KULTURELT INITIATIV was founded 9th of May 1996 with the purpose of promoting cultural activities in Sandefjord, Norway. Mozarthaven was the popular venue for the performances from the very start.
The summer festivals here focused on classical music: opera, operettas and chamber concerts. The programmes were based on Mozart’s music and Austrian music and culture in general. We benefitted from a close cooperation with The Austrian Embassy – which started already in 1991 by marking the bicentennial of Mozart’s death. Visits of musicians from Mozarteum in Salzburg, staging of the operettas The Bat, The Merry Widow, Gräfin Mariza were peak performances together with the celebration of Schubert’s bicentenary and Austria 1000 years! In 2001 Kulturelt Initiativ’s Artistic Director was honoured with The Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art.
The greatest success in Mozarthaven was without doubt the performance of George Gershwins opera Porgy and Bess in 1998 – in connection with Gershwin’s 100th anniversary. Anne Brown – who sang the role of Bess at the premiere in 1935 – got the rights for producing this staging from the Gershwin family and supervised the whole production.
In the eagerness of using the outdoor amphitheatre at Hjertnes Concert Hall we added the Midtsommer festkonsert to our schedule in 2002. Rodgers & Hammerstein Gala Concert was a fantastic way of starting this concert tradition! We have focused on the music of Phantom of the Opera – through a nice cooperation with The New York Pops Orchestra – Show Boat in Concert, Romeo and Juliet and Music in a Nordic Summer Night – to name a few. The greatest occasion, though, was when Dame Kiri Te Kanawa was the soloist in the Gala Concert in 2011.
Through the whole of 2006 we celebrated the 250th anniversary of W. A. Mozart – from the birthday on the 27th of January till the 5th of December. In 2007 the property of Midtåsen was opened to the public, and we were thrilled by the idea of making the park, the wood, the sculpture pavilion and the villa into the most exciting cultural arena. Kulturelt Initiativ has now produced more than 350 concerts and performances at this venue. Our aim is to make Midtåsen Culture Festival the main arena for classical music in the region. Midtåsen Children Festival is the only festival for children in Norway that is based on classical music and themes.
We are now very much looking forward to celebrating Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th anniversary in 2020. TO BEethoven – or not TO BEethoven will take place from the 29th of January till the birthday on the 16th of December. We are proud to be a partner of the international festival BTHVN2020 and to collaborate with them and The United Nations on the Pastoral Project on the World Environmental Day – the 5th of June. Our own initiative B 3 C – Climate, Culture and Creativity – for the younger generation is greatly supported internationally by the BTHVN2020.