As a bassoonist in one of the oldest orchestras in the world, Jeff Marquardt ’11 is living a musical dream in Norway.
Throughout his life, Marquardt has listened to recordings, radio broadcasts and concerts of his favorite classical music. Now he gets to perform those pieces with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.
Earning the chance to play with the prestigious group was not an easy road. It was his 18th audition for professional orchestras and the competition was steep. After earning a spot in the 250-year-old orchestra, Marquardt knew the challenge ahead of working as a professional musician. The orchestra rehearses 15 to 18 hours per week and performs one to two concerts as well. Its repertoire is varied from Bergen’s hometown hero, Edvard Grieg, to new compositions by Norwegian composers.
“In my opinion, orchestras should always have a healthy balance of standard warhorse repertoire – your Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Mahler symphonies – and pieces by modern composers,” Marquardt says. “I’m happy to be performing in an orchestra that values both the old and the new.”
Marquardt also believes as a musician it is his job to make each concert fresh for the audience. It isn’t a matter of just playing the piece correctly; it’s bringing inspiration to each selection.
“People buy tickets to concerts to be transported by musicians who take risks and utilize all of their skills to craft an unforgettable musical experience,” Marquardt says.
And his time as a musician in Bergen has been unforgettable as well. He’s embraced the culture of living in the mountains and hiking in the brisk Norwegian air. Marquardt is grateful his music mentors, including Russ Peterson, pushed him to keep aiming high.
“Even though I am still working hard to become fluent in Norwegian, music is a universal language that can be understood no matter what country you find yourself in,” Marquardt says. “I feel like one of the luckiest people ever to be making music in the most beautiful country in the world.”