Martin Wåhlberg, Norwegian supporter of Rouen Seine Normande 2028

The Norwegian conductor Martin Wåhlberg is one of the european supporters of Rouen's candidacy to become European Capital of Culture 2028.

Martin Wåhlberg has enjoyed considerable success with the Norwegian period-instrument orchestra Orkester Nord, which he has conducted since its founding in Trondheim in 2018. Under his leadership, Orkester Nord has achieved swift and substantial international renown, and the ensemble’s recordings on the Aparté label have drawn praise far and wide.

Why I agreed to be a supporter?

When I was asked to support the City of Rouen’s bid to become a European Capital of Culture, I accepted immediately, because Rouen is a city that has been close to my heart for a very long time. To be more precise, ever since the years I was a Norwegian teenager and my entire high-school education was spent in the beautiful, historic setting of the Lycée Pierre-Corneille. Rouen is an extraordinary city with exquisite architecture. It’s a city with a long history, and one that bears the scars of that history. Rouen is a rare gem. Its nearness to Paris might sometimes mean it’s obscured by the capital’s immense shadow, but Rouen is a city that deserves to be known for itself, on its own terms. Rouen’s location in Normandy, on the river that connects France with the rest of the globe, with its own landscapes, its own agriculture, its own contact with the outside world, has always made, and continues to make, Rouen a city of rich and varied character. Times and technical means may change, but this extraordinary geographical location, and all the opportunities that come with it, remains. Now we need to bring these opportunities into the 21st century, using the resources and possibilities that new technologies offer so we can build the future, while staying locally rooted and open to all of Europe. This is the meaning of the City of Rouen’s project for its European bid.

What I will do to support the bid?

I can serve as an ambassador and a spokesperson for this project. Because Rouen’s location makes it both a port city and a river city, it has always forged very close ties with international communities. This is especially the case for the countries of the North. During the 20th century, for example, Rouen was home to a Norwegian church for sailors in the commercial fleet. Old sailors in Norway all know the city of Rouen, no exceptions. But these existing networks need to be kept alive, nurtured and renewed for the generations to come. Rouen is a city that deserves to be better-known. With our orchestra, Orkester Nord, through our international activities and to the best of our ability, we can be ambassadors of the ideas borne by the City of Rouen’s ECOC bid.