Text and photos by Tom Skjeklesæther
Found by Zhanna Sergueeva. Translation by Marianne Saietz and Venche M. English revision by Anni Jowett
Photo: The quintet, that filled Immanuels church yesterday evening: Alexander Rybak, Marian Aas Hansen, Tor Endresen, Elisabeth Andreassen and Rune Larsen. A performance which, also visually, showed the church in a stylish light.
Great voices in full church
Thursday evening, Halden and Immanuels church was visited by the finest Christmas-concert-veterans in the country. Something, a fully booked church knew how to appreciate.
The influx of people who want musical help, to get in the right Christmas-mood, is apparently significant. It was said, that there were more than 900 on the pews and that people had come all the way from Oslo to fill up the last seats. The Bergen-native Rune Larsen, is among those who have made Christmas-concerts of the most spectacular kind for the longest time and thus, this year’s version of “Stille Natt, Hellige Natt” is actually a 25-year anniversary.
The ensemble is busy, to put it mildly. They perform no less than 45 concerts in 37 churches from Kristiansand in the south – to Trondheim in the north.
«Stille Natt Hellige Natt» also has a long-lasting collaboration with the Strømme-foundation, and a profit from the concerts and from the sales of the newly released CD «Julekonserten Stille Natt Hellige Natt» is given to the foundation.
Photo: One of the highlights yesterday evening was the performance by Tor Endresen of “Feliz Navidad”, complete with Jose Feliciano-guitar by guitarist Olav Torget.
Violinice from Rybak
It has been some years since «Stille Natt Hellige Natt» last performed in Immanuels church and there have been some changes in the artist lineup in the recent years. The most fresh on the team is Grand Prix-winner and enfant terrible ( “bad boy”) of Norwegian pop-music, Alexander Rybak, who yesterday had loaded his violin with lots of Christmas-musical punch.
There is no doubt, that (still?) young Rybak, masters his instrument to his fingertips and yesterday, he gave a striking performance of self-composed variations over «Vi tenner våre lykter».
He told, that he had a special relationship with the Christmas-TV-series ” Jul i Skomakergata” ( Christmas in Cobbler-street”). It was one of his first experiences of Norwegian Christmas-celebration when he moved here with his parents from Belarus.
” Vi tenner våre lykter” contained neck-breaking quotes from, what in this writers ears, sounded like solid doses of Eastern-European folk tunes. As pop singer, however, Rybak has some clear limitations.
Photo: Alexander Rybak has no plans to trade in his fiddle.
Rune Larsen has the perfect voice and dialect, to tie together a program like the one, we were served in the church Thursday evening. His anecdotes from life were accurately fitting in length and moral content. Especially the story about the little boy with leg-braces, who chose the smallest puppy at the kennel. A choice that touched and moved the breeder to refrain from payment with the words ” Nobody pays for love”.
Song-wise it was Elisabeth Andreassen, Marian Aas Hansen and Tor Endresen who presented the demanding efforts in a program which moved from the worldly to the classical. Endresen received the biggest applause for his performance of Jussi Björlings “O heliga nat”.