MUO - exporting the underground

MUO - Musikk (Music) under Oslo is the Norwegian music scene’s latest offering; a festival that’s staged on the subway stations below some of Europe's biggest cities.

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A trip by Martin Revheim (former head of renowned Oslo club Blå, now Managing Director of Kongsberg International Jazz Festival and Norwegian Concert Institute producer) to New York spawned the idea of an underground festival staged at Oslo’s subway stations. The first MUO – Musikk (Music) Under Oslo festival was held on 26 May 2001 at five central subway stations in the Norwegian capital. The festival has since then been expanded to include five subway stations and a wide range of underground acts as well as household names. The cover charge is a valid ticket to Oslo’s subway system, making MUO an affordable and vibrant exposure platform for up-and-coming bands.

It is expected that a crowd in excess of 60 000 will see the 16 bands that perform on the five subway stages on 9 April. Some of the acts that are scheduled to play MUO 2005 include Ost & Kjex, Sternklang, Quarter Past, Whimsical, Anja and Tellusalie. MUO 2005 is staged in partnership with Norwegian independent record label dBut Records as well as Oslo's subway operator AS Oslo Sporveier and Barcelona's Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona.

The 2005 edition of MUO is historical given the fact that the festival is now being exported to Barcelona. On 6 April, Music under Barcelona is staged on two of the city’s central subway stations with Norwegian acts Ost & Kjex, Tellusalie and Årabrot and Spanish bands Cosmicgrass, Las Perras del Infierno, Lirio Zone, The Light and Tremondo hitting the stages.

Future plans call for further expansion of the festival concept to include major cities such as Berlin, Paris and Copenhagen.

One of the fundamental principles of MUO’s festival export initiative is to facilitate cultural exchange: MUO exports Norwegian acts to other European scenes, but will also showcase talent from other host cities at the Norwegian “mother festival”. Spanish act Tremendo is the first band that benefits from this initiative as they’re scheduled to play MUO Oslo and club gigs.

Says Blå’s Chairman of the Board and MUO co-ordinator Sigurd Reinton on phone from Barcelona: “We want to act as a show window for new talent. The Barcelona scene is definitely noticing us down here.”

A complete line-up for the MUO and Music under Barcelona festivals can be found at the MUO site.

The festival is supported by The Fund for Performing Artists, Arts Council Norway and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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