About us


because it's a joy!

After leading the Båstad Chamber Music Festival successfully for twelve years, clarinetist Karin Dornbusch was contacted by entrepreneur Bob Kelly, who had an idea to start an international chamber music festival at the Röda Sten Konsthall in Gothenburg. Why? -Because it’s a joy, Bob replied. And Karin agreed.

A board consisting of, among others, music personalities Paula af Malmborg Ward, Daniel Berg, and Tobias Granmo was formed. After intensive work, FRONTSIDE – Gothenburg International Chamber Music Festival opened in January 2019 with innovative concert programs in exciting environments. Art music from different eras was played, mixing well-known and completely new works with elements of folk music and free improvisation. Young and old mingled both on stage and in the audience. There was listening, watching, talking, and discoveries were made. The ship had set sail.

Over the years, a large number of enthusiastic, hard-working volunteers and generous donors have made this unique festival possible, even during the darkest times of the pandemic.  Once again, it proves that we can make a difference, and that dreams can then actually become true.

purpose and passion

One of the festival’s aims is to showcase the wide range of music that the chamber music form encompasses. It seeks both to preserve the Western music tradition and to participate in creating new works. The festival is geared towards curious music listeners of all ages who want to broaden their horizons. Through happenings, installations, and concerts in spectacular venues and relaxed environments, we hope to attract an audience that has not yet experienced chamber music. The most important thing, however, is to bring joy to people from different generations and different countries. We want to enrich life with music from near and far and, with the help of music, contribute to building bridges between people.

stemming from Gothenburg

Starting from the port city of Gothenburg’s strategic location by the sea and a long tradition of international contacts and exchanges, we looked towards each of the four cardinal directions during the festival’s first years. Thereby forming a cohesive tetralogy, with a break 2021 for the special edition Frontside light- Let the music sound in the middle of the pandemic. 

The festival themes carry several profound messages. It is about cherishing and utilizing music’s unique ability to create respect, learning, understanding, and joy among people from different countries and cultures. It is also about the necessity of these exchanges for renewal and change. A piece is never exactly the same. Each performance is unique, whether it is at home in the living room or on a stage. Music tells a story; it is in constant flux. Music is alive. And this is thanks to the people who convey it! As the saying goes: Where words fail, music speaks.

Themes through the years


First theme:
M/S Transatlantic

With the theme of 2019, “M/S Transatlantic,” we turned our gaze westward. A common thread of American and American-inspired music ran through the festival. The inspiration was the large American ships and emigration to the USA during the 19th and 20th centuries. The theme also connected to today’s situation where people are forced to live in flight and create a new life in a new country.


Second Theme:
to the east

In 2020, the theme was “To the East”. This time, it was the journeys of the Swedish East India Company to Asia in the 18th century that set the tone. During the festival, both older and contemporary music by European and Asian composers, who have been inspired by each other’s musical traditions in various ways, were performed. There’s an overarching message that music has the ability to build bridges between people across countries and continents.


Third Theme: Frontside Light - Let the music sound!

In the midst of the darkest Covid-19 pandemic, Frontside shone in 2021 with a program adapted to the restrictions of the pandemic. The ambiguous theme “Frontside Light” focused on the power of music to console, spread joy, and provide energy. In collaboration with Music in Älvsborg and Älvsborg Parish, all concerts were streamed from Älvsborg Church. Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time was one of the main works and was performed exactly 80 years after its historic premiere in Görlitz.


Third Theme: southerly winds

…where on the green paths one can stroll beneath the crowns of countless trees full of lemons, oranges, and bitter oranges…
From an East India Trader’s Diary

In 2022, FRONTSIDE was carried southward by a warm breeze in the theme “Southern Winds.” Here, we drew inspiration from Italy, Portugal, Spain, and South America. Warm tones in the midst of cold January!


Fourth Theme:
Direction 57° North

When Gothenburg celebrated its postponed 400th anniversary in 2023, FRONTSIDE turned northward under the theme “Direction 57° North,” reflecting Gothenburg’s latitude. We featured composers from Gothenburg, as well as music from countries that have had a significant influence on Gothenburg’s appearance and foundation, including Holland, Germany, Scotland, and England.

Festival management

anders wiklund

Member or the board

Maria Carlsson


Karin dornbusch

Artistic Director / Member or the board

Tobias granmo

Member or the board

Catrin Bernsro

Treasurer / Member or the board

elisabet Gustafsson

Chairperson of the board

A classical chamber music festival with a modern flavour for the open-minded.


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