Christmas-Concert: Crossover Christmas in Breivik church last night. From the left: Alexander Rybak, Stephen Ackles and Thomas Stanghelle.
Journalist and photographer: Helge Ottesen
Found and translated by Tessa Lande
English revision by Anni Jowett
Christmas on Home Ground
Stephen Ackles sang in Breivik Church yesterday. Today he will sing in Bamble Church.
He grew up in Breivik and lives in Langesund, and he is clearly on his home ground. I guess many of the people present yesterday would have liked to have heard more gospel from Stephen, now that he finally was in the church.
“Crossover Christmas” is the name of the nearly two hour long Christmas concert, Stephen Ackles participates in. The others are the tenor Thomas Stanghelle, his mother, mezzo-soprano Turid Stanghelle and the violinist Alexander Rybak. All of them took part in the famous performance by Thomas Stanghelle “Some Sunny Night” in Beijing in China this autumn. In the middle of the show they showed a short video clip from the China trip. But showing it behind the backs of the audience and on the wall of the roof of the high Brevik church, didn’t work very well. I do not know if there is something called Chinese crick in the neck, but it felt like that.
Mother Turid had incurred a sore throat, and contented herself to only read from the Bible. Grandma Mathilde Marker, joined in instead. She sang one of her most famous songs: “White Lilac” from 1963. Also Thomas´ girlfriend Ingunn Roland sang a song written for her.
Gospel for 48 hours
Young Alexander Rybak received a lot of applause for his virtuoso solo on the violin, but it rose to even more applause when he played and sang a newly composed – and in love – Christmas song. Touching! Thomas and Stephen sang, among other things, “O Helga Natt” , “Ave Maria”, “Mary’s Boychild” and a medley of songs like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “When you Wish Upon a Star”. Thomas did the aria from Pearl Fishers by Bizet.
– ” You might wonder what I do in this classical company?”, a cheerful Stephen asked. Dressed in a black suit, red shirt and shiny boots.
– ” Thomas and I met in a cabin, and there we sang gospel music together for 48 hours”, Ackles tells. Yesterday he performed three gospel songs alone at the piano: A Mahalia Jackson song from one of the first vinyl records, that came into the home of the Ackles family in Brevik, with the text “Take My Hand, Precious Lord, lead me home”. Stephen also sang “A closer walk with thee ” and it looked as if the audience made themselves comfortable on the chairs, clearly wishing for more.
More than 150 people
Stephen Ackles said that Thursday was his grandmother’s 100th birthday and it was special to him. ” She has received a new address, just outside here” he said. It was not only the torches at the entrance, that lit up the church yesterday. There were also some lights on the graves. More than 150 people where present in Brevik church last night.
Charming! Alexander Rybak with his own Christmas song.
Schedule of the Christmas crossover tour 2005