Memories of Molde

By Kevin Stocks ’02

Kevin Stocks '02, here with Katie Jenks '13 and Kelsey Hall '13 during a ferry ride, sang first tenor in the St.Olaf Choir from 1999-2002.

Kevin Stocks ’02, here with Katie Jenks ’13 (left) and Kelsey Hall ’13 during a ferry ride, sang first tenor in the St.Olaf Choir from 1999-2002.

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.

The St.Olaf Choir singing in a very full Molde Domkirke.

The choir sings to a capacity crowd in Molde Domkirke.

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.)

Ellie Mears '13, smiles with the Mayor and Bishop of Molde during the concert reception.

Ellie Mears ’15, smiles with the Mayor and Bishop of Molde during the concert reception.

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.

The Molde Municipal Band

The Molde Municipal Band

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.

From Voss to Loen

The time taken to travel from one city to another while in Norway can hardly be seen as a chore. These photos, taken by second alto Ellie Mears ’15 during the ferry ride from Voss to Loen Wednesday, show the truth of that statement.

A small village meets the Gudvangen Fjord between Voss and Loen, Norway.

A small town meets the Gudvangen Fjord between Voss and Loen, Norway.

Gulls follow the choir during the ferry ride from Voss to Loen.

Gulls (affectionately named Fred and Fred by choir members) follow the ensemble during the ferry ride from Voss to Loen.

 

 

 

 

 

See additional images from the choir’s recent travel experiences on their Facebook page.

Voss

By Michael Kyle ’85

Moving from Bergen to Voss on Tuesday, the Choir continues on the final legs of the Centennial tour to Norway. Voss, geographically located in the heart of the Norwegian fjord region, is stunning to say the least. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, lakes and forests, adventurists from around the world come annually to take in all this city offers.

With little time to venture, the Choir still found their share of fun and cultural interaction with an opportunity to share a meal with the “groupie tour” (fans and parents following the Choir). Ellie Mears, relates “The groupie tour met us afterwards and we had a wonderful little banquet with them to celebrate their arrival and our singing. We sang the “Thank you” song after our meal, and one of the ladies who was preparing the food sang a folk tune from the area in response. It was such a cool song – I wish I had recorded it!”

The view of Voss from the choir's Hostel. (Photo credit: Ellie Mears '13)

The view from the choir’s Hostel in Voss.     (Photo credit: Ellie Mears ’15)

After dinner, the choir returned not to a hotel, but to a hostel, sleeping six to a room in three sets of bunk beds (think Kittelsby and Kildahl in a super-sized kind of way). Contrasting from the tour’s normal accommodations, the hostel gave choir members time for laughter, stories and community, s preparing some for the host family stay when the Choir heads to Snåsa. A hostel with views such as those seen in the photo here is certainly far from roughing it.

Michael Kyle ’85 is vice president for enrollment and college relations at St. Olaf.

Bergen — My Home

By Paul Mori ’13
Bergen, Norway

Paul Mori '13, sings first tenor for the St.Olaf Choir.

Paul Mori ’13, sings first tenor for the St.Olaf Choir.

It’s not every day that you get to show your hometown to friends, especially when it’s in a different country. Bergen is one of my two hometowns as I am half Japanese, half Norwegian.

The rainy city is where my mother grew up, and it is where I have spent most of my summers. Just like any other hometown, Bergen is a special city that means different things to me. For example, the quiet suburb of the city is where my grandparents would welcome me, while adulthood is represented by the city center, where I worked for a year.

Now, having spent three full days in Bergen with the choir, the city has become even more special.

Initially, people asked me, “So how does it feel to be back in your hometown?” To be honest, it did not feel too extraordinary. After all, I had been here plenty of times, and staying in a hotel in the heart of the busy city wasn’t exactly a normal homecoming. That said, I was completely fine with it. Now that I have graduated from St. Olaf, I have limited time left with my friends in the choir, and I wanted to be a part of their encounter with Bergen by showing them around, and that is precisely what I ended up doing.

As a special treat, friends of Paul Mori '13 relax on a boat ride back to Bergen town center.

As a special treat, friends of Paul Mori ’13 (Evan Quinnell ’14, Anton Armstrong, Jon Erik Haines ’14, Rachel Dahlen ’13, Jamie Marshall ’14, Olivia Snortland ’14) and his Uncle, relax on a boat ride back to Bergen town center.

We had two “free” days, and on the first one I showed people the city area. Upon taking a group up to one of the seven mountains surrounding the city, I made them walk across the mountainside to my aunt’s house that looks over the entire city. There we ate pizza and chatted away until the sunset … at 11pm!

On another day I took Dr. Armstrong and a few friends to where I live in the suburb. This turned out to be a spectacular day with weather that was nothing short of perfect, and for Bergen that is saying a lot.

We ate prawns on the balcony with my family, swam in the lake (at least some of us did), and took my uncle’s boat back to the city. During these two days Bergen looked the same as it always did to me, but it felt very different. There is something fulfilling about sharing things you love with people you love, and I felt so blessed to have experienced this fulfillment in Bergen.

Paul Mori '13 sings the Bergen city anthem as an encore. The entire crowd stands and sings along!

Paul Mori ’13 is joined by the audience as he sings the Bergen city anthem for an encore. “I felt that the concert gave me the chance to give something back to Bergen and enrich the city with our music,” he says.

My hometown, however, was not the only thing that I was able to share. The concert in Grieg hall enabled me to share the music I love with my friends and family in Bergen, whom I also love. It was not my first time singing in Grieg Hall, but it felt slightly strange to stand in front of people from my city representing a college from across the Atlantic. At the same time, I felt more strongly than ever that I was bringing something meaningful to the audience.

The message and tradition embedded in the music contain powerful values that have become somewhat hidden in modern Norway. Although the audience was a fraction of the city’s population, I felt that the concert gave me the chance to give something back to Bergen and enrich the city with our music.

As we continue our Norway tour, Bergen will simply be one of many wonderful places that the choir has performed in. But for me, the choir’s visit will forever leave a mark that will make my hometown even more beautiful than it was before.

 

‘Geeking Out’ over Grieg

Kerry Auer '13, here with Edvard Grieg, sings alto in the St. Olaf Choir.

Kerry Auer ’13, here with a statue of Edvard Grieg, sings first soprano in the St. Olaf Choir.

By Kerry Auer ’13
Savannah, Georgia

Music is my first and greatest passion. It’s why I came to St. Olaf, why I chose to study vocal performance, and why I hoped to one day sing in this wonderful choir. But if time allowed a second degree, I would have loved to study history.

As a child, my parents dragged my siblings and me to every available museum, art gallery, monument, and historical sight. Their passion for knowledge was passed on at a very early age, and I now eagerly follow their example, taking every opportunity to learn something new about the places I visit.

Imagine my delight then, upon arriving in Norway ― a country with such a rich historical past. I’ve never left the United States before, so being able to walk into a building built as far back as the 13th century is an awe-inspiring experience for me. In Oslo, I visited no fewer than five different museums and still found time to take in other sights such as the Oslo Cathedral, Karl Johans Gate, and the Stortinget.

The choir visits the home now museum of Edvard Grieg.

The St.Olaf choir visits the home, now museum, of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg.

Today in Bergen my two passions ― music and history ― were united when we had the opportunity to visit Troldhaugen, the home of 19th century Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. The choir is currently performing one of Grieg’s works, Hvad est du dog skjön, but my interest in the composer predates our work on this piece.

Earlier this year I fell in love with the music of Grieg as I programed my senior voice recital. My voice teacher suggested I look at Solveigs Sang, and once I heard it, I knew that I wanted it to be a part of my recital. After some further research, I added two other Grieg pieces (En svane and Med en vandlilje) to my final program, and through the study of these three pieces, I came to learn much about the composer. Grieg’s musical style is particularly interesting in that it unites the text painting and harmonic vocabulary of the continental Lieder composers such as Schubert and Schumann with elements of Norwegian folk song. It is these folk idioms ― pedal points, open chords, and folk dance rhythms ― that give Solveigs Sang and many of his works their unique beauty.

Edvard Grieg, warm beneath a St. Olaf Choir jacket, looks out over his picturesque Norwegian home.

Edvard Grieg, warm beneath a St. Olaf Choir jacket, looks out over his picturesque Norwegian home.

Thus, with my passion for Grieg and love of all things historic, our visit to Troldhaugen was sure to bring out my inner music nerd. It was incredibly exciting to see the cabin where he wrote so many of his masterpieces, not to mention the actual piano on which he played them. Seeing the beautiful scenery around the house, one can’t help but wonder if it was that very same view that inspired him to write such classics as Våren.

I knew I was probably calling enough attention to myself what with my enthusiasm for the subject and the sheer number of pictures I was taking, but I couldn’t help but pay one last tribute to Grieg before we left. Looking out over the water towards the beautiful hills of Bergen, I hummed a few bars from Solviegs Sang. I’d like to think that Grieg would have been pleased to know his music is alive and well today.

The Beauty of Bergen

By Michael Kyle ’85

The seventh stop on the Centennial tour to Norway, a longer stay of three days in Bergen provides an opportunity for choir members to relax, regroup, and take in the some of the sights and culture of this wonderful city. Bergen is also the hometown of Choir member Paul Mori ‘13. Located on the peninsula of Bergenshalvøyen and surrounded by mountains, Bergen is breathtaking.

Among the most anticipated highlights of Bergen is Troldhaugen and the house of famed 19th-century Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg. The choir is currently performing one of Grieg’s works, Hvad est du dog skjön, in the centennial tour program. Visiting Grieg’s home, museum, and gravesite offered choir members a chance to connect further to Norwegian history with each note they sing.

Oles make the treck up  Mount Fløyen to a view of Bergen well worth the trip.

Making the treck up Mount Fløyen to a view of Bergen well worth the trip are (from left) Katie Burk ’13, Annie Deering ’13, Christian Weeks ’13, Maggie Burk ’13, and Jordan Boucher ’13.

Bergen’s geographical beauty draws tourists from around the world. The Fløibanen funicular (mountainside railroad) aids in the journey up to Mount Fløyen (320 m above sea level) and provides rewarding panoramic views of the city, harbor, and, in the distance, the fjords of Norway.

 

 

 

Michael Kyle ’85 is vice president for enrollment and college relations at St. Olaf.

The Journey to Bergen

The journey by ferry from Haugesund to Bergen (140 km) Friday allowed the choir a unique view of one of Norway’s most beautiful assets: coastline fjords.

Katharine Jenks '13 and Kelsey Hall '13 take a moment to pose with Anton Armstrong ’78, conductor of the choir, during the Haugesund to Bergen ferry ride.

Katharine Jenks ’13 and Kelsey Hall ’13 take a moment with Anton Armstrong ’78, conductor of the choir, during the ferry from Haugesund to Bergen.

 

(from left) Jonny Bauman, Kirsten Newlin, Katharine Jenks, Kelsey Hall, Erin Schmidt, Siri Jorstad enjoy the ferry from Haugesund to Bergen.

(from left) Jonny Bauman, Kirsten Newlin, Katharine Jenks, Kelsey Hall, Erin Schmidt, and Siri Jorstad enjoy the ferry from Haugesund to Bergen.

See these and other images from the choir’s recent journey to Bergen on the choir’s Facebook page.

Haugesund

By Michael Kyle ’85

St. Olaf Choir members Brett Eisenbeis '13 and Christian Weeks '13 act out a scene from Titanic while enjoying the beautiful sights.

St. Olaf Choir members Brett Eisenbeis ’13 and Christian Weeks ’13 act out a scene from Titanic while enjoying the beautiful sights.

The choir arrived in Haugesund Thursday afternoon after driving a network of winding roads and then taking a quick ferry trip across the beautiful Norwegian shoreline during the journey from Stavanger.

Haugesund has a historically strong bond to the sea. Located on one of Norway’s busiest waterways, the strategically important sound of Karmsund, the shipping and herring trades established the town as a leader of trade and culture in the region. Today the herring is long gone, however, and the town is turning toward the petroleum industry, like its neighbor Stavanger.

The city is host to some of Norway’s largest music and cultural events, including the Norwegian International Film Festival, international jazz festivals, and, this week, the St. Olaf Choir.

Michael Kyle ’85 is vice president for enrollment and college relations at St. Olaf.

Haugesund Performance

The audience entering the

The audience in anticipation outside Our Savior’s Church, Haugesund.

Anton Armstrong ’78, conductor of the choir, directs from the audience.

Anton Armstrong ’78, conductor of the choir, directs from the audience.

Filling yet another stunningly beautiful space with both audience and music, the St. Olaf Choir completed its sixth tour performance Thursday at Our Savior’s Church (Vår Frelsers Kirke), in Haugesund.

The choir receives a standing ovation in Haugesund.

The choir receives a standing ovation in Haugesund.

 See these and other images from the choir’s recent visit to Haugesund on the choir’s Facebook page.