A Midsummer night’s dreamlike concert
Norwegian music delighted at a special Portland Symphony Orchestra performance
Eleanor Froiland Andrews
Music lovers attended a Midsummer Eve program of all-Norwegian music at the Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine, on June 21. Guests were greeted by ladies wearing bunads and other Norwegian images. Loretta Kelley, America’s foremost Hardanger fiddle performer, provided pre-concert music. Kelley has appeared on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion and NPR’s All Things Considered and is President of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America.
The concert opened with the world premiere of the full orchestration of Meridian by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo, an acquaintance of Portland Symphony Orchestra Director Robert Moody and one of the great living composers of choral music. Gjeilo was born in Norway in 1978 and moved to the U.S. in 2001 to study at Juilliard in New York City, where he is currently composer-in-residence with Voces8 and Distinguished Concerts International New York.
Maine Nordmenn member Roger Berle was instrumental in organizing the concert and along with Director Moody enlisted Norwegian violinist and composer Henning Kraggerud as the guest soloist. Kraggerud delighted the audience of 1,900 with Suite for Violin in A Minor by Norwegian composer Christian Sinding (1856-1941), a cousin of Kraggerud’s great-grandfather. He then continued with selections from his own work, Equinox.
During intermission, Kraggerud autographed CDs and guests enjoyed more of Kelley’s music. The second part of the concert continued with Edvard Grieg’s Suite No. 2 from Peer Gynt, op. 55, including favorites such as “Arabian Dance” and “Solveig’s Song.” The concert concluded with “Morning Mood,” “Anitra’s Dance,” and “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from Suite No. 1, op. 46. After the final notes and a standing ovation, a full house exited with the sound of trolls chasing Peer through the Dovre Mountains resonating in their ears.
This article originally appeared in the July 15, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.