Nordic Voices sing an uplifting concert

Singers from Norway channel Neil Young to tell us “everything’s gonna be alright”

Nordic Voices

Photo: Fredrik Arff / Nordic Voices
Nordic Voices are (from left to right) Tone Elisabeth Braaten, Frank Havrøy, Ingrid Hanken, Ebba Rydh, Rolf Magne Asser, and Per Kristian Amundrød.

Christine Foster Meloni
Washington, D.C.

The candlelight sanctuary of the Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Washington’s Georgetown was the setting for an extraordinary concert by the Nordic Voices on February 11.

As a welcome diversion from all the bad things going on in today’s world, this concert focused on the positive side of life and created, as stated in the program, “an evening of light, love, humor, and vocal playfulness.”

Nordic Voices is a six-voice a cappella group that was formed in 1996. All of the singers are graduates of the Norwegian Academy of Music and the Norwegian Academy of Opera. Their musical interests run the gamut from plainchant to new works commissioned from major Norwegian composers and from sacred religious text to the profane.

The opening piece, Lasse Thoresen’s Diphonie 1, op. 39, delighted and amazed the audience. It included overtone singing (also known as throat singing) and Norwegian kveding (singing-reciting). Incredibly, the singers at times produced the sounds of percussion instruments.

The program included two lovely pieces from Gavin Bryars’ collection, Second Book of Madrigals, based on the love sonnets written by the Italian Renaissance poet Petrarca to his beloved Laura, “poi che voi et io piu’ volte abbiam provato” and “vidi in terra angelici costume.”

Works by Giovanni Gabrieli, “Scherza Amarilli” and “Se cantano gl’augelli,” and Luca Marenzio, “O Verdi Selve” and “Per duo coralli,” represented the madrigal tradition as well.

The group also sang “Two Lovers” by American singer-songwriter Shara (also known by her artistic name My Brightest Diamond) to the accompaniment of chimes, triangles, and bells.

Two of Frank Havrøy’s lullabies were presented: “So, ro rara” (folk tune from Ørsta) and “Bånsull” (folk tune from Østerdalen).

“A Dismantled Ode to the Moral Value of Art” by Maja Ratkje, one of Norway’s most important contemporary composers, concluded the evening. Neil Young’s quotation, “everything’s gonna be alright,” was the final word.

The enthusiastic audience gave Nordic Voices a well-deserved standing ovation. Their extraordinary voices revealed the incredible versatility of which the human voice is potentially capable.

The members of Nordic Voices are sopranos Tone E. Braaten and Ingrid Hanken, mezzosoprano Ebba Rydh, tenor Per Kristian Amundrød, baritone Frank Havrøy, and bass Rolf Magne Schmidt Asser.

This concert was part of the Dumbarton Concerts Music by Candlelight series. For more information, visit their website at

For more information on Nordic Voices, visit

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 24, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Christine Foster Meloni

Christine Foster Meloni is professor emerita at The George Washington University. She has degrees in Italian literature, linguistics, and international education. She was born in Minneapolis and currently lives in Washington, D.C. She values her Norwegian heritage.