in many ways, for example, in the amount of work they put into their studies. Do teens come to do their homework here?
Elias: It happens very rarely to be honest, but it does happen. From time to time.
Amigo: Of course, they do their stuff at home later, but we do not want to say to them: “Come, bring your homework here; come, I’ll help you with your homework!” If they do come to us and say: “Listen, I really need help with this question,” then we help that person. But I don’t think that they think so much about homework when they come here.
Elias: That’s not the point, to sit here and think about all their assignments either –– this is their leisure time. Here they should be able to relax and think about everything else that doesn’t have anything to do with responsibility.
Rimkuse: Do they usually come back and say hi, even after turning eighteen?
Elias: Yeah, it happens all the time. Sometimes we even have to ask them to leave, because they are here too often. This is like their second living room. Thus there is a dip, they disappear for a while after turning eighteen. They get to go out to the pub etc., but then six months, a year passes, and then they are back.
Rimkuse: Is there anything special about Southside?
Elias: We have a very strong hip-hop culture here. So now for two years in a row we’ve done Hip Hop Jam here. It’s been a big event and quite many people attend.
Rimkuse: Have people from the youth club performed?
Amigo: The biggest focus has been on the artists we have here, yes, but we’ve had artists from outside of here too.
Elias: Yes, it’s been very fun. Successful too. There were many teens that wanted to do it themselves, took responsibility and ran it. We were just in the background and supported them. It was fun!
They did in fact have the same jacket on that day, even before deciding to wear their Southside hoodies. Twin jackets, twin youth-club leaders –– quadruple the power. My thanks goes to them for both taking the time to chat, and for their everyday work in general. Keep it up!
by Daniel Xia, Gy1
Rolf Lindblom is a Swedish pianist and professor, who performs both classical music and jazz. He is one of few pianists today to continue the old tradition of classical piano improvisation. He has also taught at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, where he was head of the classical institution. Lindblom also has a long experience with studio recordings, and appears on thirty albums.
Xia: When did you start playing the piano?
Lindblom: I started playing the piano at the age of six.
Xia: Do you come from a musical family?
Lindblom: Yes, I do. My father, Ingvar Lindblom, was an accordion player, and my big brother was a guitarist. We enjoyed playing together in different ways. Another thing we liked to do at home was to sit together and rate recordings, particularly jazz. These are some of my early musical memories.
Xia: Speaking of your father, he was a true king of the accordion. Did he influence your musical education?
Lindblom: Oh yes, he did. What I especially learned from him were the rhythms of the traditional folk dances. By playing with him I developed a feeling for dances such as waltzes, polkas and mazurkas.
Xia: You are one of few pianists to continue the tradition of classical piano improvisation. How did come up with this idea?
Lindblom: It probably comes from my background as a jazz pianist. In jazz you do things like improvisation, but I did not like the environment of jazz clubs. Also, the tradition of classical improvisation is dying. Many great musicians from the classical and romantic period were great improvisers. However that has changed, and in the 20th century classical improvisation became something quite rare. Therefore I asked myself the question: why don´t classical pianists do improvisation?
Then, when I taught at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm I discovered that many of the students were very attached to sheet music; they lacked the freedom, it was a bit stiff. Therefore I decided to create a course in classical piano improvisation at the college. I created all the material for the course, and started teaching. This course was really successful, and many people found it interesting.
Xia: How did you learn your skills in improvisation?
Lindblom: I started doing jazz improvisation at an early age, by listening to recordings and use them as inspiration for my own improvisations. Classical improvisation I started much later, when I decided to create the improvisation course at the college. I basically learned it on my own by studying and researching. I analyzed different pieces, put everything together and structured my work. This is how I learned my improvisation skills.
Xia: How did you decide to become a pianist?
Lindblom: I started my studies with a Hungarian piano teacher. She was alright, but she was not the most inspiring of teachers. It was a bit dull. However I gritted my teeth and continued with my studies. When I turned 15 I came to the attention of a new piano teacher. She was always encouraging and enthusiastic, and it was from this time I really started to love and get into music. I started practicing like never before, and I particularly remember playing Mozart´s A major piano concerto, number 23 with great joy.
Xia: After all this, you then came to study with Stina Sundell. She was a student of Alban Berg and Emil von Sauer (a pupil of Liszt), amongst others. What was it like to study with her?
Lindblom: It was really exciting! She taught me everything about sound production on the piano. With her I learned about how to produce a beautiful sound. I also learned the details of staccato (detached) playing, and beautiful slurring, for example.
Also, she sometimes told stories about her teachers, and I remember listening to those with great interest. After all, her teachers were so close to the other great musicians and composers of the past!
Xia: You have been head of the institution of classical music at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. How did you get that job and how did it feel?
Lindblom: I began working at the college in 1991. I started as a teacher of basic, not very advanced piano playing, and I became head of this particular department. Later I became head of the whole piano department at the college. Then, in 2003 the school went through a decisive reorganization, and I was asked by principal Gunilla von Bahr if I wanted to become head of the classical institution, and I accepted. It was certainly stressful, but I got used to it. In the beginning it was hard with all the responsibility, but I learned to deal with.
Xia: You have made many albums throughout your career, will you continue with that in the future?
Lindblom: Yes, I am planning to do that. It gives me pleasure.
by Xingyu Peng, Gy1
I’ve interviewed pianist Martin Sturfält, who was born in Katrineholm which is same town I’m from. I’ve meet him twice through my piano teacher Eva Annfält.
Martin Sturfält began to play piano when he was four years old because his father played piano and his grandfather was a lead singer. Sturfält went to the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, and has played with many symphony orchestras as a soloist; he has played a lot of chamber music and his own piano concert.
We met at a cafeteria on Sunday afternoon.
Peng: Have you ever thought you would be a pianist?
Sturfält: Well, yes. First you must have a strong will. You can’t think about being anything else than a pianist. This job requires persistence and lots of exercises. If you’re undecided about whether to be a lawyer or pianist, I would recommend you becoming a lawyer, because you must work hard to be a pianist, spend a lot of time practicing and by the way, you can’t earn much money as a pianist. (smile) But working as a pianist is amazing, you can spread happiness and get fantastic colleagues.
Peng: Okay. How many hours do you practice the piano each day?
Sturfält: Since I became a dad with a three-month-old baby, he takes lot attention and lots of our time. You can’t sleep very well, either. So it’s difficult to practice piano on a set schedule, but you can use sporadic times to practice those parts in the piano piece that you need to work on.
Before I went to the music school, I practiced three hours if it was a good day, but that doesn’t happen very often now. On average, I practiced one and a half hours or maybe two hours each day, from I was nine to nineteen. When I started at music school, I practiced much more, almost six hours every day, and that happened quite suddenly.
But remember that practise has to do with quality, not the length. You can manage it in a short amount of time if you turn off your mobile phone immerse yourself in your exercises. When you’re young, you need more hours to improve your technical skills and physical strength.
When you look back on it, you’ll notice that it was fun to practice and figure out solutions to your challenges. It’s also magical, when you discover that you’ve learned some difficult pieces which you like. When I started at music school in England, I played an extreme number of hours a day, probably seven or eight, and I think this kind of period is important.
Peng: Why did you choose Guildhall School in London?
Sturfält: During my first school term at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, there was a guest teacher from Guildhall School who named Paul Roberts. I thought he was a great teacher, so I went to London to have private lessons with Paul, once every two or three months, parallel to my education in Stockholm. After my bachelors degree in Stockholm, I applied to Guildhall and other place in England. Paul and I became good friends, we meet several times a year and he invited me to be a guest at his music class in France durin the summer.
Peng: Did you play many concerts in school?
Sturfält: Yes, and outside school as well. I played together with other people, lots of chamber music. The advantages of chamber music are that you avoid doing all the work by yourself and you can connect to the others’ music. it’s also really important to expose yourself in front of the audience.
Playing in front of peers is terrible because they know you well, but playing together with others is something you miss the most after you finished school.
Peng: How do people get concert opportunities after they graduate?
Sturfält: I’ve played many times in Katrineholm because that’s where I was born, people know me well and offer me performances every two years.
For example I would be recommended by a violinist friend, who plays chamber music with me, to a symphony orchestra and get the opportunity to perform there. People I know can be a way to get opportunities, like a network of contacts.
I can also be pro-active, send mails and CD recordings to concert halls, or contact symphony orchestras and tell them about my experiences, sometimes they give me a chance.
Peng: Which kind of music do you like?
Sturfält: I like all kind of music which can makes people feel a lot in their hearts.
Classical music is so advanced, it’s written two or three hundreds years ago, it has so much to tell us and has also had such a long period of development. But ear-based music is also great. I don’t like the kind of music which the people make it just for the money.
If you want to work with music, you should listen to all genres of music, especially live music. Go to live concerts with your friends. Listen curiously, and try to understand why you like or dislike it, why this part or that chord is so awesome, and how the composer thought.
Peng: How do you make your concerts interesting?
Sturfält: I work with classical music, so it’s harder to interact with the audiences. But you can introduce your pieces, to catch the audience’s attention and make sure they are interested in listening, because pieces are often very long. If you have to listen to a symphony which is around forty minutes long, but have no ideas about it, is would like climbing a huge mountain. With help from the introduction, audiences can also understand your music much better.
We often get a printed program, with pre-determined information about what pianist or orchestra is going to play. To do something which isn’t on the program is fun, and that’s what I’m trying to do, by play the beginning of a piano piece and letting audiences guess what I’ve played. You can improve communication between audiences this way.
Peng: How do you get emotions into the pieces you play?
Sturfält: Classical music is always written down, those notes and lines on paper are the only way we can understand the music which was written by someone who died hundreds of years ago. Composers wrote their notes down accurately, because they knew only the notes could be retained. Try to find all available information, and bring alive it from the notes is absolutely the first step.
Then you can attempt to find learn about the situation in which they wrote the music, and perform what you’ve thought. Were they very poor? Were there any sources of inspiration which they got from someone, somewhere? Where did they play this piece?
When you’re young, you usually get help from other people, for example your instrumental teacher. When you have experience, you can manage by yourself. In the end you will have your own unique style.
Peng: Do you have anything else to say about music?
Sturfält: Music is wonderful and universal. It’s a common language, you don’t need to be philosophical to comprehend it. To play music is fantastic for yourself and listeners.