Comforting soundtrack for sorrowful times.Meditations for Easter and the Holy Week on new album with Øyvind Kristiansen and Jonas Kilmork Vemøy

In a sound landscape that virtually places the listener in a cathedral Øyvind Kristiansen (piano, organ and programming) and Jonas Kilmork Vemøy (trumpet, electronics and programming) have crafted music for the Holy Week with focus on the drama of Good Friday.

The duo has created an album with improvisations of such popular hymns such as “O hode høyt forhånet” [Oh sacred wounded head], “Den stunda i Getsemane” [The agony in Gethsemane] and “Hill Deg, Frelser og Forsoner” [Hail Saviour and Redeemer]. Most of the tracks on the album are instrumental, but you will hear three popular singers on separate tracks: Beate S Lech, Marthe Haaland Wang and Mahsa Vahdat. The latter, from Iran, lets the poet Rumi comment on the familiar Good Friday hymn “Naglet til et kors på jorden” [Near the cross was Mary weeping] and has composed the melody for the poem – “A Sigh from a Loving Heart”. The duo has also meshed a string quintet into the passion music’s haunting mood of suffering, solitude and darkness.

Vemøy’s warm and soaring trumpet sound imbues all the melodies and improvisations with a powerful wordless emotional essence. Kristiansen’s expressive touch and dynamic piano improvisations combine serenity with playfulness. The music caresses the soul and gives the listener comfort and empathy, but also challenges. The main mood on the album shifts between drama and tranquillity, with a powerful dynamic lift and profound depth in the sound.

This is what the artists say about their project:

Our starting point has been the musical hymns from The Passion of Christ – the movement from Palm Sunday to Easter Vigil – and the existential contradictions of this time. In combining our fidelity to the original hymns with improvisational progression, our aim has been to explore new spaces, depths and resistance. In an ambient and occasionally rhythmic landscape our artistic goal has been to expand the interpretations and make the already familiar music personal.

The collaboration between Kristiansen and Vemøy has grown organically out of their work with the “Jacob masses” in Kulturkirken Jakob. Here, each week they create meditation music for the standard mass and the church text cycle, tinted and inspired by a number of genres ranging from traditional church music to jazz and improvisational music. This is also reflected on their new album.

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