Nordic sounds of Seattle
New Nordic Chamber Music series premieres
Lori Ann Reinhall
The Norwegian American
It’s been said that you can’t stop the music, and when it comes to Nordic music in particular, that certainly seems to be the case in the Pacific Northwest. This month, a new Nordic chamber music series, simply called “Nordic Chamber Music” is opening in Seattle to much fanfare—and yes—even the sound of a Norwegian lur.
Last spring when Artistic Director Laura Loge of the Mostly Nordic Chamber Music Series at the National Nordic Museum in Seattle learned that the museum was putting the series on hold for a year with an uncertain future, a shock wave went through the Seattle classical music community, and she knew something had to be done.
Founded in 1996 by Lisa Bergman, a well-known Seattle pianist and radio host at KING FM, the series had been going strong for 26 seasons and was thriving under Loge’s leadership. A lineup of programs had already been put together for 2023, and fans had begun marking their calendars.
But as the pandemic has changed many things, the National Nordic Museum had decided to re-evaluate their programming, and the chamber music series didn’t make the cut.
But for Loge and a group of musicians and friends supporting her at the Northwest Edvard Grieg Society (NWEGS), a group she founded in 2017, a year without a Nordic chamber music series didn’t seem like a viable option. They decided to take matters into their own hands and reorganize the series under the umbrella of their nonprofit organization, where Loge currently serves as the president. Besides, most of the groundwork for the series concert season was already in place. The NWEGS could provide the infrastructure of their website and financial umbrella. With the entire board of the NWEGS, it was a go, and Loge and team took off fast and furiously to put the new chamber music in place.
Much to everyone’s delight, the community soon got behind the new musical endeavor. Loge was able to secure venues for the new series very quickly, with the first of the concerts to help at Seattle’s historic Ballard First Lutheran Church, built by Norwegian immigrants. The very first concert on Jan. 8 at 2 p.m., “A Norwegian Epiphany” features Joan Paddock on the trumpet and Norwegian lur, a huge traditional Norwegian horn played in the mountains of Norway, Debra Huddleston on piano and organ, and soprano Loge. The Sons of Norway Leif Erikson Lodge will be on hand with the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association to prepare a reception party to celebrate the concert afterward. Being an active member of all these groups, I couldn’t be more pleased.
Each subsequent concert focuses on the music of another Nordic country and one neighboring Nordic country each year, for this season, Poland. Other community groups will be providing support, and Loge and the NWEGS have already secured a substantial amount of grant money to support the series.
“We are already seeing the series grow,” said Loge. “The goal is with time to take the concerts to other cities throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the country.”
One of the strengths of the old Mostly Nordic Chamber Music Series was that it brought Nordic music to Seattle audiences that might not ever have the opportunity to hear it otherwise and to inspire local and regional musicians to explore Nordic repertoire with the support and guidance of Loge, who has developed an expertise in it. It also provided a way for many artists from the Nordic countries to experience the cultural scene in the United States. The new series will carry on this mission of cultural exchange, perhaps now with a stronger sense of artistic freedom, as it is forging its independent identity. “I’m anxious and excited,” said Loge.
If you are interested in learning more about the new Nordic Chamber Music series, visit the NWEGS website at nordicchambermusic.org. You may also reach out to Loge about hosting a concert in your community by filling out the form at nwegriegsociety.org/contact-us.
This article originally appeared in the January 2023 issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.