Norway has produced and continues to produce many excellent classical musicians. Once in a while, truly superb Norwegians emerge onto the international scene. Names such as Leif Ove Andsnes, Truls Mørk, Lars Anders Tomter, Tine Ting Helseth, Vilde Frang spring to mind.
Working on the inside of the music industry, as it were, one has the privilege to follow many of the young ´talents´ during their studies, and it´s always interesting to register who stands out at an early stage. It is a known fact, and practically all professional musicians would corroborate this, that what it takes to make it ´big time´ is 10% talent and 90% work. The 90% should be possible, in theory, for anyone to do, if the commitment is there. But that special talent, although it constitutes only 10% of what´s needed, is essential and so rare.
Sandra Lied Haga has it, and what a pleasure it is to follow her progress now as she is on the brink of a truly massive career. The musical activities she has embarked upon in recent years, and the international giants from the music world that have noticed her, are a testament to her qualities.
In Sandra ´s Own Words:
«Ever since I was very young, when Vilde Frang was taken under the wing of Anne-Sophie Mutter, a big dream arose within me; that one day I would also know this legendary violinist. Never had I thought it would actually happen. To play chamber music with Mutter, and at festivals such as Salzburg Festspiele, in Baden-Baden, and even at the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos, for the leaders of the world, gives an indescribable feeling. I have played many concerts, at amazing festivals and in great concert halls, but the scene of Anne-Sophie Mutter is another dimension. To play for her worshiping audience in Salzburg was magical, and these concert experiences will stay with me forever. In the coming years I will be going on several tours with Mutter around the world. In addition to engagements in Europe with some of her longtime scholars.
The long journey – I have received so much guidance and great teaching throughout my studies, with teachers including Truls Mørk and Frans Helmerson. Also from Lars Anders Tomter who, although not a cellist, has given me invaluable guidance and continues to be a wonderful mentor.
It started with Truls Mørk, who through my entire life has been my biggest inspiration and musical hero. I always knew when listening to him that this is how music is supposed to be. To be surrounded by his sound and musicality for so many years has given me so much of who I am as a musician today. In the lessons there were always few concrete work points and few words, it was rather a lot of listening to him play. A very comfortable and fun way of learning, and Truls always made me feel like I was a great cellist that he was very happy with. A few weeks ago Truls´ mother called me to ask if I could step in for Truls. After hearing me play she told me I sounded exactly like him. Well, a massive compliment from anyone, but from his mother in unsurpassable.
Going from Truls’ inspiration-lessons to being picked apart in every possible way by the «cello doctor» Frans Helmerson, was certainly a different and painful process – but so necessary! I could not be happier today for having gone through the gruelling experience of being a Helmerson student. I was pulled apart and then fixed, helping me to improve tremendously technically and gaining control over the instrument.
In 2015/2016 I was the first student ever to be invited for a ´One year Artist Diploma´ at Daniel Barenboim’s new Academy in Berlin. To play for Maestro Barenboim is something I will never forget. Speaking to him afterwards and receiving overwhelming compliments for my Grieg Sonata was enough to live on for a long time. To hear him speak about music and life confirmed to me why he is the legend that he is.
Today I study with the wonderful cellist, and ultimate cello teacher, Torleif Thedéen. It is a special situation, and at times very contradicting, both to be a performing artist, playing concerts and in festivals, and being treated as a professional many places, whilst also still being a student and certainly again being picked apart in every lesson! The challenge for me is to find strength and faith in myself and my own musicality, at the same time at all times being open to receiving corrections and suggestions for improvement from my teacher, whom I admire so much. This really is a perfect situation to be in, and yet at times very frustrating. I am truly grateful to be a student of Torleif Thedéen, who I know is the one who can now help me to reach my true potential as a cellist. Torleif challenges me to the fullest in every direction, giving me so much wisdom and knowledge to fill my music with.
On the near horizon is recording my debut album with pianist Lauma Skride, and also with orchestra, on the Simax label. A very exciting project. Anne-Sofie Mutter connected me with Lauma and we play a recital together in Berlin in a week´s time.
It is indeed exciting to feel that my name is starting to grow, and finding myself being invited to festivals and concerts around Europe, without knowing how they came to think of me, or how they know of me! And speaking of festivals, I´m looking so much forward to Fjord Classics this summer. Most exciting is playing the Schubert B-flat piano trio and the C-major quintet with the amazing Danish String Quartet. Very excited about this one as they are such megastars! I hope I will do the music (the beautiful 1st cello part) and the Danes justice!”