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Trondheim Voices has since the early 2000s been one of Norway’s most innovative and influential vocal ensembles.  Each singer’s individuality, and her timbre combined with the other voices, are in focus, resulting in a unique quality to the group´s collective sound. The album “Gjest Song” invites the listener into a timeless space, with music composed by Chrsitian Wallumrød.

In 2015, Trondheim Voices and Wilad at Art made a Gestamtkunstwerk called “Gjestehus”, a long durational performance which took place in a 5 days round the clock open event in Lademoen church during the Trondheim International Olavsfest the same year. Christian Wallumrød was invited to write music that was continuously performed and shaped day by day. Recorded in Melhus kirke in 2020, 5 years after the premiere, the material had time to mature further, without differencing itself too much from the original piece of art: 

«Christian´s compositions are mostly the same as the first performance, but on the album, we have opened it up a bit more and added some ideas that turned into collective improvisational processes. A big part of the recording is also the sound of the room and building where we sing, living it´s on life in interaction with the weather outside”. -Sissel Vera Pettersen, Trondheim Voices

Based on the original project´s placement and perspective of time, Christian Wallumrød has composed textless music based on a material which could be shaped in collaboration with the singers, and which could appear at very different times, be combined in various ways and withstand repetition and reuse through the relatively long-time span.

«I´m happy that Trondheim Voices took the initiative to record the music, and it´s been nice that it has been some time since it was originally performed and tested. To record something, create a sound, sequencing and form, will always bring forward its own logic and weight. To me it felt like a natural consequence, a type of continuation where we in collaboration focused on the sound and the musicality. I like that the room and sound of the place we worked have put such a distinct character on the recording. In some way it is also a peripheral reminder of the specific placement of the original performance situation”. – Christian Wallumrød 

Trondheim Voices is a groundbreaking Norwegian ensemble of improvising vocalists, constantly challenging and changing the framework for how a vocal ensemble can produce sound art. Each singer’s individuality, and her timbre combined with the other voices, are in focus, resulting in a unique quality to the groups collective sound. Through their many collaborations with cutting edge composers like Christian Wallumrød, Marilyn Mazur, Jon Balke, Mats Gustavsson and Maja Ratkje, they have made solid statements as developers within vocal and improvised music. Trondheim Voices are exploring and developing new music in the interaction between the singers, the audience, their surroundings and new technology. 

Christian Wallumrød has worked as a musician and composer since 1992, and he is considered one of the most prominent and influential musicians of his generation in Norway. Following his debut on ECM Records (“No Birch”, 1996), he has released a string of albums with Christian Wallumrød Ensemble (CWE) on the same label, all to considerable critical acclaim. The album “Outstairs” (2013) was awarded the Norwegian Grammy´s (Spellemannprisen). Brutter (2012), Christian’s collaboration with drummer brother Fredrik, has released three albums (Hubro). Hubro is also the home for albums with CWE and Dans Les Arbres, as well as Wallumrød’s solo piano records Pianokammer (2015) and Speaksome (2021). Wallumrød has written commissioned works for Ensemble Allegria, Håkon Stene, Oslo Strykekvartett, BOA and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra.

Trondheim Voices – «Gjest Song»
Compositions by Christian Wallumrød

1. Open Aften 05:26
2. Sakte Draw 02:30
3. Hei Morrow 04:00
4. Sixth Anneks 05:35
5. Kor Somnolent 04:04
6. Fishdance 03:30
7. Bygda Triads 01:58
8. Urte Garden 05:24
9. Sol Sway 03:55
10. Sonic Mold 02:35

Trondheim Voices:
Sissel Vera Pettersen (artistic director)
Tone Åse
Natali Abrahamsen Garner
Torunn Sævik
Anita Kaasbøll
Heidi Skjerve
Ingrid Lode
Marianna Sangita Røe

All compositions by Christian Wallumrød
Arrangements and improvisations by Trondheim Voices on Sakte Draw, Hei Morrow, Kor Somnolent, Sol Sway and Sonic Mold

Mixed and produced by Kyrre Laastad.
Recorded by Kyrre Laastad in Melhus Kirke.
Mastered by Helge Sten at Audio Virus LAB

Photo by: Bjørn Ante
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The Sound of Contemporary Living, Eirik Hegdal and Trondheim Voices

What is the sound of contemporary living? What is the soundtrack that follows our modern lives, our habits and everyday rituals? (-which sometimes can seem quite absurd taken out of context..) This was the starting point of what was supposed to become the staged performance “The Sound Of Contemporary Living”, a collaboration between Trondheim Voices, choreographer Jo Strømgren and composer Eirik Hegdal. The show was hit hard by the pandemic, and then again by a strike in the Norwegian theatre industry.

But, in a time where we have learned to readjust, the project now re-emerges as an album! The music and lyrics for «The Sound of Contemporary Living» is composed by Eirik Hegdal, and it shifts effortlessly between popular and contemporary, between composed and improvised, acoustic and ambient. The singers uses Maccatrols, designed by Asle Karstad, which enables live electronic processing of the voices. Hegdal has also contributed with programming and editing of the recorded music.

Trondheim Voices:
Sissel Vera Pettersen (artistic director)
Anita Kaasbøll
Heidi Skjerve
Kari Eskild Havenstrøm
Siri Gjære
Mia Marlen Berg

Mix by Kyrre Laastad & Eirik Hegdal
Master by Karl Klaseie
Cover design by Juliane Schütz
Produced by Eirik Hegdal
Co-produced by Sissel Vera Pettersen

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Folklore by Ståle Storløkken and Helge Sten

Folklore (Traditional Customs, Tales, Sayings, Dances, Or Art Forms Preserved Among a People)
by Ståle Storløkken and Helge Sten

The celebrated improvising vocal group Trondheim Voices and two of Norway’s most important composer/producers, Helge Sten and Stale Storlokken, explore the boundaries of sound in a series of thirteen other-worldly pieces that act on the ears of the listener like magical invocations to a secret ceremony. 

Led by Sissel Vera Pettersen, the nine female singers combine in rich and varied ensemble effects, from choral polyphony to extended-vocal techniques that recall Cathy Berberian interpreting Luciano Berio, or the expressive use of voices by Norway’s Arne Nordheim. Throughout, the intense focus of the music, with the sequence of pieces alternating between compositions by Sten and by Storlokken, helps to cast a powerful cumulative spell. Dark, ritualistic chants are mixed with whoops, wails and ecstatic ullulations, while the acoustic purity of the unaccompanied voices is brought into sharp relief by a very sparing use of subtle electronic enhancement and rhythmic percussion. Recorded with perfect clarity by Jo Ranheim at Ora Studio, and mixed and produced by Helge Sten and Stale Storlokken, the result is a work of great beauty and meditative power. 

Originating in a 2018 commission for Sten and Storlokken to compose for Trondheim Voices, ‘Folklore’ has more to do with the present than the non-specific historical past so often associated with ‘folk’ forms. Like Ari Astar’s hallucinogenic folk-horror film ‘Midsummar’ from 2019, there’s an abiding concern with ritual and magic, evident in song titles such as ‘Chant For The Multipresence’, ‘Facing the Outerworld’ and ‘All Stand, Head Erect, Eyes Open’, and the emphatic, wordless intonation of the ensemble. 

“The overall idea was to base the full piece around the concept and scope of folkloristic traditions”, says Helge Sten, who composed seven of the thirteen songs as well as co-producing with Stale Storlokken. “I think this helped us to find a common platform that would support our different approaches to composing music, and thus consolidate the various parts into one unified piece. Folklore traditions often point towards an abstract, esoteric and mental landscape, which opens up a wide scope for composing music. The initial idea was to work heavily with digital sound processing technology, focusing on the human voice, but before we started work an almost opposite idea started to take shape: being composers and performers using technology extensively, it seemed more intriguing to explore ideas in the direction of crude and primitive folk traditions, where the human voice has always been central in language and music. These traditions often connect nature, society, rituals and the esoteric into powerful imagery that’s often lacking in today’s technology-driven society.”

Referencing the work of the influential Cornish artist and writer Ithell Colquhoun (1906-1988) and the great contemporary German film-maker Werner Herzog, Helge Sten feels that the use of folklore does not restrict experimental artists to the world of the past. “It is very much a reflection of current and future mysteries that we in many ways choose to ignore, much in the same way we choose to ignore the powerful tools brought to us by esoteric folkloristic traditions”, he says. “The compositions on the album are not derived from folk themes, even though it seems unavoidable to explore these ideas without some reference to folk music and culture. We also worked extensively with quarter-tones throughout, which is closer to the world of folk music than the chromatic twelve note scale, as well as using a set of microtonal handbells. Another interesting aspect of choosing the folkloristic traditions as a base for our work was that it slowly reintroduced some of the technology we initially rejected, and helped to make the overall piece much more integrated than we had anticipated.”

This sense of integration extends to the experience of listening to ‘Folklore’, too. The sepulchral-sounding reverb of the intensely focused sound, the huge dynamic range of the recording, and the sheer beauty and collective strength of the ensemble’s voices, help to elicit a very powerful response. Whether heard attentively or as an ambient, contemplative backdrop, ‘Folklore’ acts as a kind of magical sacrament. 

Helge Sten (born 1971, also known as Deathprod) is a composer, musician and producer who over three decades has become perhaps the most influential figure on the contemporary Norwegian music scene. A founder-member of the group Supersilent, and a mainstay of the Hubro, Smalltown Supersound and Rune Grammofon labels, he has composed for Ensemble Modern, collaborated with Biosphere, among many others, and produced many of Norway’s new wave of experimental artists. 

Stale Storlokken (born 1969) is one of the most prolific and eclectic figures in Norwegian jazz and experimental music, with a recording career dating back to 1991. He has longstanding musical relationships with a host of artists, from Terje Rypdal and Arve Henriksen to the bands Supersilent, Motorpsycho and Elephant9.

Trondheim Voices, voices & percussion:
Sissel Vera Pettersen (artistic director)
Anita Kaasbøll
Tone Åse
Ingrid Lode
Torunn Sævik
Kari Eskild Havenstrøm
Heidi Skjerve
Siri Gjære
Natali Abrahamsen Garner

1. Chant For The Multipresence
2. Ascend
3. Facing The Outerworld
4. Aether III
5. Descend
6. Choral
7. Aether I
8. Illumination II
9. Counter-Earth
10. Illumination I
11. All Stand, Head Erect, Eyes Open
12. Facing The Innerworld
13. Aether II

Ståle Storløkken: Kyma processing track 3, 6, 7, 10.
Helge Sten: Electronics track 5.

Mixed and produced by Ståle Storløkken & Helge Sten.
Recorded by Jo Ranheim at Øra Studio.
Aether III was recorded by Ingar Hunskaar at Nasjonal Jazzscene.
Mastered by Helge Sten at Audio Virus LAB

Track 1, 3, 6, 8, 10 & 12 composed by Ståle Storløkken.
Track 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 & 13 composed by Helge Sten.

Cover design: Yokoland (Aslak Gurholt & Thomas Nordby)
Hubro Music / Grappa Musikkforlag 2020

Trondheim Voices is a department of Midtnorsk Jazzsenter, and is supported by the Norwegian Arts Counsil and the city of Trondheim.

Photo Carsten Aniksdal and Thor Egil Leirtrø
Photo André Løyning
Cover design by Yokoland (Aslak Gurholt & Thomas Nordby)
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Echo Chamber 3.0 / Ekkokammer 3.0 by Maja S.K. Ratkje and Trondheim Voices

Echo Chamber 3.0 is a concert performance for the ear, by Maja S. K. Ratkje written for Trondheim Voices in 2020. The piece is a continuation of Ekkokammer 2.0 which is a staged performance, premiered in 2015.

The voice is a unique instrument, inevitably connected to the body. Everybody has a voice – that can be shared and interpreted among all who can hear. A voice can soothe or shake, in recognition or provocation. Never boring! The music of the vocal cords has direct access to the human soul. Echo Chamber is all about what it means to have a voice, metaphorically as well as physically. What do you wish to express with your voice? The singers’ own answers and thoughts to this question comes through in this piece. All spoken text is exact transcriptions from interviews with performers in Trondheim Voices, but the lines are spread among the singers, and we no longer remember who said what in the first place. But that doesn’t matter now.

Levitra Generico (Vardenafil) in farmacia è venduto in farmacia senza prescrizione medica, quindi è disponibile a chiunque. Il risultato si nota già dopo la prima assunzione, per l’uso successivo si consiglia di ridurre il dosaggio.

Ekkokammer 3.0 and Echo Chamber 3.0 is performed by Trondheim Voices:
Mia Marlen Berg, Siri Gjære, Kari Eskild Havenstrøm, Anita Kaasbøll, Ingrid Lode, Sissel Vera Pettersen, Heidi Skjerve, Torunn Sævik and Tone Åse 
Introduction read by Marianne Meløy

Produced by Maja S. K. Ratkje and Marianne Meløy Recorded and mixed by Jo Ranheim at Øra Studio December 2019 and March 2020 
Mastered by Maja S. K. Ratkje at Svartskog June 2020
Artistic director Trondheim Voices and co-producer Sissel Vera Pettersen

Script by Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje
Music by Maja S. K. Ratkje/Trondheim Voices,
”Moonlight Shadow” by Mike Oldfield,
”Searching” by Mia Marlen Berg,
”Bruremarsj fra Gudbrandsdalen” (trad.) arranged by Øistein Sommerfeldt,
”Working on a building” (trad.) and various quotes

Cover photo by Christina Undrum Andersen
Cover design by Ernesta Vala
MNJ Records 2020
Supported by Norsk Kulturråd & Trondheim Kommune

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Album released June 15th 2018.

Trondheim Voices + Asle Karstad
Roms & Rituals
Grappa, 2018

Text by: Richard Williams

These voices are like no choir you ever heard. They can form pale clouds of sound, or pools of glowing light, or bright shafts of pure sound. Phrases can soar before suddenly reversing direction and travelling backwards, but along a different tangent. Rising from the luminous sound beds — sometimes lush, sometimes austere – float a disembodied melody from an ancient world, an overheard conversation, a whisper from the past, the rumblings of a distant storm, the babble of children, or something that sounds like the ambient chatter of an asteroid belt. The individual strands cluster, entwine, swell, and then disperse, perhaps to leave a single voice exposed in all its natural beauty before others return to take up its cues and head off in a new direction.

Trondheim Voices draw from a pool of up to 10 female singers, performing usually in a group of seven to nine, presenting music that is mostly improvised but can include composed or traditional materials. In the past they have given the premieres of specially commissioned pieces by distinguished composers including Marilyn Mazur, Jon Balke, Christian Wallumrød and Ståle Storløkken. Their performances are often site-specific and make use of the element of mobility enabled by their use of a unique technology.

As they move around the performance space, the singers wear small wireless boxes featuring controls that enable each one to modify her voice through the manipulation of effects that include reverb, delay, pitch-shift and looping. These boxes are called Maccatrols, developed and designed exclusively for the ensemble by Asle Karstad and Arnvid Lau Karstad. The voices are the sole sound source and, as unlikely as it sometimes sounds, everything the audience hears is created in real time. The organic and the technological elements combine to make something genuinely innovative.

This album consists of pieces taken from several performances, including one at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin in 2017. As the director of Jazzfest Berlin, it was my privilege to introduce them to an audience that quickly fell under the spell of their quietly dramatic combination of musical and theatrical elements. It was a performance that made full use of the meditative atmosphere created by the modernist church’s hexagonal space, its stained-glass windows and its special acoustical properties. Two pieces here are from that concert, one of them (“Hymn”) featuring a Norwegian folk song against a backdrop that shows what strikingly sensitive, original and emotionally resonant effects the singers and their sound designer can create from apparently simple materials. For both the singers and their audience, this is music in a constant state of discovery.

Cover design: Ernesta Vala
Photo: Martynas Milkevicius

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Trondheim Voices & Batagraf: On Anodyne

Trondheim Voices & Batagraf:
On Anodyne
Grappa,  2016

“On Anodyne” is Jon Balke’s commissioned work for the vocal ensemble Trondheim Voices and percussion group Batagraf, based on the poem “Anodyne” by the American poet Yusef Komunyakaa.

“On Anodyne” pays tribute to the body, to music, to human beings.

The work, a suite for nine voices and four percussionists, had its world premiere at the Molde Jazz Festival in 2011. Anodyne means analgesic or soothing, and the subject of the piece is relieving pain. The concert was held in Molde on 23 July of that year, as a subdued and lovely way of showing respect for the victims of the previous day, one of the darkest days in Norway’s history, when a lone killer murdered innocent teenagers at a summer camp. The work was inspired by the Wolof song tradition of Africa. Balke’s point of departure was the playful approach of Trondheim Voices to the endless possibilities and harmonic riches inherent in the human voice, along with the rhythmic tapestry woven by Batagraf.

“The musical concept was based on a return to the origins of music: voices and drums, without the involvement of any kind of processing, effects, or other instrumentation. Just a semi-circle of people who are singing and playing,” Balke himself says about the piece. “The poem ‘Anodyne’ was discovered by chance online, but served our purpose admirably: using a long poem as a source of inspiration for a musical work. Komunyakaa’s link to African rhythms imbued the phrases with a powerful drive that was a perfect match to the combination of drums and voices.”

The percussion collective Batagraf was established by Jon Balke in 2005. Batagraf is described as a musical “think tank”, and from the start its objective has been to explore the connections between rhythm, language and literary content. Batagraf has collaborated with a long list of poets, comedians, dancers and writers, and has released two critically acclaimed albums on the ECM label.

“On Anodyne” was recorded and mixed at Rainbow Studio, and was produced by Live Maria Roggen, Jon Balke and Jan Erik Kongshaug

Trondheim Voices:
Live Maria Roggen: vocals, Siri Gjære: vocals, Torunn Sævik: vocals, Tone Åse: vocals, Sissel Vera Pettersen: vocals, Anita Kaasbøll:  vocals

Jon Balke: percussion, Helge Norbakken: percussion, Snorre Bjerck: percussion, Ingar Zach: percussion

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