Artistic creativity, versatility, technical precision – these are the primary ingredients of the perfect recipe for a performing arts ensemble. One other ingredient, that indescribable something that we tend to call audience appeal, makes the picture complete. These are precisely the elements that make up Nordic Voices, a six-voice a cappella group that has been making waves not only in Norway, but in places as far afield as South Africa, Taiwan and New York.
Formed in 1996, Nordic Voices comprises six graduates from the Norwegian Academy of Music and the Norwegian Academy of Opera, who, in addition to their singing backgrounds, have a broad range of experience from choral conducting to teacher training and composition. It is perhaps this range of interests that leads them to explore a wider than usual spectrum of musical expression, from plainchant to new works commissioned from leading Norwegian composers; from the most sacred of religious texts to the definitely profane.
Nordic Voices enjoy mixing their programmes to the point of what many would consider extremes. Lassus rubs shoulders with Ligeti and Norwegian contemporary composer Henrik Hellstenius, and Dufay with Huber and Nystedt. Their programme concepts revolve around themes, for example historical figures or textual links, bringing the music to life in sometimes unexpected ways. In a recent programme, Nordic Voices made their first foray into the world of electronics, with works exploiting not only electronic amplification, but sampling, mixing and video-art.
In short, Nordic Voices concerts are an unusual blend of sophisticated music-making and stylish performance, more often than not with more than a dash of humour, and thanks to the group’s ability to engage and fascinate, it is increasingly in demand on the international scene. In addition to regular concerts in Oslo and around Norway, recent concert tours have included visits to Taiwan, Stockholm, cities in Germany and regular tours of the USA. In August 2005 Nordic Voices represented Norway at the 7th World Symposium on Choral Music in Kyoto, Japan. In 2006 they returned to the USA and visited festivals in France, Greece and numerous festivals in Norway, as well as representing Norway at Euromusicale in Munich. In October 2006 Nordic Voices made their mark strongly at the Final Concert of the Ultima Contemporary Music Festival in Oslo, premiering new works by 6 composers. This concert was the first conclusion of the project Concrescence, a project initiated by the Academy of Music in Oslo (with prof. Lasse Thoresen), the Ultima Festival in Oslo and Nordic Voices. One of Nordic Voices’ main goals is to be in front of researching in vocal art. This means to explore, as they did in the Concrescence project, new vocal techniques and new way of using the classical trained voice. In the end this means that Nordic Voices can produce a wide range of techniques, from ordinary classical sounds to Mongolian overtone singing.