Diversity, tradition and innovation
TEXT:INGRID OPSTAD| PHOTOS © BERGEN KIRKEAUTUNNALE
Every autumn, diversity, tradition and innovation meet at Bergen Kirkeautunnale, a festival showcasing the best of church art and music from Norway and beyond. This year’s programme is full of captivating church music performed in beautiful surroundings, creating unforgettable experiences.
“Bergen Kirkeautunnale is a showcase for the great and diverse art and cultural activity from our churches – a stage where tradition and creative renewal go hand in hand,” says festival manager Kjetil Almenning. He explains that the art and music are based on both new innovations and old traditions to stay relevant, yet in keeping with the important heritage of the church. “We want to create cultural events that everyone can enjoy, not just the regular church-goers, but also those who are not used to visiting the church. The church is an open and inclusive venue with things happening all year round, something we want to remind the audience of with the festival,” he says.
Captivating church music and unforgettable experiences
Established in 2012, Bergen Kirkeautunnale has become a yearly tradition and an exciting scene for art and music of high quality. Every autumn, the festival combines its own events with collaborative productions, this year with a focus on choral hymns as the programme title KORAL indicates.
“We have a varied festival programme that has just been released, which will provide plenty of captivating church music and unforgettable experiences. Everything from Bergen’s professional vocal ensemble, Edvard Grieg Kor, and the pop musician Julian Misic, to an organ marathon,” says Almenning. In addition, there will be an exhibition focusing on books containing old Norwegian hymns, as well as art installations, including an interactive box situated outdoors, where the public can experience choral hymns in a new way.
Bergen Kirkeautunnale is celebrating the 175th anniversary of the French composer and virtuos organist Charles- Marie Widor this year, with a marathon of concerts in Bergen Cathedral. The free concerts will include all of Widor’s ten organ symphonies, performed by prominent Norwegian organists. “The concerts begin every hour – first out is Symphony No.1 at one o’clock. It all finishes at 11pm in the evening, but guests can come and go as they please during the show. This is the first time we will host an organ marathon of this calibre, and we believe it will be a unique and interesting event that the audience will enjoy!”
‘God is a maestro – his music divine’
One of the highlights of the 2019 programme is the closing concert, performed by Julian Misic with band and choir. “Misic is a rather extraordinary character in a church context. He is a curious man with an interesting story that represents something completely different to what one might expect at a church music festival,” Almenning explains.
“Misic’s music is playful and inspired by his Balkan roots, and the lyrics are both beautiful and provoking.” The concert will mark the release of Misic’s new album, Angels Diary, with, among others, the remarkable Norwegian folk singer Berit Opheim, the Bergen Cathedral girls’ choir, and Årstad church choir joining him on stage in Bergen Cathedral.