Danish living room concert concept makes space on the sofa for festival goers

Michael Barrett
Michael Barrett - [email protected]
Danish living room concert concept makes space on the sofa for festival goers
Danish jazz pianist Nikolaj Bentzon will perform in a living room during Low-Fi's Vinterjazz 2018 programme. File photo: Torben Christensen/Scanpix Denmark

When Copenhagen's popular Vinterjazz (Winter Jazz) festival kicks off next month, one new Danish musical concept hopes to make it big by going small.


The annual Vinterjazz festival opens in February, bringing a little warmth to a Copenhagen deep into the cold and dark Scandinavian winter. This year, the programme will include venues far removed from acoustically-designed concert halls, jazz clubs and stages.

Low-Fi, a collaborative platform established in 2015, has arranged four concerts at venues that, though diverse, have one thing in common -- their diminutive size.

The organisation is a cooperative of musicians, concertgoers and hosts that work together to provide intimate gigs in small spaces, scaling right down to apartment concerts where you can hear a solo on the sofa before having a beer with the musicians in the kitchen.

The aim of the idea is to give jazz music a backdrop of "candlelights, homely hygge and and alternative take on how jazz can be presented," the group explains in a press release prior to the month-long festival.

"Homely hygge is not an explicit part of the concept, but it is certainly a part of Low Fi's DNA," Jonas Sommer, one of the platform's organisers, told The Local.

"[The idea] is to create a platform that, via 'homely hygge' and informal surroundings, can create unique music experiences. So you could say that homely hygge is a tool in the Low-Fi tool box," Sommer said, adding that he hoped the experience would give both concertgoers and musicians "goosebumps" that could drive an international reach.

But there is more to the concept than drawing off the marketability of hygge and hearths.

Anne Dvinge founded the Low-Fi movement in 2015, after finding inspiration while working on a three-year University of Copenhagen research project on jazz festivals in Europe and the United States.

"Jazz was the first global artform - its element of improvisation allows it to adapt to local music cultures," Dvinge, who has a PhD in American Studies from the University of Copenhagen, told The Local.

Moving concerts out of traditional venues breaks down norms for how both musicians and concertgoers experience live music, she explained.

Photo: Low-Fi

"Behaviour - when can we talk, go outside and so on - all these things are dependent on the venue. Spaces dictate certain rules. When you move music out of that space you mess with expectations. When you break down expectations [people] have a much more open mind for the kind of experience they might have," the Low-Fi founder said, adding that she hopes new spatial and musical expectations can be brought to Winter Jazz through the form.

Dvinge initially had the idea for Low-Fi when, after becoming interested in the relationship between venue and concert experience, she began producing concerts in a villa near Copenhagen. Those concerts encompassed a number of genres, including pop, rock and indie as well as jazz.

"I got more enamoured with what happens in living rooms - spaces that normally tell us to relax," she said.

Venues for Low-Fi's Vinterjazz concerts include a living room in Nørrebro, the basement of Copenhagen City Hall, and an Østerbro villa.

"People perceive the living room as a safe space. They relax and put their feet up, mentally and physically - this allows us to drop barriers and gives a musical experience with less filter compared to urban spaces," Dvinge explained.

"Rules are broken down - for instance, people don't feel they have to applaud during solos. The audience talks to each other even though they don't know each other. You can have a beer with the musician in the kitchen," she said.

The unusual format meant that participation in Winter Jazz was not completely straightforward.

"It is a bit unusual for them, we and they had to jump through a few hoops because we're not a venue - we don't have a physical location, we can't put people's home addresses on the website. But they were really helpful, and Winter Jazz helps us to become part of something larger," Dvinge said.

Tickets for the Low-Fi concerts can be purchased here (availability is limited), where you can also read more about the festival programme. The full Vinterjazz 2018 programme can be found here.

READ ALSO: Danish cities to host global charity concerts in aid of refugees


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