In a groundbreaking endeavor, a professional choir comprised of Nordic singers has been established for the first time. The Young Nordic Opera Choir, an artistic project, seeks to reinforce Nordic unity, thanks to a generous grant of DKK 4 million from the A.P. Møller Foundation.
These times are marked by significant upheaval, and there is an urgent need for unity, more so than any period since the Second World War.
Cultural and media spheres are increasingly focusing on fostering collaboration and interconnectedness among the Nordic countries.
Throughout Nordic history, communal and organized choir singing have played vital roles in the region's culture. Drawing on this significant tradition, The Jutland School of Singing has taken the initiative to form the Young Nordic Opera Choir, founded on a simple principle: When we sing together, we belong together!
In 2023, the Young Nordic Opera Choir will perform at the Reykjavik Opera Days and make its debut on August 27th at the Herning Opera Festival. In the subsequent years, the choir will be showcased at other Nordic festivals.
Mads Bille, the Artistic Director of Herning Opera Festival, emphasizes that the choir's quality is guaranteed by its members, all of whom are either young professional singers or advanced students from various Nordic countries. The combination of students and recent graduates fosters a strong synergy, allowing singers to exchange experiences and grow collectively.
The Young Nordic Opera Choir serves as an essential platform for the development of young professional singers across the Nordic region. Annually, 30 choir members are selected through an open call. Singers can participate in the choir for multiple years, but every year, they compete on equal footing with newcomers for a spot.
"We are in our first year, and we have already received great interest from singing communities and academies throughout the Nordic countries. This means that right from the beginning, we can present a genuinely high-quality opera choir, and we are extremely excited to introduce it to the audience," says Mads Bille.
The choir comprises 30 singers, with an average age of 27 years, ranging from 18 to 35 years old. Each of the Nordic countries - Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and the Faroe Islands - has contributed at least one singer to the ensemble.
Conducting the choir in 2023 is 31-year-old Dane, Magnus Larsson, a talented and versatile musician with experience performing in both opera and symphonic music across the Nordic region.
The grand idea behind the Young Nordic Opera Choir is to use art as a 'common third' that establishes a framework for a new Nordic dialogue. The repertoire draws from the robust Nordic choir tradition and the European opera tradition.
The choir's ultimate ambition is to perform new music specially composed for them. In the first season, they will present highlights from the great European tradition. The following year, the focus will shift to works from the Nordic tradition, and in the third season, new music will take center stage.
"With Magnus Larsson, we have a curious and resourceful musician at the beginning stages of his career. We are excited about his appetite for all kinds of repertoires and eager to witness the collaboration between our new choir and Magnus unfold," says Mads Bille.
The Young Nordic Opera Choir will perform at various festivals across the Nordic countries, making opera more accessible to the general public. The hope is that their performances will inspire audiences to sing more themselves.
The debut concert of the Young Nordic Opera Choir will take place on August 27th at the Herning Opera Festival, where they will perform a gala concert on the festival's main stage. This will be followed by another concert at Opera Days in Reykjavik on October 29th.
The choir will be based in Herning, which, thanks to The Jutland School of Singing, has become Denmark's capital of singing and a significant hub for singing throughout the Nordic countries. The generous DKK 4 million grant from the A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation will support the choir through 2025.
Choir members will rehearse individually in their respective Nordic countries and convene physically in Herning and Reykjavik in the period leading up to the concerts. The Young Nordic Opera Choir aspires to forge stronger bonds of unity across the Nordic region, celebrating the rich tradition of choral singing and fostering new artistic collaborations for the future.