Njål Sparbo's visit to Indiana
Celebrated Norwegian bass-baritone, Njål Sparbo, was a visiting artist at Goshen College in Indiana and the University of Indianapolis from November 2-11, where he shared his artistry, insights and psychology, Norwegian culture, and the vocal music of Edvard Grieg.
At Goshen, the focal point of his visit was a lecture-concert: "The Songs of Edvard Grieg." The event took place at Rieth Hall in the Goshen College Music Center, where he presented Norwegian poetry, culture, and history--and information about Grieg--with the audience between performing 18 solo songs with pianists Luke and Mary Rose Norell, 2 of the Four Psalms (No.1 and No. 4) with the Goshen College Chamber Choir and conductor Dr. Scott Hochstetler, and one thrilling encore. The concert was extremely well received and attended, with an audience over 200. . The only translations given in the program were for the two Psalms, but every comment after the concert was to the effect of: "I don't know anything about Norwegian, but I understood what he was singing!"
Luke and Mary Rose Norell, who arranged the Goshen visit, first met Mr. Sparbo at the Grieg Festival in Florida in January 2015, and were invited to work with him in Norway at the workshop "Edvard Grieg and the Human Voice," in May. It was through these connections, and through the other members of the Edvard Grieg Society of America (EGSOA), that they invited him to Goshen along a planned trip to Indianapolis and Indianapolis University where Mr. Sparbo performed with Gregory Martin.
Njål Sparbo rehearsed with the Chamber Choir, exploring the freedom through awareness of each other and the music, and giving them insight into the interpretation of the text. The choir, who had performed the Psalms two days before his arrival, showed dramatic improvement after his guidance. According to Mr. Sparbo, they had prepared the Norwegian very well, thanks to the generous help of EGSoA board member Marla Fogderud, who spent many hours preparing transcriptions and recording the spoken text.
Njål Sparbo continued his brilliant guidance of the students by teaching a Lieder masterclass the following day. He attended a rehearsal of the Goshen Community Chorale, an amateur adult choir, where he gave practical and musical feedback that brought out incredible results for the choir both as a whole, and individually. The theme of Njål's visit could be summed up as "Finding freedom in music, poetry, and performance." As Dr. Scott Hochstetler summed it up: "It was a life-changing week."
Njål Sparbo's visit to Indianapolis was arranged by Gregory Martin. He began with an inspiring two-hour masterclass on November 6 to voice students at the University of Indianapolis, a session that received rave reviews from faculty and students alike, in which he addressed both the mechanics of singing and musical interpretation. On Sunday, November 8, he and pianist (and EGSOA board member) Gregory Martin gave a recital of songs by Edvard Grieg; the program was ninety minutes without intermission, and was a sort of survey of Grieg's song repertoire, including music from every stage of the composer's life, and in almost every language which Grieg set (bokmål, Nynorsk, Danish, German, and English - all that was missing was the Old Norse of "Den Bergtekne"). The performance began with a brief talk by Mr. Sparbo about Grieg, and the significance of the songs in his output; each song was then preceded by a brief summary, often times with poetic background to the text and its historical context. The concert was attended by, among others, members of the Sons of Norway (Indianapolis chapter) and students with whom Mr. Sparbo had worked at the university. Many of these same audience members returned two days later to see him give the American premiere of English composer Robert Saxton's new song-cycle Time and the Seasons (also with Martin at the piano) as part of the Ronen Chamber Ensemble's 2015-16 season. It was an intense and extraordinary five days in Indianapolis, and an experience which all involved are eager to repeat.
Goshen College (Goshen, Indiana)
November 4, 7:30 p.m.Lecture-demonstration *Grieg Songs and Choral Works with Norwegian baritone, Njål Sparbo; assisted by Mary Rose Norell and Luke Norell, piano, and Dr. Scott Hochstetler and the Goshen College Chamber Choir
November 5, 1:00 p.m. Njål Sparbo Master Class with voice students of Goshen College
November 8: Zion Evangelical Church of Christ (Indianapolis, Indiana)
presented a lecture-demonstration of Grieg Songs with Norwegian baritione, Njål Sparbo; assisted by Gregory Martin, piano
October 14: The South Bend Area Music Teachers Association (Indiana) presented a Grieg presentation and performance by Luke and Mary Rose Norell, piano. The program included piano works from Op. 17, Op. 66, and Op. 72, the Ballade, Op. 24, and the A Major Norwegian Dance for piano duet.
October 27: 20th Anniversary Celebration of the German Society of Edvard Grieg. This celebration took place in Leipzig. For more information:
October 9: Mindekirken, The Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church. The Leif Eriksson International Festival and Edvard Grieg Society of Minneapolis presented a piano concert including works of Grieg and other Norwegian composers with Norwegian pianist, Rune Alver
September 18-20: 10th Anniversary of the Edvard Grieg Society of Minneapolis (now the Edvard Grieg Society of Minnesota) Programs included lectures and performances at Norway House, Augsburg College, and Mindekirken, The Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Minneapolis. There were performances of songs and piano works of Grieg and other Norwegian composers with Rolf Erdahl, Carrie Vecchione, Dan Dressen, Sonja Thompson, Sylvia Eckes, Bill Halverson, and students of Norwegian-founded colleges
International Grieg Society Workshop and Conference
Bergen, Norway, May 28-31, 2015
"Edvard Grieg and the Human Voice" INTERNATIONAL WORKSHOP and CONFERENCE
on the SONGS of EDVARD GRIEG
The conference and workshop were arranged by The Grieg Academy - University of Bergen,The International Edvard Grieg Society, Edvard Grieg Research Centre - University of Bergen, Bergen Public Library and
the Edvard Grieg Museum.
THE CONFERENCE included international researchers, performers and others presenting papers, lecture-demonstrations and performances related to the main theme “Edvard Grieg and the Human Voice”. The conference language is English.
THE WORKSHOP involved singers and pianists (students, teachers and professionals) interested in learning more about Edvard Grieg’s songs.The singers/pianists took part in performing Grieg’s songs of their choice sung in the original languages - Norwegian (Bokmål/Nynorsk) and German – and were coached by internationally acclaimed vocal/piano teachers from Norway.The workshop consisted of informal, open teaching sessions and performance opportunities, including selected performances in Grieg’s villa, on its 1885 Steinway grand. Conference and Workshop attendees were also invited to the Grieg Archives at the Bergen Public Library for a presentation by Siren Steen, head of the Archives, and a viewing of Grieg's original manuscripts.
Sparbo master class at Goshen College
Performance with Njål Sparbo and Mary Rose Norell
Njål Sparbo with Mary Rose Norell, Luke Norell, Scott Hochstetter
Founding members of the Edvard Grieg Society of Minnesota, Turid Ormseth (left) and Ruth Donhowe (right) with Sylvia Eckes
Norway House, Minneapolis
Daniel Baer, lst prize winner of the Grieg
Festival in Florida performs a concert during
the Bergen International Music Festival, May 2015.