Rebecca Matthews Introduces Us To Aarhus – European Capital Of Culture 2017

Rebecca Matthews Introduces Us To Aarhus - European Capital Of Culture 2017

From Iconic International Works to the Definitively Danish – Aarhus Gears Up To Become European Capital of Culture 2017

By Sabi Phagura
By Sabi Phagura

The much anticipated full programme for the European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017 has been unveiled at a buzzing event in the Danish city.

Sabi Phagura flew over to Denmark and caught up with Aarhus 2017 CEO Rebecca Matthews to find out what we can expect in the forthcoming year.

LM: Congratulations on Aarhus being designated as Capital of Culture. Tell us what can we expect in 2017?
RM: Thank you. Aarhus 2017 is going to be a creative tour de force with new works, special commissions, premieres, major events and festivals. And it will encompass plenty of free as well as ticketed events – experiences that are huge and human-scale all at once.

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LM: Can you tell us some of the highlights?
RM: Highlights with a definitively Danish flavour include a spectacular re-telling of Frans G. B Bengtsson’s classic Viking legend “Red Serpent”, a stunning Watermusic show around the harbour featuring singer and composer Oh Land, and Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier’s celebrated film trilogy, re-imagined as opera, dance and theatre performances.

Rebecca Matthews Introduces Us To Aarhus - European Capital Of Culture 2017

LM: And what international influences will be available over the course of the year?
RM: The programme also features a dazzling array of international talent from wider Scandinavia, Europe and beyond, bringing global culture to the Central Denmark Region for the entire year. Under the banner of “Let’s Rethink”, Aarhus 2017 challenges the world to use arts and culture as a means of exploring the choices we must make for our future. Whatever those choices are, they will bring changes to the way we live and work, the places we live in, and the very structure of our society.

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LM: The banner “Let’s Rethink” is very thought provoking. How did this slogan come about?
RM: We are using culture to rethink the city. The word “rethink” underlines the sense of radical change cities are challenged within a world with multiple global challenges which encourage and demand rethinking, reconnecting and rebuilding on many levels. This includes urban infrastructure transport, climate, democracy, diversity, sustainability and financial models.

LM: What difference will being European Capital of Culture make on a bigger scale throughout Denmark?
RM: We hope that the different perspectives and creative energy expressed by the outstanding artists assembling in Aarhus next year will be a catalyst and resource for managing those changes.

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LM: We understand the Aarhus region and its visitors will have the chance to get up close and personal with some of the most exciting cultural talents on the international stage today. Do tell us more.
RM: There are so many to list but to name a few artist-in-residence Anohni, promises a vibrant interweaving of human identities in sound and vision. A performance of “Distant Figure”, a collaboration between one of the legends of contemporary theatre US director Robert Wilson, and the iconic choreographer Lucinda Childs and composer Philip Glass.

Then there will be Australian actor Cate Blanchett who imbues dramatic life into the text collages of the ground-breaking “Manifesto” by German artist Julian Rosefeldt. Choreographer Wayne McGregor and the Paris Opera Ballet will transform US novelist Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Tree of Codes”, with music composed by Jamie xx and scenography by Olafur Eliasson. In addition, there will be a concert featuring pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a project aimed at celebrating freedom, equality and coexistence through music.

LM: That’s really impressive. How long does a project on this scale take to organise?
RM: Launching the European Capital of Culture programme ca not be down without our many volunteers who are our everyday heroes. We are also hugely grateful to the many partners and sponsors who helped make the eight-year dream a reality and whose spirit of Rethinking has been the foundation for the programme.

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LM: Can you name any good restaurants that encompass the cuisine of Denmark in the city?
RM: There are so many restaurants in the country but the Michelin-starred Restaurant Frederikshøj which is run by celebrity chef Wassim Hallal is amazing. We are so big on food here that the city of Aarhus and Central Denmark Region have been awarded the title of European Region of Gastronomy 2017. This is great news for both those visiting the country as well as the citizens.

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LM: What would your ideal luxury day out be like in Aarhus?
RM: When I think of luxury I think of the finer things in life such as the rare events, concerts, performances which you only have a slim chance to see depending on time and availability. For me that would be a visit to the ARoS Art Museum inaugural ARoS Triennial, THE GARDEN – End of Times; Beginning of Times, then to attend the Røde Orm, a spectacular outdoor performance of a captivating tale from the Viking Age, dinner at a top restaurant finished off with going to the Tree of Codes featuring Paris Opera Ballet

LM: Where can we find more information about the events taking place?
RM: Full details of the hundreds of artistic and cultural events taking place in 2017 are featured in the Aarhus 2017 programme guide which runs to a staggering 500 pages.

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LM: And finally, please do share with us your thoughts about what the year ahead will bring.
RM: We are extremely excited about the year ahead. The quality and diversity of the programme we have assembled mean there is truly something for everyone, whether you’re from Aarhus, other parts of Denmark, or visiting from elsewhere. We have created a huge, game-changing year by combining the knowledge of global experts on culture with the views of local people, to determine what quality means in and for arts and culture, here and now.

LM: Thank you for your time.
RM: My pleasure.

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