Perhaps the most prestigious culture festival on Norwegian soil, The Bergen International Festival, opens next week. The program is strewn with names from the firmament of international arts and the festival also features a very distinguishing annual musician(s)-in-residence post. This year the honour has been bestowed upon the Oslo-based Norwegian/Swedish Trio Mediæval.
Since coming together as a trio in 1997 the three sopranos Anna Maria Friman, Linn Andrea Fuglseth and Torunn Østrem Ossum have enjoyed international success of the utmost kind. In Europe, and not least in America their music -of such depth and beauty that words always seem inadequate- has been embraced by critics and audiences alike. Also in the form of record sales: Their first CD, Words of the Angel (2001) immediately entered The Billboard Top 10 Bestseller list of classical music
The festival program describes the musicians in residence as a trio of a quite unique format with the ability to merge true individuality with harmonic precision in exquisite manner. They span a musical spectrum that reaches 800 years back in time and manage to subtly bridge the distance between medieval music and contemporary expressions by means of Norwegian diachronic folk traditions. More specifically Trio Mediaeval has developed three distinct strands of repertoire: polyphonic mediaeval music from England and France, contemporary vocal works and Norwegian mediaeval ballads and songs.
It is no doubt this timelessness and the ability to invoke a-temporal emotions in such a sublime way that has made Trio Mediæval a name of such international format and renown. They have given concerts and radio broadcasts throughout Europe, in the USA and Canada, and have become internationally cherished conveyers of music’s innermost sanctity: “The divine voices of Trio Mediaeval entranced a rapt congregation,” said the New York Times of a recent concert in Manhattan.
Bergen is a special city in many ways, not least due to its plethora of intact medieval buildings, including four churches. So it is beyond dispute that the city offers atmosphere and the appropriate surroundings for the enchantment that Trio Mediæval will be conjuring. The festival starts on May 23rd; a moment of much pomp and royal circumstance, and lasts a full two weeks until June fifth. It is the biggest festival of its kind in the Nordic region, a festival presenting the full panoply of artistic expressions, with names of such calibre as playwright Jon Fosse, pianist Leiv Ove Andsnes and many others form the different artistic fields. But special attention naturally befalls the musicians in residence. Trio Mediæval will perform in different contexts and in constellations with other artists, among them Tord Gustavson Trio, The Hillard Ensemble and Signe Klejs.