‘Is there an organist in the house?’

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Norway’s popular and famed violinist Arve Tellefsen was all ready, along with the Nidaros Cathedral’s boys’ choir and their audience, to launch into another traditional Christmas concert at Oslo’s cathedral this week. Suddenly their organist became acutely ill.

“We’ve often heard about people asking whether there’s a doctor in the house,” Tellefsen told newspaper Aftenposten, on Friday. That wasn’t absolutely necessary, but the show could not go on without an organist.

“So we asked whether there was an organist in the audience,” Tellefsen said. And there was: As local newspaper Asker og Bærums Budstikke wrote, an organist for Holmen Church in Asker was sitting in the front row at Wednesday night’s concert. Marilyn Brattskar, who’s from the US but has lived in Norway for 20 years, jumped right up to offer her services.

“It was a fantastic thing to do,” Tellefsen said, noting that it saved the concert for all 800 sitting in the cathedral’s audience. He was impressed how Brattskar, who had realized something was wrong, managed to sit down at a piano that had been brought in and get through the program, with just a bit of preparation and then reading the music set up in advance.

Brattskar herself thought it was great fun, and Tellefsen was so impressed that he asked her to accompany for four more concerts. She accepted and was due to actually play the organ at Saturday night’s concert at Ullern Church in Oslo. The original organist, meanwhile, was recovering.

newsinenglish.no staff

  • John Palmer

    Sorry for the original organist. But this is so cool! Some day I hope to attend a concert at Nidarosdomen.

  • richard albert

    I can see why they pulled in a piano. Just learning that huge Steinmeyer would take some time; even the cathedral’s brilliantly restored Wagnerorglet (Wagner baroque organ) is difficult. Although the selections may have been familiar, it is a truly marvellous talent to be able to sight-read ones way through an entire concert, accompanying (I assume) an artist of Tellefsen’s calibre as well. As a young person I fancied I would become an organist. After a couple of lessons it was suggested that I try my hand at badminton instead.
    An adequate video of the Steinmeyer (average or above audio) is at:
    For the Wagner instrument: