Morten Harket of the famed Norwegian rock band “a-ha” was among those performing at the National Memorial Ceremony at the Oslo Spektrum arena on Sunday, joining a long list of other musicians, actors and literary figures who wanted to show their support for victims of the July 22 terrorist attacks.
Harket and fellow a-ha members Magne Furuholmen and Pål Waaktaar-Savoy were supposed to have played their last concert together last December, when they wrapped up a lengthy farewell tour and ended their 25-year career. But the magnitude of the attacks, and the national shock that followed them, led Harket, Furuholmen and Waaktaar-Savoy to decide that it was natural and correct to get together one more time. External link: A-ha’s performance
Dressed in dark suits and white shirts, they gave an emotional performance of the title song from their third album in 1988, “Stay on these roads,” an appropriate piece amidst other songs by other artists like “Stay with me” by Jarle Bernhoft of Bergen and a stirring version of REM’s “Everybody hurts” performed by Ane Brun and Sivert Høyem.
The themes running through all the musical interludes at the non-denominational memorial involved pain, sorrow, support and comfort. “It’s been 30 days since everything changed,” said the hostess for the memorial produced and broadcast by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), Haddy N’jie, adding that the purpose of the ceremony was “to remember, be together and take farewell” with the 77 persons killed in the attacks on Norway’s government complex and a Labour Party summer camp.
Susanne Sundfør launched the musical portions of the program with her version of the Ole Paus song “Mitt lille land” (My little country), and after King Harald spoke, renowned Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes played Mozart’s piano concerto #23 accompanied by the Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra. The orchestra also performed Beethoven’s Symphony #7 and accompanied several Norwegian artists including Karpe Diem, Bjørn Eidsvåg and Sissel Kyrkjebø, who ended the memorial after Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg spoke with a powerful rendition of the haunting ballad “Til ungdommen” (To the youth), by Nordahl Grieg and Otto Mortensen, which has become an anthem of sorts for the Labour Party’s youth group AUF. External link: Sissel Kyrkjebø’s performance
The ceremony also included video interviews with survivors, including one from her hospital bed, and one from an AUF member who said she now has learned to appreciate “just sitting on a bus and being aware that it’s moving.” Actor Aksel Henie, who lost his own brother in a parachuting accident last week, read a new text on sorrow by author Lars Saabye Christensen which mentioned how Norwegians dropped “everything in their hands, to raise a rose” after the attacks.
Another tribute came from Eva Hildrum, an official in the transport ministry who was at work when the bomb went off in the government complex. She spoke on behalf of all ministerial workers on the fear and sorrow they felt after the attack, but how important it was to “keep working for the government that Norwegians had elected.”
The entire National Memorial Ceremony can be viewed here (external link)
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