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Thomas Aquinas writes in the Summa Theologica: “Music is the exaltation of the mind derived from things eternal, bursting forth in sound.” The quotation most aptly describes the repertoire on the Norwegian chamber choir Schola Cantorum’s recording of hymns to Mary, the Mother of God, in which tranquillity, eternity and ‘bursting forth into sound’ are encountered in many different guises.
The composers represented here have often chosen to allow their music to evolve in stable structures and remain within static harmonic spaces even when the music becomes expressive and dramatic: Benjamin Britten, Francis Poulenc, Maurice Duruflé, Eric Whitacre, Morten Lauridsen, Martin Ødegaard, Kjell Mørk Karlsen, Anton Bruckner, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Arvo Pärt, Ola Gjeilo, Andrew Smith and Trond Kverno.
Throughout its existence the chamber choir Schola Cantorum has had high ambitions. The choir has built up an international reputation and has made it a trademark to include newly written music in its programmes. This is thanks to the work of Knut Nystedt (1915–), organist, composer and conductor, who returned to Norway in 1964 after studying in the USA and started a choir at the music department of the University of Oslo. The choir continues to recruit members from the department of music, as well as from the Norwegian Academy of Music in more recent years.
Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl trained as a singer and pianist and specialized in the Kodaly method in Hungary before taking her diploma exam in choral conducting at the Norwegian Academy of Music. She has directed Schola Cantorum since 2002.