St. Olaf College | News

🎞️ St. Olaf Choir and St. Olaf Orchestra tour Norway

As they kicked off their two-week tour of Norway, members of the St. Olaf Choir and St. Olaf Orchestra took the stage at the Oslo Opera House and delivered a performance fit for a king — literally.

His Majesty King Harald V of Norway was among the hundreds of audience members who flocked to the opera house to hear the world-renowned St. Olaf Choir and St. Olaf Orchestra in the first of 10 concerts they will perform across the country.

From June 2 to 14, the combined forces of the St. Olaf Choir and the St. Olaf Orchestra will share the stage during four joint concerts in Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen, and Trondheim, in addition to solo concerts.

This is their first joint visit since 2005, when the ensembles toured the country to celebrate the centennial of Norwegian independence.

Conducted by St. Olaf alumnus Anton Armstrong ’78, the internationally acclaimed St. Olaf Choir will perform brand-new music by living Norwegian composers such as Ola Gjeilo and Kim André Arnesen, stirring arrangements of American spirituals by André Thomas and Moses Hogan, and beloved choral works from masters such as Bach, Mendelssohn, and Grieg.

Armstrong will lead the St. Olaf Choir in four solo concerts: Larvik (Kulturhuset Bølgen), Haugesund (Vår Frelsers Kirke), Ålesund (Ålesund Kirke), and Kristiansund (Kristiansund Kirke).

Under the baton of Steven Amundson, the award-winning St. Olaf Orchestra will perform an expertly curated program, highlighted by Samuel Barber’s Overture to The School for Scandal and Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, as well as John Williams’ scores from the Harry Potter films and Grieg’s own Norwegian Dances.

Amundson will conduct the St. Olaf Orchestra in two concerts of their own: Voss (Voss Kulturhus) and Nordfjordeid (Operahuset Nordfjord).

Anton Armstrong ’78 conducts the St. Olaf Choir and St. Olaf Orchestra at the Oslo Opera House.

All three of St. Olaf College’s premier music ensembles — the St. Olaf Band, St. Olaf Choir, and St. Olaf Orchestra — have regularly toured Norway, beginning with the St. Olaf Band in 1906. The St. Olaf Choir first toured Norway in 1913 and now returns for its eighth visit. The St. Olaf Orchestra has previously visited in 1967, 1971, 1979, and 2005.

Each of the tours has returned to many familiar venues — including churches, concert halls, and cathedrals in Bergen, Oslo, and Trondheim — to delight and dazzle audiences across the country. The connections between the college and Norway aren’t limited to music alone. Bernt Julius Muus, a native of Snåsa, and a group of Norwegian Lutheran immigrants established St. Olaf College in 1874 and the college continues to celebrate its Norwegian heritage 145 years later. The purpose of the college, then as now, was to offer a program of liberal arts studies to students preparing for careers in business, politics, the clergy, and many other professions.

The college has also maintained its strong connection to Norway. St. Olaf is one of the few educational institutions in the world where students can complete a Norwegian major. This includes developing their knowledge of Norwegian language, literature, culture, and history. The Norwegian Department at St. Olaf was founded in 1900 and has offered Norwegian language classes to students for more than a century.

As a part of St. Olaf’s off-campus study programs, students also have the option to study in Norway during the month of January, the summer, a semester, or an entire year. Among the most popular programs is the International Summer School, based in Oslo. St. Olaf also offers internship opportunities for students through the Norway Innovation Scholars Program, and regularly sends graduates to Norway to conduct research through the Fulbright Program.

And, of course, there are the music tours.

“I look forward to experiencing the midnight sun during the orchestra’s visit to Snåsa, where Bernt Julius Muus, founder of St. Olaf College, was born,” Amundson says. “It will be wonderful for our students to make a direct and memorable connection to St. Olaf’s early history.”