Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt sees two of his works performed by renowned contemporary choral ensemble Commotio in Oxford this weekend.
Commotio, Oxford's leading performers of contemporary choral music, are set to perform Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt's 'O Crux' and 'Stabat Mater' on Saturday March 11 2006 in the university city's Merton College Chapel.
Commotio is one of Oxford's leading choral groups, formed in August 1999 to provide a refreshing alternative to the more readily available repertoire offered by most other chamber choirs, performing primarily lesser known material of the 20th and 21st centuries. Matthew Berry, the founder and conductor of the choir, enthusiastically promotes the work of a younger generation of composers, as well as bringing to the fore little known works of more established writers. In short, Commotio offers singers and audiences alike something a little different.
Knut Nystedt (1915), born in Oslo, studied composition with Bjarne Brustad and Aaron Copland, organ with Arild Sandvold and Ernest White, and conducting with Øivin Fjeldstad. He was organist at Torshov Church in Oslo 1946-1982 and professor of choral conducting at the University of Oslo 1964-1985. He was conductor of, The Norwegian Soloists` Choir from 1950-90, and has toured with them not only the Scandinavian countries, but also Germany, France and three times the United States (twice under the management of Colombia Artists in New York). A visit to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand in 1978 was followed by concerts in China (1982) and Israel (1984 and 1988).
As a composer, Knut Nystedt has held a central position throughout a long period of rapidly shifting musical currents. With unfailing artistry he has shown a remarkable ability to adapt essential new discoveries to his own, highly personal, style, which is rich in colors and, at the same time, delicately nuanced.
While most of his works, both orchestral and choral, have been premiered in Norway by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra or by his own choir, he is one of the few Norwegian composers of today whose works are performed world-wide. They have also earned him both national and international honors. In 1966 the King of Norway made him knight of the Order of St. Olav in recognition of his contribution of Norwegian music. In 1975 the Augsburg College in Minneapolis awarded him their Distinguished Service Citation for his innovative influence on choral composition in the United States. In 1980 the Norwegian Arts Counsil gave him their Music Prize. And in 1984, his choral work De Profundis was elected "Best work of the year" - all categories - by the Society of Norwegian Composeres. Professor Honorario, Mendoza University Argentina 1991.
Knut Nystedt is still active on the Norwegian and international music scene. He receives a large number of commissions and participates in choral workshops throughout the world. His 85th birthday was celebrated with concerts and various arrangements in Germany, USA and the Nordic countries. Of later major works could be mentioned: Apocalypsis Joannis : Symphony for Soli, Chorus and Orchestra,op. 155 (1998), commissioned by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, The Word Became Flesh, Op. 162 (2001) for 13 part choir, a commission for the Augsburg College Choir, and Reach Out For Peace for soprano, choir and orchestra, Op. 164 A (2001) a commission from the Norwegian choir Ceciliaforeningen.