Altered States – Nordic Voices Concert

A celebration of nature with Nordic Voices.



Photo: Fredrik Arff

In the very first concert in the PÅ! series at MUNCH, you get to experience music from the 1300s up to 2020 – an homage to nature and our surroundings – with all its diversity. In collaboration with leading musicians and ensembles, we present music from both renowned and new performers in this concert series, which has been developed in collaboration with Therese Birkelund Ulvo and UR-produksjoner, with support from Norsk Komponistforening and Arts Council Norway.

This concert is a celebration of sunrays, flowers, the fish in our rivers, and the insects that buzz around us in summer. But it also pays tribute to urban sounds, such as the noise from car engines and humming of ventilation systems.

Johannes Ciconia (1335/1370–1412): Le ray au soley
Lasse Thoresen (1949–): Solbøn, opus 42
Giovanni Gabrieli (1554/1557–1612): Se cantano gl´augelli 
Peter Ablinger (1959–): Studien nach der Natur             
Luca Marenzio (1553/54–1599): O verdi selv ˙o dolci fonti i rivi
Bjørn Bolstad Skjelbred (1970–): Spring Without Voices  – The Bee Madrigals        
Bjørn Bolstad Skjelbred: Still in Silence 
Clement Jannequin (1485–1558): Les chant des Oiseaux   
Natasha Barrett (1972–): Altered States 1 – Coastal Waters, 
Altered States 2 – A Forest of Their Own

Nordic Voices consists of singers Tone Braaten, Ingrid Hanken, Ebba Rydh, Per Kristian Amundrød, Frank Havrøy, and Rolf Asser. Nordic Voices’ repertoire ranges from the Middle Ages to contemporary music.

Le ray au soley by Johannes Ciconia is a striking work that is unique in style and composition. Text, harmony, and form point to a minimalist style almost 600 years before the minimalist music of Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Sun Prayer by Lasse Thoresen is based on a simple lullaby. The text is a prayer asking for sound and warmth to envelop all things.  

The evening will bring you music from Giovanni Gabrieli, who is regarded as the most important musical figure in the transition between Renaissance and Baroque music. His work Se cantano gl’augelli is about the manifestation of love. Peter Ablinger’s work Studien nach der Natur give us access to nature through simple imitations of sounds in our everyday life: traffic, cigarettes, the hum of fluorescent lights, the ticking of a clock.

Bees are an integral part of pollination. There are many contributing factors to bees dying, but one of the main reasons is the increased use of chemicals in agriculture. The composer Bjørn Bolstad Skjelbred has made this gloomy development into beautiful and mournful music for six voices, written especially for Nordic Voices.

Clement Janequin’s work Le chant des oiseaux uses imitations and birdsong instead of actual words. The lyrical lines as well as the quick rhythmic figures tell the story of birdsong awakening slumbering hearts after a long winter’s sleep. Natasha Barrett’s electroacoustic piece Altered States conveys nature defending itself against human interference and attempts to create a human touch using acoustic and electronic voices.