Creating unique Nordic sounds

2013-04-23 00:00

HAILED by critics as one of the best in the world, Nordic Voices — a six-voice a cappella ensemble from Oslo, Norway — is not your run-of-the-mill vocal group. Performing this Thursday at Hilton College, the group has a repertoire ranging from medieval to contemporary works.

The six singers (three men and three women) are unrivalled in their genre, and are seasoned in the fine art of sophisticated music-making and stylish performance.

Nordic Voices say the aim of the group was just that: “To perform vocal music on a high, international level.”

The idea was to create a group where all the members had an influence on the musical result — music that the world had never heard before.

In a capella singing, the purists talk about “timbre” — the tone colour or quality from psychoacoustics. And it is the endless possibilities of the human voice and the quality of timbre that Nordic Voices is interested in.

The members of Nordic Voices are graduates of either the Norwegian Academy of Music or the Opera Academy in Oslo. Together they share a broad background in opera, composition, church music and conducting.

Nordic Voices has released four CDs, the latest of which is Lamentations, a recording on the English label Chandos. Their two recordings Reges Terrae (Chandos, 2007) and Djånki-Don (Aurora, 2008) both received a nomination for the Norwegian recording industry’s Spellemann prize.

In 2008, Nordic Voices received the Fartein Valen prize for the contribution to Norwegian contemporary music.

The members of Nordic Voices place an emphasis on understanding themselves in the group to work out how their combined talent can create something special.

In doing so, the Nordic Voices has created its own sound. For the sake of longevity, which it has enjoyed over 13 years, the group focuses on accommodating and ensuring a feeling among its members that they are all a part of the music-making process.

“All the singers of Nordic Voices like working together, and that helps,” the group says.

There are various challenges as well, including keeping the voice — essentially a muscle — fit for performance. But the challenges, they say, are outweighed by “the joy of singing music”.

Nordic Voices will perform on April 25 at a Gala Concert in the Hilton College Theatre, and will be joined by a number of top South African a capella ensembles. Tickets cost R100. Doors open at 6.30 pm, and the concert starts at 7 pm. Bookings are essential at 033 383 0126 or


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