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The Nordic Council Music Prize 2010 was awarded to the Norwegian composer Lasse Thoresen. His “Opus 42” represents a true renewal of Nordic vocal music. This strikingly beautiful piece reveals the common denominators in ancient and ultra-modern sounds, drawing our attention to the similarities between Scandinavian folk traditions and the music we might find in, say, the Middle East or India. Lasse Thoresen not only uses folk sounds to spice up art music, he also integrates its finely tuned microtonality, spectral overtones, harmonies and rhythms into the contemporary, modernist project in a truly pioneering manner. A project like this depends upon close collaboration with skilled musicians who are willing to take risks. Thoresen found them in the vocal ensemble Nordic Voices and folk singer Berit Opheim Versto.
Artistic creativity, versatility and technical precision are the main elements that make up NORDIC VOICES. The six-voice a cappella group was formed in 1996 and comprises graduates from the Norwegian Academy of Music and the Norwegian Academy of Opera, who, in addition to their singing backgrounds, have a broad range of experience from choral conducting to teacher training and composition. It is perhaps this range of interests that leads them to explore a wider than usual spectrum of musical expression, from plainchant to new works commissioned from leading Norwegian composers; from the most sacred of religious texts to the definitely profane. Nordic Voices are an unusual blend of sophisticated music-making and stylish performance, more often than not with more than a dash of humour.