In 2015, the Norwegian innovative vocal ensemble Trondheim Voices and Wild at Art initiated a «Gjestehus» (guest house), a long durational performance that took place in a five-day open event, round the clock at the Lademoen church during the Trondheim International Olavsfest the same year. Composer and pianist Christian Wallumrød was invited to write music for the ensemble that was continuously performed and shaped day by day. Wallumrød has written before commissioned works for Ensemble Allegria, Håkon Stene, Oslo Strykekvartett, BOA and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra.
The album Gjest Song (guest song) was recorded five years after the premiere of Wallumrød’s music, at the Melhus kirke in December 2020. The recording extracted and developed Wallumrød’s music and allowed it to mature further and add some ideas that evolved from collective improvisations but without differentiating itself too much from the original piece of art.
Wallumrød composed wordless songs that focused on the ensemble’s sound and musicality. These songs adapt themselves to the distinct acoustics of the churches’ spaces and could be shaped in collaboration with the Trondheim Voices’ vocalists, and they could be performed at very different times, be combined in various ways, and withstand repetition and reuse through the relatively long-time span.
Gjest Song offers a different listening experience from previous projects of Trondheim Voices with Marilyn Mazur, Jon Balke, Mats Gustavsson and Maja Ratkja. It invites the listener into a timeless space. The celestial-angelic voices of the ensemble – Sissel Vera Pettersen (the artistic director of Trondheim Voices), Tone Åse, Natali Abrahamsen Garner, Torunn Sævik, Anita Kaasbøll, Heidi Skjerve, Ingrid Lode, Marianna Sangita Røe – let their voices float, fill and resonate gently within the acoustics of Melhus kirke. These individual ethereal voices, each with her own distinct timbre, blend into the other voices and suggest a collective unity, even when Wallumrød suggests weird, whirlwind-like, or abstract vocalizations (check «Fishdance» and «Urte Garden»). The meditative, often hymn-like spirit of most of these wordless songs (check «Hei Morrow» and «Kor Somnolent») offers an introspective sonic haven for deep, almost dream-like contemplation, within the beautiful vocal sounds and out-of-time.
You can listen to these songs that do not subscribe to any familiar mold on repeat, especially on dark days knowing that they will offer a comforting medicine.
Sissel Vera Pettersen (v), Tone Åse (v), Natali Abrahamsen Garner (v), Torunn Sævik (v), Anita Kaasbøll (v), Heidi Skjerve (v), Ingrid Lode (v), Marianna Sangita Røe (v)