This 16-day tour explores the landscape, history and music of Finland, Sweden and Norway. These northern lands have a strong and distinctive musical tradition, expressed not only through their composers – including famous names like Grieg and Sibelius – but also through the many fine conductors, singers and instrumentalists who hail from these parts. Nordic music is often inspired by folk literature and traditions, and travelling through the landscapes that have evoked these ideas will undoubtedly enhance your appreciation of the haunting music of this region.
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The fascinating relationship between Nordic music and the region’s culture, tradition and landscape
Excellent performances by the region’s orchestras and opera companies
Outstanding contemporary Nordic architecture and design in opera houses and concert halls
Stunning scenery, from Stockholm’s island-strewn harbour to the fjords and mountains around Bergen
Norse mythology as a source of inspiration for Nordic and German composers, including Wagner
Eight performances are included, with three operas, two ballets and one concert performance. There will also be two performances included at the Bergen International Festival.
Wagner’s Parsifal at the Finnish National Opera conducted by Pinchas Steinberg
Gringolts Quartet at the Stockholm Concert Hall
Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Swedish Opera
Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier at the Royal Swedish Opera
Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Oslo Opera House
Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake at the Oslo Opera House
Bergen Festival, Norway
Two performances at the Bergen International Music Festival
Days 1–4: In Helsinki, explore sites associated with Sibelius, as well as great architecture and design. Overnight ferry to Stockholm.
Days 5–8: Explore Stockholm’s maritime history and visit Drottningholm Palace.
Days 9–11: Fly to Oslo in Norway to view the Viking Ship Museum, the art of Munch and others, and Oslo’s harbourfront opera house.
Days 12–15: Take a train and boat journey to Bergen for three nights, to enjoy the Bergen Festival and sites associated with Grieg and Ole Bull.
Day 16: Begin Iceland extension, or return home.
A limited number of places remain on this tour and as such, internet bookings are not taken. Please contact our travel consultant listed above if you wish to make a booking.
Finnair offers well-priced flights from Australia direct to Helsinki, for which you earn Qantas points.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Tuesday May 22: Arrive Helsinki
The tour begins at the Hotel Radisson Blu Plaza Helsinki this evening. Meet your tour leader, Robert Gay, for drinks and canapes. (C)
Wednesday May 23: Touring Helsinki
After a talk on this evening’s performance, we take a guided orientation tour by coach and on foot of Helsinki’s National Romantic and modern architecture. We see Alvar Aalto’s Finlandia Hall and Helsinki railway station, the 1919 masterpiece of Eliel Saarinen. We stroll through Senate Square and along tree-lined Esplanadi, the city’s grand boulevard, lined with National Romantic buildings and design shops. This is followed by a welcome lunch in a local restaurant before returning to our hotel where the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. (B, L)
Thursday May 24: Harbour cruise – Parsifal
After a talk on this evening’s performance, we depart on foot and embark on a cruise around Helsinki Harbour. Starting at Market Square, we pass Klippan Island and Kaivopuisto Park, where many embassies are located, before continuing to Suomenlinna, an important fortress used by the Swedes and Russians to protect their Finnish assets. We continue past the King’s Gate of Suomenlinna and a fleet of functioning ice-breakers moored in the harbour before returning to port. There will be time to relax before our Wagner performance commences later this afternoon. (B)
Performance details Venue: Finnish National Opera Program: Wagner’s Parsifal – surtitles in English Performers: Nikolai Schukoff (Parsifal), Jyrki Korhonen (Gurnemanz), Tuija Knihtilä (Kundry), Tommi Hakala (Amfortas), Jukka Rasilainen (Klingsor), Harry Kupfer (director), Pinchas Steinberg (conductor)
Friday May 25: Overnight ferry to Stockholm
This morning we check out of our hotel and depart by coach for Lake Tuusula. In the early 20th century, the shores of this lake hosted an important community of artists and musicians whose houses reflected the nature-loving traditions of the Finnish. First we visit Ainola, Sibelius’s beautiful country home, before making an extended lunch stop at Villa Kokkonen, which was designed by Alvar Aalto for his composer friend Joonas Kokkonen. The current curators of the villa will host us to lunch and perform for us in the beautiful piano-shaped music room. We return to Helsinki this afternoon before boarding the overnight ferry to Stockholm. Our accommodation is booked in A-class sea-view cabins, and dinner is served onboard. (B, L, D)
Saturday May 26: Arrival in Stockholm – Gringolts Quartet
After breakfast onboard, we have a guided coach tour of Stockholm, beginning with the City Hall where the Nobel Prize banquet is held every year. We walk through Gustav Adolf’s Square, named after the hero-king of Sweden, to the Royal Opera House, and then tour the public areas of the Royal Palace to see the lavish décor of the Hall of State and the Royal Chapel. We then drive to Djurgården Island, a popular green space for locals and home to several museums and restaurants. Mid-afternoon, we check into our hotel. (B)
Performance details Venue: Stockholm Concert Hall Program: Haydn String Quartet, op.76, No.1; Beethoven String Quartet, op.127 Performers: Gringolts Quartet
Sunday May 27: Drottningholm
Today we travel to Drottningholm by boat. We tour the Royal Palace, visiting the apartments, gardens and baroque theatre, one of the few 18th-century theatres in Europe with the original hand-driven stage machinery still being used for performances. We return to Stockholm where the later afternoon and evening are at leisure. (B)
Monday May 28: Stockholm – The Sleeping Beauty
Stockholm is a city spread across an archipelago of islands, making the ‘hop-on-hop-off’ boat a perfect way to explore the city. Today we visit the Vasa Museum which displays an almost fully intact 17th-century warship that sank on her maiden voyage in 1628. The ship has been salvaged and is immaculately preserved, having rested on the sea floor for 333 years. Following our visit, you may want to use your boat ticket to explore Stockholm’s myriad islands and attractions. (B)
Performance details Venue: Royal Swedish Opera Program: Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty Performers: Artists of the Royal Ballet
Tuesday May 29: Stockholm – Der Rosenkavalier
After a talk on this evening’s performance, we depart for Prince Eugene’s Waldemarsudde Museum. Formerly the home of the prince, the castle has been converted into one of Sweden’s foremost art galleries. He himself was a celebrated landscape painter and his best-known works are housed in the gallery, alongside his collections of Swedish fin-de-siècle art. There are also works by Picasso, Munch and other contemporary artists. The gardens which overlook the harbour are studded with sculptures by French and Swedish artists. The later afternoon is at leisure before this evening’s performance at the Stockholm Opera. (B)
Performance details Venue: Royal Swedish Opera Program: Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier Performers: Malin Byström (Marschallin), Adrian Angelico (Octavian), Wilhelm Schwinghammer (Baron Ochs), Christof Loy (director), Alan Gilbert (conductor)
Wednesday May 30: To Oslo
We depart for the airport and our early afternoon flight to Oslo. On arrival, we transfer to our hotel and check in. Dinner this evening is in a local restaurant. (B, D)
Thursday Sunday May 31: Exploring Oslo – Don Giovanni
After a talk on this evening’s performance, we depart on foot for the Astrup Fearnley Museum, located on the Oslo waterfront in a Renzo Piano-designed building. The collection is Norway’s most extensive and important private collection of contemporary art with works by Jeff Koons, Anselm Kiefer and Damien Hirst. This is followed by lunch at the Grand Café Oslo, where Henrik Ibsen would often dine. This afternoon we visit the National Gallery which houses Norway’s largest public collection of paintings, including Munch’s The Scream and The Dance of Life. Our performance this evening is at the new Oslo Opera House which is dramatically situated on the edge of Oslo fjord. It opened in 2008. (B, L)
Performance details Venue: Oslo Opera House Program: Mozart’s Don Giovanni – new production – surtitles in English Performers: Johannes Weisser (Don Giovanni), Jakob Bloch Jespersen (Leporello), Brigitte Christensen (Donna Anna), Marita Sølberg (Donna Elvira), Anthony Gregory (Don Ottavio), Richard Jones (director), Christopher Moulds (conductor)
Friday June 1: Viking Ship Museum – Swan Lake
This morning we take a short ferry ride across Olso Harbour to visit the impressive Viking Ship Museum which contains the 1,200-year-old remains of several Viking boats and other decorative Viking artefacts. The afternoon is free before this evening’s ballet. (B)
Performance details Venue: Oslo Opera House Program: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Performers: Artists of the National Ballet, Vello Pähn (conductor)
Saturday June 2: Norway in a nutshell
Today we enjoy an iconic journey across Norway’s mountains and fjords to Bergen. The journey begins with a train trip to isolated Myrdal where we transfer to the Flåm Railway for a spectacular 20-kilometre descent to Norway’s Western Fjords. At Flåm we cruise along the Sognefjord, arriving in Bergen in the early evening. Dinner is in a local restaurant. (B, D)
Sunday June 3: Ole Bull’s Villa – Lunchtime concert
This morning we travel south of Bergen to Lysøen Island on a remote stretch of coastline. Here the 19th-century virtuoso violinist and composer Ole Bull transformed a farm into a superb villa with gardens. The villa harmoniously combines Swiss, Russian and Moorish elements into a highly original design. After a delightful lunchtime concert in the beautiful main salon we return to Bergen where the afternoon and evening are at leisure. (B)
Performance details Venue: Ole Bull Villa, Lysoen Island Program: Grieg Violin Sonata No.1, Schubert ‘Ständchen’, ‘Erlkönig’, ‘Trout’, Tchaikovsky ‘D´un lieu cher’, Ole Bull ‘Cantabile Doloroso e rondo capriccioso’ Performers: Eldbjørg Hemsing (violin), Anna Fedorova (piano)
Monday June 4: Grieg’s Villa
After a talk on this evening’s festival performance, we head to Troldhaugen – ‘Valley of the Trolls’ – the villa built by Norway’s most famous composer, Edvard Grieg. The composer lived here with his wife Nina from 1885 until his death in 1907. We tour the house and enjoy a short lunchtime recital of Grieg’s piano works given by the director of the museum, Audun Kayser. With no suitable performance at the festival this evening we shall enjoy dinner to at a local restaurant. (B, D)
Tuesday June 5: Exploring Bergen – Bergen international Festival
This morning, a local guide takes us through Bryggen, the old port of Bergen, which was part of the extensive medieval Hanseatic League which traded throughout northern Europe and Scandinavia. We enjoy our farewell lunch in a restaurant by the harbour. In the later afternoon, there is time to take the funicular railway high above the city for superb views along the Bergen Fjord before returning for our final performance at the Bergen Festival. (B, L)
Performance details Venue: Grieghallen Program: To be announced Performers: Joseph Calleja (tenor) with Vincenzo Scalera (piano)
Wednesday June 6: Departure
The tour concludes after breakfast. A group transfer to Bergen Airport is available for those returning home or continuing on to the tour extension to Iceland. (B)
Is one of Australia’s leading music tour leaders and music educators. He has designed and led more than 80 performance based tours to Europe and the US.
Since 1987, Robert Gay has managed to combine his passion for music and his love of teaching with his enthusiasm for travel. He has visited the great opera houses and concert halls of Europe and America and heard most of the great singers and instrumentalists of the last half-century. Robert was President of the Sydney Schubert Society for eighteen years, and for several years was a guest lecturer for ADFAS.
After gaining a BA, Dip. Ed. from the University of Sydney, Robert trained as a lyric baritone in London and Munich before turning to the field of music education with a position at 2MBS-FM. He has taught music history courses at Sydney University’s Centre for Continuing Education since 1985. Robert’s musical expertise ranges wide, from baroque to modern. He particular enjoys placing works in their larger contexts – musical, biographical, social and historical.
In the early days, Robert always designed his tours to include a visit behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ – whether it was Berlin, Dresden, Prague or Budapest – thereby providing fascinating insights into a world which has now largely disappeared. His tours, which total nearly 90, have regularly featured the great musical cities of Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Russia, as well as Scandinavia and the United States of America.
“It has been an enormous privilege to have travelled the world for the last 30 years taking groups of music lovers to the great musical and cultural cities of Europe and America,” Robert says. “There is something magical about music – an art form which only truly lives as it is performed – which seems to bind people together so effortlessly and harmoniously.”
“I have always been a great believer in ‘the spirit of place’,” says Robert. “You can read and research and google all you like, but it cannot for a moment match the thrill of standing in the beautiful villa on the shores of Lake Lucerne where Wagner and his beloved Cosima first lived together; or of hearing a service in Bach’s unassuming St Thomas’s church in Leipzig; or seeing a performance in the old Paris Opéra, the auditorium ‘crowned’ by its superb Chagall ceiling celebrating both opera and ballet. Such experiences are treasurable and unforgettable!”
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.