Taking place at the grand, sprawling Esplanade Hall, the Nidaros Cathedral Men and Boys’ Choir put on a rousing show for the nearly sold out show last Saturday.
The concert began with famed organist Magne Draagen as he emerged from the wings and sat at the Esplanade’s huge pipe organ (yes, we’re as surprised as you are that the Esplanade has one). We couldn’t help but stare at the pipe organ and continue to appreciate its beauty and admire just how gorgeous it looked from our vantage point. For anyone seated in the audience that night, one felt nothing but class emanating from all around, undoubtedly a top venue for hosting concerts of the very best quality.
The choir was then introduced to us. At first, the only members visible were the boys, appearing onstage and singing the higher register of opening song ‘Ehre Sei Gott’ before we heard resonant voices around us filling the hall, and realized that we were surrounded by the men lined up along the concert hall’s aisle! A dramatic way to open the night and definitely starting off on the right note. Once the entire choir had gathered onstage, there was no doubt that this was the perfect mix of singers, getting even the youngest members to reach high notes while the older tenors, bassists and baritones brought depth to the opening number, which really helped capture the essence of the pieces. One of the soloists, though young, was completely confident and at ease with his voice, assuredly performing with grace while making full use of the fantastic acoustics the concert hall offered. Throughout the first half, we were impressed with the almost surreal choices of songs, all of which were amazingly appropriate, rousing and spiritual in delivery (such as John Rutter’s ‘Requiem: Pie Jesu’ and Ludvig Nielsen’s ‘Te Per Orbem’).
In the second half, we welcomed local chamber orchestra Re: SOUND onstage to accompany the choir for their rendition of Giacomo Puccini’s Mass in six movements – ‘Messsa Di Gloria’, a rare treat as the arrival of the Nidaros choir marked the first time it was performed in Singapore in full. Led by lead violinist Low Jun Hong, the audience applauded excitedly as the choir returned, and the lengthy piece began. The orchestra supported the choir well, with musicians on trumpet helping to bring out the majestic tone of the work, while flutes provided almost angelic voices, and the plucking of violins helped elevate the opera to new heights.
Tenor and soloist Thomas Rudd was a standout and highlight of the performance. With several roles to play during the Mass, he gave it his all and the extra ‘oomph’ the performance required, bringing it to a much higher level. When the concert finally ended, the entire hall rose to give a standing ovation. Conductor and artistic director Bjorn Moe (himself an ex-Nidaros boy) deserves plenty of praise, and even gave the audience a little surprise at the end – getting the entire choir to perform a stunning rendition of National Day song ‘Home’, complete with pipe organ. It was spine tingling to say the least, and incredible to hear it live performed in the Esplanade, with all the atmosphere of a nice facade, and almost as if it were a celebration of its 15th anniversary this month.
To end off the night, the choir performed the perfect ending – the Hallelujah hymn, continually pushing the boundaries of human vocal capability, and moving into higher and higher octaves each time, an incredible performance which well observed each and every crescendo and decrescendo and brought out the full majestic nature of the piece and encapsulated the choir’s range and flexibility. Undoubtedly a spiritual night out, one could almost say the Esplanade Concert Hall had turned into a little slice of heaven, or more specifically, Trondheim (where the choir hails from) for a wonderful evening of sheer talent from these Norwegian men and boys, an outstanding performance that left us slack jawed with amazement and rising to our feet once more to applaud these incredible singers.
Photo Credit: Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
Performance attended 21/10/17
To find out more about upcoming concerts and acts brought in by Licha Stelaus, visit their website here.