Sisters for 50 years

Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association celebrates with Grieg Gala Jubilee Extravaganza with Norwegian guest stars

Grieg Gala Jubilee Extravaganza

Photo: Mikolaj Mikolajczyk / courtesy of SBSCA
Soprano Reidun Horvei, recipient of the prestigious Grieg Prize, is this year’s featured guest artist at the 2017 Grieg Gala Jubilee Extravaganza, together with pianist Inger-Kristine Riber.

Special Release
Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association

The Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association is well known for its musical programs, so when it came to putting together a lineup for their Grieg Gala for their silver jubilee year, nothing but star power would do. “We all wanted this year to be special,” shares SBSCA president and music director for the event Lori Ann Reinhall. “After all, 50 years of friendship between Seattle and Bergen is something to celebrate in a big way.”

This is exactly what will happen at the 2017 Grieg Gala Jubilee Extravaganza concert on June 18. With cultural exchange at the forefront of the Sister Cities International mission, the association extended an invitation to artists from the Norwegian sister city and has secured two of Norway’s best. This year’s concert features vocalist Reidun Horvei and pianist Inger-Kristine Riber. Both women hail from the town of Voss and are popular performers in nearby Bergen. The two musicians both also have strong connections in Seattle, where they have often appeared onstage. With so many friends in the Emerald City, their appearance at the gala will be an appropriate celebration of an enduring friendship with Seattle.

Soprano Reidun Horvei was educated in classical voice and music pedagogy at the Bergen Music Conservatory and continued her studies at the University of Bergen. In 1993, she was the recipient of the prestigious Grieg Prize. She performs in concert halls throughout Norway and around the world, beloved for her renditions of songs in the Nynorsk language and her storytelling around them. “The amazing thing with Reidun is that her trained classical voice never loses its natural spontaneity,” Reinhall remarks. “It is absolute magic when she sings Grieg.”

Inger-Kristine Riber, who frequently accompanies Horvei in Norway, will be right there with her at the keyboard. She will also display her mastery as a solo pianist, including her interpretation of the ever-popular Wedding Day at Troldhaugen. Riber was educated in Oslo and Hannover and has appeared frequently in the international arena. Recognized as a gifted composer and arranger, Riber has created a special arrangement of a traditional folk dance from Bergen for the Seattle concert. Joining in will be local talents Rachel Nesvig on the Hardanger fiddle and Allion Salvador on the violin.

The second half of the program will feature a festival string quartet, organized by young Salvador, who returns to the gala for his third consecutive year. “Allion is a superstar,” comments Reinhall, “and together with the Seattle Philharmonic Strings, he helped us build up the Grieg Gala to what it is today.” Rachel Nesvig, also a rising star, joins him on violin, together with Aleida Gehrels on the viola and Zoë Kohen-Ley on cello. The program will culminate with the group’s rendition of Grieg’s String Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 27, considered by many as the apex of his high classical repertory.

Following the concert, a reception of Norwegian delicacies will be served, with Daughters of Norway Valkyrien Lodge #1. “The generosity of everyone involved in this event is truly astounding,” remarks Reinhall. “We have our local musicians, guest artists from Norway, members and friends, the church congregation—everyone involved coming together and so generously giving all they can to make this possible for everyone.” And the result is remarkable: the entire program is offered to the public free of charge with support from the city and donors. This year the concert coincides with Father’s Day, offering a very special gift to those who would like to bring their entire family.

For more information, visit or email the SBSCA at You may also find them at The concert begins at 3:00 p.m. on June 18 at Ballard First Lutheran Church at 2006 NW 65th St. in Seattle.

This article originally appeared in the June 16, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American.

Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.