2003 - December 24.
Article in Rogalands Avis, Wednesday December 24. 2003
Translation by Dag Sirnes:
Jazzing up Christmas
By: Geir Hopen Nødset
Soul singer Jørn Hoel and jazz veteran Silje Nergaard are Norway's representatives in the big, Nordic Christmas concert on the very Christmas Eve. Maybe it will be as nice a tradition as (the film) ''Tante Pose'' and (the concert) ''Sølvguttene synger julen inn''.
For the very first time, four of the large, state-owned television companies in the Nordic region have joined forces on a musical fraternization that may show that, after all, there is not much difference between us - not even at Christmas.
Denmark sends the ''Norway friends'' Olsen Brothers and Sanne Salomonsen, the Swedes perform with the pop singer Jill Johnsen and conductor Anders Eljas (living in Norway). The Finns of course have "our own" Arja Saijonmaa. A completely new acquaintance, however, is the tango king Jari Sillanpää.
Hosts are Finnish Thomas Lundin and Bettina Sågbom.
The stage at the Swedish Theater in the Finnish capital Helsinki is decorated for Christmas, filled with orchestra, dancers, other artists and singing kids who help create the atmosphere.
''I do not understand why no one has thought of this before. We who participated had a very nice experience together with artists who had not heard of each other. This is a unique way for Norwegian artists who are unknown in Denmark, Finland and Sweden to become known there - and vice versa'', says Jørn Hoel, who together with Silje Nergaard gets to frolic during the hour the concert lasts.
Even though the musical Christmas Eve was recorded already at the end of November - and Hoel has never been a big fan of Christmas carols - the northerner was put in the right mood. As an adult, he has finally started to get some Christmas carol favorites.
''Yes, ''A star shines tonight'', best known for the Oslo Gospel Choir, is very nice. ''O Helga Natt'', made famous by the opera king Jussi Björling, is immortal and beautiful. ''Merry Christmas" I also like'', admits Hoel, who sneaks a Christmas version of "Lost In The Tango" into the program.
"But it will be without tequila, and with a Christmas party instead of a Latin party," he smiles.
Iceland joining next year
With musicians who work daily with everything from jazz to tango and soul to rock'n roll, the variety of Christmas songs is quite large. Hole, Johnsen, Olsen Brothers and Sillanpää open with "Now a thousand Christmas candles are lit".
Before the evening is over, viewers have heard ''Sailor Christmas in Hawaii'', ''The Little Drummer Boy'' and Silje Nergaard's own ''A Christmas Wish''. The finale is a Christmas medley with American and British Christmas classics - including ''Santa Claus Is Back in Town'', Chris Rea's ''Driving Home For Christmas'' and ''I'll Be Home For Christmas''.
So when the Christmas dinner is consumed, Christmas is sung almost simultaneously in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, while the Finns were allowed to open the show the night before.
''Now we just hope that this will be such a great success that we can repeat it for many years to come. If there is a new concert in 2004, the Icelanders will also come. There is also great interest from other European countries to be part of our musical Christmas celebration'', says project manager Jon Ola Sand in NRK.
NRK1 TV kl. 21.20
Photo: On the very Christmas Eve, there is Nordic fraternization on stage, when Silje Nergaard (center) and Jørn Hoel (right) meet Finnish Jari Sillanpää in unison. The latter was proclaimed Finland's tango king in 1995, but he likes to sing hits and rock'n roll. Photo: YLE (Finnish TV)