Not only have thousands of winter sports fans, literary crime buffs, talent scouts and new pop and electronica artists been in Oslo over the past week: An estimated 20,000 aficionados of church music are also in town, for the Oslo International Church Music Festival.
It’s been busy in the Norwegian capital lately, with the X Games, the Biathlon World Championships, the By:Larm music festival and a crime literature festival all in the past week-and-a-half. In addition comes the church music festival that runs through Sunday, with 879 artists from 18 nations taking part in concerts and other events at 10 arenas and several churches around town.
It’s the 16th time the festival has been arranged in Oslo, and newspaper Aftenposten reported that it’s more popular than ever, with leading ensembles from around the world keen to participate. “I’m approached daily by ensembles who want to take part, so we can choose from the best,” Bente Johnsrud, festival director and artistic leader, told Aftenposten.
Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and Collegium Vocale Gent were on the opening program last week, and the festival also includes various lectures, classes, seminars and festive church services. The opening concert featured cantater by Händel at the Oslo Cathedral, and there also was a traditional bus tour around Oslo to see various organs.
Johnsrud called the festival “a unique opportunity for the public to experience classical music at a very high level.” Norwegian trumpet star Ole Edvard Antonsen was performing Friday night with Wayne Marshall on organ and piano in the cathedral, which also was the venue for several other concerts including the closing concert this Sunday. For the full program, click here.