Melodi Grand Prix 2015 is going to be a huge party, promises Director General of NRK Thor Gjermund Eriksen. Today the first tickets for next year's final were released, and on the occasion of the Eurovision Song Contest's 60th anniversary, NRK has chosen to bring out the big guns: they are bringing back the orchestra!
Melodi Grand Prix to take place on the 14th March
The Grand Final of Melodi Grand Prix 2015 will take place on the 14th of March and it will happen with the 54-piece Kringkastingsorkesteret (NRK Concert Orchestra) taking prime position in the Oslo Spektrum Arena.
"At NRK we are so lucky to have our own orchestra. We wish to use it in programs that have a wide appeal. We want to produce events that stand out so this is a nice way to make Melodi Grand Prix even bigger", the Director General said.
Between 1960 and 1998 the orchestra had a permanent place at Melodi Grand Prix, but for the past 17 years it has been absent. 2015 is an anniversary year; the Eurovision Song Contest will celebrate its 60th birthday, and at the same time Norway will celebrate 30 years since winning the contest for the first time (Bobbysocks with La Det Swinge) and 20 years since its second victory (Secret Garden with Nocturne).
In order to mark this with a little more grandure, NRK has chosen to abandon the Semi-Final format and put all its resources into creating one magnificent broadcast.
"We are going to produce a huge celebration which pays tribute to these anniversaries and shows that Melodi Grand Prix is still big, alive and important for Norway", Eriksen continues.
30% more song submissions
With the Semi-Finals disappearing, it means that the competition will become even tougher. The Melodi Grand Prix team received 30 percent more songs than last year. Of the 800 submitted entries, only 10 will be chosen to take part in the show.
Music chief, Vivi Stenberg does not want to reveal who these ten artists are just yet but says that she is sitting on several songs that she believes can reach the top in Europe.
Only being able to choose ten songs, instead of 15 like last year has made the job even harder than before.
"The artists won't be able to 'warm up' on a smaller stage like they did in the Semi-Finals, so those chosen to take party must take to the stage at the Oslo Spektrum and deliver the maximum. It's really exciting", said Vivi Stenberg.
Even though the NRK Concert Orchestra is taking part, it doesn't mean that this year's songs will be that different in terms of genre than previous years. How the artists choose to use the NRK Concert Orchestra in their permormances, and to what extent, will also vary greatly. Together, Stenberg believes that the orchestra can contribute to making the final more varied and exciting.
Elisabeth Andreassen - "Sensational!"
When Elisabeth Andreassen and Hanne Krogh won the Eurovision Song Contest with La Det Swinge 30 yeasr ago, the orchestra played a very important role in the competition. Andreassen told NRK that she is very glad that the orchestra is making a comeback to the competition.
"This is going to be sensational and ubelievably fun! Using musicians to back the music is a great pleasure. This is an old tradition and it will mean that the songs will be presented in a way that is fair for everyone. It will be exciting to see which songs do best with such a format", she said.
Andreassen believes that singing with the orchestra will demand a little more of the artists that take part.
"I think it can be a little more challenging. It is easier to hide oneself in a sound picture that one has got used to at home in the living room. With live musicians, you have to listen more and be at one with the conductor and band. But that is what makes you an artist and it's great!", Andreassen continued.
Bobbysocks performing La Det Swinge in Gothenburg in 1985:
Hundreds of millions of viewers await
There are still many pieces that need slotting into place before all the plans for Melodi Grand Prix 2015 are finalised. Also, only a small number of tickets are to be released today (you can check availability at Billettservice.no) with the rest being released when the stage design has been decided.
Project Manager Stian Malme stresses that this is not just about the broadcast in March, but also about what awaits afterwards at the Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna in May.
"Melodi Grand Prix has a number of unique qualities in comparison with other competitions. We only work with original material. This is not a casting show to find the right artist, but to find the best song that can represent Norway in front of millions of viewers. This is the original music competition that for 60 years has gathered the Norwegian people around their TV screens. We are equally as excited every time we send a Norwegian artist to compete alongside other European entries".
He doesn't rule out bring the Semi-Finals back in the future.
"We have arranged Semi-Finals for nine years and they have been a success. This year we are choosing to put all our resources into producing a huge party at the Oslo Spektrum with no expense spared. I think the audience will appreciate this. What the future will bring, I don't know, but we are working continiously to reinvent Melodi Grand Prix. I don't think the Semi-Finals have been buried for ever".
Norway will take part in one of the Semi-Finals of the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna on the 19th or 21st of May, with the Grand Final taking place on Saturday the 23rd of May.