By Kevin Stocks ’02
In a tour of noteworthy moments, Molde was special. Molde is the first home-stay experience of the trip for choir members and we happened to be in the town on the 100th anniversary of women in Norway gaining the right to vote. This being the case, there were some special events and concerts in town in addition to our own concert at Molde Domkirke. Also, our principle host and Dean of the church in Molde, Øystein Bjørdal, sang in the St. Olaf Choir 1971-72. He has hosted the choir in the past (1980, 1993, 2005) and this would be his last time to host before retirement this fall.
After our arrival to Molde and rehearsal for the evening’s concert, host families met the students with signs and cheerful greetings to take them home for dinner and then back for the concert. It was nice that the students could look out and know someone in the audience, because singing for someone you know makes it extra special.
Our expectation for attendees at the evening concert was blown away as the line for tickets stretched out the door. Compared to an estimate of 80 walk-in ticket sales we ended up selling almost 170 (in addition to the online pre-sales). It got a little crazy, to be honest. The total audience was around 500 and they were extremely receptive.
With a large supportive audience, Dr. Armstrong sent notice to the choir during intermission to rehearse the optional piece Arroz Con Leche as an additional encore. Choir President Katie Burk ’13 ran the piece with the choir in the changing room and they added it to the end of the program before Beautiful Savior. It was the first time they performed the piece on this tour and it sounded great. (We sang the piece when I toured Central Europe with the St. Olaf Choir in 2001, so I enjoyed hearing it again.)
Recognizing the importance of this special day — the 100th anniversary of women in Norway gaining the right to vote — Dr. Armstrong took the opportunity during the concert to mention the historical uniqueness of St. Olaf as an institution educating both men and women since its founding. We are very proud of that and the audience reciprocated with loud applause. Coincidentally, accomplished professional women are well represented in Molde, including the mayor and the regional bishop.
Possibly the most flashy and exciting moment of the night was after the performance, when the local municipal band outside the church treated the audience and choir to a concert. After a few rousing American-style marches, the band led a parade of people to the reception location while playing. We marched along right behind them.
Kevin Stocks, an alumnus of the choir, is assistant director of Music Organizations for promotions and marketing at St. Olaf.