A Baltic State of Mind

This episode originally aired on February 27, 2011

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

This week on the Choral Mix, host Kent Tritle takes us for a ride on the Baltic side.

In Minnesota, there's a strong tradition of choral singing that stems from its northern European heritage. We’ll delve into that Nordic influence by focusing on composers and choirs alike from countries bordering the Baltic Sea. Highlights of our Nordic excursion include works by Arvo Pärt and Einojuhani Rautavaara, along with ensembles from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Minnesota, and Sweden. 

From where did this tradition emerge? During the 19th century, thousands of Norwegians migrated to Minnesota. They brought along with them their rich musical heritage, particularly their traditions of choral singing. In 1851, the first singing school opened in St. Anthony. Soon thereafter, the Plymouth Congregational Church of Minneapolis established its singing group for men in 1857, and later came the Ladies' Thursday Musical Chorus, in 1892. With Nordic singing groups and organizations on the rise, the influence grew. Many Lutheran colleges began forming choirs with Nordic singers, and numerous singing organizations were founded. By 1896, five music clubs joined together to form the Union of Scandinavian Singers.

As we hear, with composers such as Pärt and Rautavaara among others, Northern Europe maintains its influence on contemporary music.


1. (open, then underscore)St Olaf College Choir, F.Melius Christiansen/St Olaf Choir Choral Masterworks Series, Vol.I/O savior throw open the heavens wide, track 1/Brahms/Northfield, MN

2. KFUMS Kammerkor Stockholm, Ragnar Bohlin/Höstlandskap/Geistliches Lied, track 3/Brahms/Stockholm, Sweden

3. Finnish Radio Chamber Choir, Timo Nuoranne/Vigilia/Tracks 1-7/Rautavaara/Helsinki, Finland

4. Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Tonu Kaljuste/Arvo Pärt Te Deum/Track 1, first 16:40 minutes of music, fade before next choral entrance at 16:41/Arvo Pärt/Tallinn, Estonia

5. Chamber Choir Hymnia,Flemming Windekilde/Alfred Schnittke Requiem and Concerto for Mixed Chorus/An expert in human passions Track 2/Alfred Schnittke/Copenhagen, Denmark

6. Choir of Saint Ignatius Loyola, Kent Tritle/Beatitudes, track 5/Arvo Pärt/New York, New York /7:55

Weigh in: Do you have a favorite Nordic composer or choir? Tell us about it below.

Comments [4]

Daniel Meeter from Brooklyn

I just loved this broadcast, and I thank Jeff Spurgeon for pointing me to it. Every piece is wonderful. Is the St Ignatius / Part Beatitudes available in recording?

Oct. 21 2011 03:48 PM
Anna from Morristown

About 10 years ago, I bought "A Scandinavian Christmas" CD by
Choral Arts Northwest on Loft Recordings from a sale rack at a Lincoln Center store. Please listen to "Den yndigste rose" by Henrik Odegaard. It is one of the most beautiful Christmas songs I have ever heard. Thank you, Anna

Sep. 11 2011 09:53 PM

just beautiful.

Sep. 05 2011 09:17 PM
Gary Ekman from Manhattan NYC

The Nuoranne piece is amazing. I don't think I've ever heard singing in quarter tones (quarter steps?) before, it's a revelation. The basso profundo soloist is truly unearthly.

Aug. 28 2011 01:03 PM

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