In part two of my telephone interview with St. Olaf Choir director Anton Armstrong, we continued to discuss the program the choir will sing at Severance Hall on February 1.
Daniel Hathaway: The next section begins with Finzi, who is one of my favorite composers — but tell me about Ola Gjeilo.
Anton Armstrong: Ola Gjeilo is a Norwegian composer who has come to this country to do more advanced work on the east coast. He started coming to the forefront three or four years ago when Gunilla Luboff, Norman Luboff’s widow, who owned Walton Music (she’s Swedish) started publishing some of Ola’s music. My colleague Sigrid Johnson commissioned him to write a piece for our first year singers — the Manitou Singers — for Christmas two years ago. Then I stumbled across many of his compositions. He came to St. Olaf for a visit, and he has been featured in the Twin Cities. We’re always trying to find young contemporary voices, and also, as you mentioned early on, we still have very strong ties to Norway. And so it’s not just music of Grieg and Nysted and other who have been revered and highly lauded over the years, but it’s also new voices of Scandinavia and especially Norway that I’m always trying to include in some way, shape or form in our programs. And this whole section is more of the social consciousness section. [Read more…]