Alexander Rybak and “Stille Natt Hellige Natt” in Grorud church 10.12.18

Filled Grorud church twice in one evening

The “Stille Natt Hellige Natt” concert is as good as expected. In one evening, Grorud church was filled to the brim twice, and the audience came even from Nottingham as well as Moscow!

Source: Akers Avis, published 21.12.18. Text and photos: ROLF E. WULFF
Translated by TessaLa, revision by Anni Jowett and Anastasia Silakova.

For 30 years, the “Mother of all Christmas concerts” has travelled around to churches with professional artists to sing the Christmas message and unify the religious festival and joy. Rune Larsen has been a part of this for 17 years in a row, and once again he realised that he and the rest of the singers and musicians had come to the favourite church of all – Grorud Church.

INTERPLAYED GANG: Alexander Rybak, Tor Endresen, Maria Haukaas Mittet, Lisa Børud and Rune Larsen ensured that “Stille Natt Hellige Natt” still is the undisputed “mother of all Christmas concerts”. A great performance and a super enthusiastic audience in Grorud church.

Fantastic frame

– Although everyone knows, I have to say it again. It would be  wrong not to mention it, smiles the gentleman from Bergen.

– It’s great in every church we visit, but exactly here at Grorud it’s very special. Whether it’s the acoustics, the wonderful wall painting that creates a fantastic frame of it all, the shape of the church, the audience. It can not be described. There is just something about this place I can not explain. It’s just really to enjoy that nothing is like Grorud, states Rune.

– By the way, when Alexander (Rybak) had forgotten to tune the violin and had to do it in the middle of a song, he received a great applause. It would never have happened elsewhere, Rune chuckles.

Great applause

And as usual, the audience was with them from the first note. And twice in one evening Grorud church was packed. Last year there was only one concert. This year there was once again a double concert on the same evening. Tor Arne Ranghus of Taran AS, who has produced the concert since the first time in 1987, told that the second concert two years ago was not completely sold out and that they therefore reduced it to one last year.

– We were wrong. There should have been two last year too. With two full houses this year, I guaranteed there won’t be any changes next year, he states.

 Tor Endresen is back in the gang after a couple of years off, the audience appreciated that,

– It’s good to be back. I had the opportunity to participate in something else that gave me more time with my family. But now I’m here and it feels good, Tor strikes. And that he has been missed, one got the full evidence of when the two biggest applauses of the night came after he performed “O store Gud” and “Helga Natt”. It was just so powerful and overwhelming!

Lisa Børud and Maria Haukaas Mittet

When Maria Haukaas Mittet is at her best and this year’s newcomer Lisa Børud (who became Christian-Norway’s grandchild star at five years old and who got her breakthrough in Stjernekamp on NRK) with one great  performance after another, then it can’t be better.

Without hands

And then, Rune Larsen, who always has a story to tell that awakes reflection and in a natural way reminds us that it is soon Christmas and that we are in a church room. He was talking about a statue of a priest in a small Italian town that was destroyed in a bombing during World War II. The statue was rescued, except the hands. It was decided that the statue should continue to stand there without hands. But on the shelf it says: “You are my hands.”

– Just like God’s hands that reach towards us from a little child in a crib in Bethlehem. And Christmas is exactly the outstretched hands religious festival. With this as a backdrop, this becomes a Christmas song for me, Rune pointed out, and introduced the song “Gje meg handa di, ven” (Give me your hand, my friend), performed by Tor Endresen.

Alexander Rybak

Alexander Rybak takes part in “Stille Natt Hellige Natt” for the 6th time. And it is easy to understand why.  An entertainer with literally many strings to play on. He manages his violin in an indescribable way, combining classical music at the highest level with merrymaking. Even Alf Prøysen’s “Romjulsdrøm” he is able to convey in a way that gives the legendary song a new dimension. And the way he performs “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” with both voice and violin is magical. This journalist is far from a music expert, but for me it’s only the duet performance of this song with Mahalia Jackson and Louis Armstrong at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1970 that surpasses  Rybak’s performance.

Fans from far away
Anni Jowett (left.) and Anatasia Silakova came from respectively Nottingham and Moscow to Grorud church to see their favourite Alexander Rybak. He in turn sent many flirtatious glances during the concert towards the two, who of course sat in the front row.

Completely devoted fans

And then you maybe can understand why Anni Jowett from Nottingham, England and Anastasia Silakova from Moscow have even come to see Alexander Rybak in Grorud church. The latter learned quite fluent Norwegian in one year after Alexander won the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 in her home city Moscow. Just so she could understand everything written about him in Norwegian and of course listen to his songs in Norwegian.

– We also managed to attend the concert in Bøler church. But it is  the one here at Grorud we really are coming for. We were here last year too, says Anastasia.

It was after Alexander’s victory in Moscow that Anni also became completely devoted. She tries to attend as many concerts as possible and was of course also in Norway earlier this year when Alexander won this year’s Norwegian final, and after that headed in the direction of this year’s international final in Lisbon.

The two are contributors to the website www.alexanderrybaknews.com where absolutely everything their favourite artist does is duly published!
Right after the concert, after of course having a chat with Alexander and a picture taken, they headed straight home to Nottingham and Moscow. Next year they are sure to be back in Grorud church where there probably will be two new sold out church rooms in the valley’s own cathedral!

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