He walks through corridors he has walked through hundreds of times before. Leif Ove Andsnes was among the first to receive his education here, in the old building in the center of Bergen.
Sounds from various instruments provide a blanket of sound for the march through the narrow corridors. There is almost no sound insulation here.
The students must alternate which practice room to use so as not to disturb each other too much.
– These schools do not tolerate comparison with similar educational institutions in Norway or abroad, believes the star pianist.
– It is cramped, too little space, too poorly soundproofed. Simply for makeshift premises.
World stars and health hazards
Andsnes started here in 1987. 20 years later, another star started his music education at the Grieg Academy.
Opera singer Lise Davidsen is now fighting a joint battle with Andsnes. They think something needs to be done with the building in Lars Hilles gate.
– I had colleagues at the academy who struggled with breathing difficulties and lung capacity when they practiced too much at the Grieg Academy. And it only gets worse and worse with each passing year.
Davidsen talks to NRK from a hotel room in Chicago.
– I think what is happening is sad. It is strange that a country like Norway can have an educational institution with such a high professional level, but such miserable conditions.
Davidsen is not only afraid that students will choose to study music elsewhere, but also that qualified teachers will move away from Bergen and Norway. Andsnes agrees.
– The indoor climate is miserable.
No money in the state budget
– We are afraid that the window will simply fall out.
It is not a proud head of department showing us around what is actually an old children’s school. Randi Rolvsjord thought they would actually be on the move now.
Land and drawings for a new building are in place. Only money is missing before the spade can be put in the ground. But surprisingly for many, no money came from the state budget.
– We thought it was very strange and very disappointing. The new building had already been planned together with Statsbygg. The situation is extremely serious.
This is what it looked like when the music students demonstrated for a new building in October:
Rolvsjord fears it will be difficult to get more artists who have the biggest stages in the world as their workplace.
– It will be challenging. Generally speaking, being a music student with us is a challenge.
Andsnes has – in honor of NRK – played a bit on a piano in a crowded practice room on the fourth floor. He is not impressed.
– The sound hits you when there is so little space. I know that I could not have worked here.
He says he was provoked by the fact that there was no room for a new building in the government’s budget proposal for next year.
Davidsen votes in from Chicago.
– I know there are many things that must be included in the national budget. But it is surprising that a university building like this cannot be given priority. I hope they will reconsider.
But the government and Research and Education Minister Sandra Borch (Sp) think it should not be surprising that no money came this year.
– The plans from the University of Bergen came so late that there has not been time to ensure their quality. Besides, the government has stopped several large construction projects recently, said Borch at the presentation of the budget in October.
A possible new Grieg Academy will cost just under one billion kroner. According to the plan, it should be ready in 2026.