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‘Nordic Voices’ celebrates local Norwegian heritage | Kitsap Week

Noted soprano Rebekah Kenote AuYueng will perform the roles of Solveig and Anitra in Bremerton Symphony’s performance of “Peer Gynt.”                     - Courtesy photo
Noted soprano Rebekah Kenote AuYueng will perform the roles of Solveig and Anitra in Bremerton Symphony’s performance of “Peer Gynt.”
— image credit: Courtesy photo

BREMERTON — “Nordic Voices,” a celebration of Norwegian heritage in Kitsap County, is March 16, 6:30 p.m., at the  Bremerton High School Performing Arts Center, 1500 13th St.

For tickets, call the Bremerton Symphony, (360) 373-1722. Tickets will also be available at the door.

The concert will feature Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt” in the original edition, using selections from Henrik Ibsen’s play, with spoken dialogue, songs, choruses, and music for the traditional Norwegian Hardanger fiddle.

The wedding dances will be performed using two Hardanger fiddles, which were brought to Washington state in the 19th Century. The ladies of the symphony’s Chorale will sing in the original Norwegian.

The symphony will also present soprano Rebekah Kenote AuYeung, fresh from performances with members of the New York Philharmonic, who will perform the roles of Solveig and Anitra.

In one scene, Peer Gynt explores deep caverns until he is confronted by trolls — teenage trolls. As everyone knows, to be beautiful, a troll must have at least two heads and a tail. The trolls all make fun of Peer Gynt. All, that is, except for the daughter of the Mountain King, who agrees that even though Peer is from an ugly race of one-headed beings, she will take him as a boyfriend.

This is entirely too much for the troll leadership. Elder trolls sound the alarm and summon the troll pack to deal with Peer Gynt. He tries to escape by tiptoeing from the deep Hall of the Mountain King back up to earth but is spotted by troll watchmen. The trolls fall upon Peer and begin beating him and planning their dinner menu with Peer as the main course.

At the last moment, just as Peer is giving up, the early-morning church bells ring. Since trolls cannot stand the light of day, they scatter back into the deep caverns and Peer is saved.

Peer Gynt is all mythology, frivolity and comic relief, while the first half of the concert features some of the most beautiful music ever written. “Mahler composed his Fourth Symphony during the happiest period of his life,” conductor Alan Futterman said. “He was married to Alma, one of the most beautiful women in Vienna, and had two beautiful daughters. This is delightful music completely devoid of the angst and anxiety of his later works. To illustrate his happy disposition, Mahler created this entire symphony around a song entitled ‘Das Himmlische Leben’ or ‘The Heavenly Life.’ ”

AuYeung will also sing “Våren (The Last Spring)” by Edvard Grieg in Norwegian and Richard Strauss’ “Frühling (Spring)” and “Im Abendrot (At Sunset)”.

“This is exquisite music for orchestra and voice,” Futterman said. “It is said that Strauss had a perfect understanding of the female voice — which was hammered into him by the imperious ruling hand of his wife, soprano Pauline de Ahna.”

 

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