– Covid demonstrates how important culture is in the Arctic

High North Hero Felix Tschudi donates the prize money to unique cultural project.


– Last year was quite discouraging, it felt, at least in Russia, as if culture was treated as something non-essential, when it’s absolutely not the case

This says Natalia Zazhigina, the leader of Music Alchemy in Arkhangelsk, Russia, a cultural organisation that participated in the competition High North Young Entrepreneur during the High North Dialogue conference in Bodø in April. Natalia explains that Music Alchemy is an art of transformation. 

– We melted together some key elements such as music, theatre, and visual arts, but what we’ve got as a result was something totally new and different.

Spread good vibes

– Music Alchemy is a mix between a concert, a creative workshop, and an art therapy session. Our goal was to transform the audience into active creators. And it seems like we found a perfect formula. 

"–​ Culture is important for 

life in the Arctic"

Even though they didn't win the competition, they will still receive 25 000 Norwegian kroner from Felix Tschudi. When he was awarded the prize High North Hero 2020 during the same conference, he announced in his acceptance speech that he would donate half of the 50 000 kroner to Music Alchemy. 

– I was totally surprised, says Natalia, who adds that she was very moved by Felix’ words.

Because during his acceptance speech, he said during the conference we had heard from many about how important culture is for life in the Arctic, and for human welfare. 

Important: - We have heard from many about how important culture is for life in the Arctic, and for human welfare, said Felix Tschudi during his acceptance speek at High North Dialogue. Photo: Hogne Bø Pettersen/High North Center

– Perhaps it is even more important in these Covid-19 times. I therefore hope that Music Alchemy can benefit from this money and help to spread good vibes in Arkhangelsk and perhaps even beyond the borders of the Arctic.

​​Rock opera

The High North Hero Award is an annual award established by the High North Center for Business and Governance to honor a person, organization or company who has contributed to highlighting or developing the High North during the past year. The award is handed out during the High North Dialogue Conference in Bodø. Every year, the public is invited to nominate candidates.

– Felix Tschudi is a winner who practices what he preaches, said leader of Arctic Frontier, Anu Fredrikson in her speech to the winner. ​

It is Nordland County that finances the 50 000 Norwegian kroner prize, but Felix Tschudi decided to give half of it to Music Alchemy.  The other half was given to the project Clean Seas -Blue Responsibility. 

Natalia Zazhigina 
Leader: Natalia Zazhigina is the leader Music Alchemy

​Natalie says that she is very proud of the activities the project has had so far.

– Prior to the pandemic, we organized a series of what we call more-than-concerts in Arkhangelsk. Live music is used as the main source of inspirations, and the listeners are painting, sculpting, writing poetry and performing alongside the artists.  

"High North is not a territory, 

it's people"

In February 2020 they brought the performance “Severinade” to the stage.

– It is an epic rock opera about a journey through the North. Our project’s biggest achievement has been discovering so many local talents, and I am so proud that Music Alchemy has given them a platform. It feels as great as finding a philosopher’s stone.

​Will make films

She says they would love to collaborate with new artists across the borders. 

– We would love to go on tour one day and perform in remote locations across the North, and ideally work with local artists wherever we go! But for now, we will focus on bringing the project into the digital realm. 

Hence the money will be put to good use.

– We will spend the money on filming equipment. Right now, we are working on our little studio from where we will stream and record our events. We have got a Music Alchemy podcast, artists interviews, online concerts and so much more on the way!

She feels art is the language of human experiences. 

– For me, the main message of the High North Dialogue conference was that we should define High North not as a territory, but as its people. We need to amplify their voices, amplify their creativity. I see art as the most sustainable resource, we need to utilize its healing power before it is too late!​

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