Internationally acclaimed acapella ensemble Sjaella unveil the inspiration behind their enchanting vocal performance, Nordic Night.
Drawing inspiration from the natural wonders and breathtaking landscapes of the Nordic region, German vocal sextet Sjaella is presenting a stunning journey through the ethereal sounds of night-time in the Elisabeth Murdoch Hall on 21 July.
The group will traverse contemporary and Baroque compositions woven together with a rich tapestry of enchanting folk songs from northern Europe, in a compelling blend of majestic natural wonders and mythological tales.
A testament to Sjaella’s reputation as one of the most captivating vocal ensembles of our time, Nordic Night promises to be an unforgettable musical experience and a love letter to the atmospheric world of night.
We spoke with mezzo-soprano Marie Charlotte Seidel about some of the music that shaped the curation of this special performance.
This video inspired us to commission the composition Crystallized. The piece is not based on a text as such but is constructed around two images: the phenomenon of the transformation of water into ice and the contemplation of a nucleus, for it contains all the nutrients necessary to create new life in its infinitesimally small form. The people who live in the northernmost parts of the world are particularly influenced by the change of these aggregate states – whole lakes can become walkable paths in winter.
Björk is an artistic personality who always encourages us to break genre boundaries and experiment with sound elements we can create with our voices. She shows that seemingly incompatible things can be united. Especially fascinating for us singers is her unique way of using language. In Elisabeth Murdoch Hall we will perform a version of the Icelandic song Vísur Vatnsenda-Rósu, which explores the possibilities of harmonizing a melody.
This traditional Irish melody, arranged by the Finnish vocal group Rajaton, repeatedly becomes an earworm for the members of Sjaella. It evokes a captivating feeling of infinite freedom in me and reminds me of many trips we were able to experience together. We improvised to this melody together at many of these places.
This well-known aria from the English Baroque era drew our attention to the work of Henry Purcell many years ago. The steady setting of the Purcell’s melodies, in the case of Music for a while accompanied by a basso ostinato, provide the arranger with ample room to experiment with additional accompanying voices, some of which originally played by strings. In our program Nordic Night, you can listen to arrangements of four pieces from Henry Purcell's semi-opera The Fairy Queen, which is based on William Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The music of Norwegian composer Knut Nysted has accompanied us since the beginning of our ensemble. We discovered him when he was one of the few composers in the 2000s who had published pieces for six high voices. At that time, we were dependent on music publishers to find new pieces for our ensemble. The unique harmony of his pieces has fascinated us. Through audio recordings of some of Nystedt's compositions, we discovered many Scandinavian choirs whose timbres provided us with important foundations.