SKRUK performs playful and exciting arrangements of spirituals

Conductor: Per Oddvar Hildre

SKRUK has always had spirituals in its repertoire, but now, finally, they are devoting a whole album to this genre.

For 36 years, the well-loved choir SKRUK has been an innovative and rejuvenating force in Norwegian choir music. Under its conductor, Per Oddvar Hildre, this choir has developed a very special Norwegian choir sound, very removed from ideals that prevail in Great Britain, the USA, Germany and Sweden. And when it comes to repertoire, Hildre and his at all times 50 singers (this number is carefully adapted to practical realities, such as how many persons can travel by chartered coach) have introduced Norwegian choir enthusiasts to new musical sources. In 1981, they introduced what they called church music from New Orleans, in 1990 it was Andean mountain music, in 1997 Azerbaijani “mugam” and in 2008, folk songs for mass from Nicaragua, to mention just a few of the many types of music SKRUK has performed to the surprise and enjoyment of its listeners.

A regular feature throughout the choir’s life has been a genre they are only now dedicating a whole CD to; the Negro spiritual. And here they get into full swing in sophisticated and at times even muscular arrangements. These songs have often reaped the greatest applause and enthusiasm from the audience during concerts, but to the disappointment of their fans none of their records has fully featured these songs. Now, after all these years of constant demand SKRUK has finally decided to dedicate this year’s recording session to a whole CD with Afro-American spirituals.

Since 1987, SKRUK has enlisted the help of legendary conductor Samuel Carver Davenport from New Orleans to help refine and polish their performance of songs in this genre. He has been a frequent visitor at rehearsals and on trips, and this summer he also joined in a hectic practice session before the recordings were made in August.

All the songs are for choir a cappella, and several arrangements are written by another legend of spirituals, Moses Hogan, a personal friend of Davenport. He writes in a dense and spectacular style, exploiting the many ways language can be used to help the music swing.

The songs on the CD include “Give me Jesus”, “Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel”, “What a friend we have in Jesus”, “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho”, “Elijah Rock” and “We shall overcome”.

The album was recorded in Vanylven church by Alf Christian Hvidsteen, the sound specialist who has developed the greatest expertise in Norway on recording sound in churches, while Erik Hillestad has been the producer. The album is released by KKV, as just about all SKRUK records have been over the years.

SKRUK and Nymark Collective // Dype, stille, sterke, milde (Deep, still, strong, mild) // fxcd 312 (2006)
SKRUK // Sommerlandet (Summerland) // fxcd 283 (2004)
SKRUK and Rim Banna // Krybberom (The room of the cradle) // fxcd 276 (2003)
SKRUK, Geirr Lystrup, Torunn Sævik and Moscow Balalaika Quartet // Stjerna fra øst (The star from east) // fxcd 260 (2002)
SKRUK // På nytt (A new way of SKRUK) // fxcd 254 (2002)
SKRUK and Susana Peña // Vuelo Libre // fxcd 228 (2000)
SKRUK // Stjernen ledet vise menn (The star led the wise men) // fxcd 206 (1998)
SKRUK // Landet vi kommer fra (The country we came from) // fxcd 188 (1997)
SKRUK // En for alle (One for all) // fxcd 150 (1995)
SKRUK and Altiplano // Misa Andina // fxcd 127, fxcd 127-2 (lyrics in english) (1993)
SKRUK // Landskap av stemmer (Landscape of voices) // fxcd 114 (1992)
SKRUK // Stille natt (Silent night) // fxcd 111 (1991)
SKRUK // Slipp mine fløyter fri (Release my pipes) // fxcd 98 (1990)
SKRUK and The New Orleans Gospel Choir // Living gospel // fxcd 90 (1989)
SKRUK and Ytre Suløen Jazz-Ensamble // Kvite som negrar (White as Negroes) // fxcd 31 (1981)
SKRUK // Klenodier (Treasures) // nkcd 16 (1979)
SKRUK and Vårsøg // Av moll er du komen til dur skal du bli (From minor to major) // fxcd 14 (1978)
SKRUK // Smykker fra bedehuset (Jewls from the house of prayers) // nkcd 12 (1978)
SKRUK // SKRUK // fxcd 9 (1977)

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