Trent Bruner

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Choir, Choir, Lots of Choir.... Print E-mail
Greetings from Valestrand, Norway! Life has been a song and a hymn or two for me since I landed on Wednesday, September 4th, along with notation work for two music book projects for acts back home in Canada. Here is an overview of what has been happening over the past two months.

During fall 2014, I am working as a conductor for four amateur adult choirs in the Bergen area, so it has meant evening rehearsals four evenings a week with daytime planning rehearsals and concert programs, finding and arranging songs to present to various program committees with these choirs, and occasionally finding a venue or two while my family is at work and school. All of these choirs sing a variety of secular and scared repertoire in both Norwegian and English, and occasionally in other languages as well. But each of these choirs has their own favourite types of music to sing too, which gives me a lot of musical variety each week. 

In the Bergen region alone, there are over 130 amateur choirs that perform in various musical genres and tour internationally on occasion. Their membership fees and various fundraising activities help them to hire conductors that help them develop their musical abilities to their fullest potential. Demand for choir conductors is high, so this was a major factor in me getting this type of work from 2011 to the present as both a permanent conductor and working in a temporary position with four of these choirs in the Bergen area. Having a music education degree with required classes in conducting and in choral techniques, along with singing bass and tenor voices in university and church choirs in various locations in Saskatchewan has been an asset for me in my music career here in Norway.

There are two national choir associations in Norway that act as support groups for the various local choirs throughout the country; the Norwegian Singing Association (Norsk Sangerforbund – www.korsang.no) and the Norwegian Choral Federation (Norges korforbund – www.kor.no). The four choirs I am presently conducting are members of either one of these national associations.

Damekoret Toneveld is a women’s choir that meets on Monday nights in the Bergen neighbourhood of Laksevåg, just west of the downtown core. This 36 member choir is celebrating its 69th season this year. These ladies have been active in various community events in Bergen over this period, have entertained in various locations throughout Norway, and have toured internationally in Ireland, England and Austria. Most of the ladies in this choir do not read music, but they work often with practice cassettes and CDs to learn their parts, and come with a strong work ethic to every practice.

Tysnes Chamber Choir (Tysnes Kammerkor) rehearses on Tuesday nights in the Village of Tysnes, 40 kms south of Bergen. This local community choir of 23 members enjoys singing a variety of traditional sacred music and Norwegian folk music. I will be working with this choir as their temporary conductor until June 2015 when their present conductor returns from a one year leave of absence.

Unneland Community Choir
(Unnelandskoret) meets on Wednesday nights and has been in operation since 1973, when a group of school parents decided to meet and form a choir in this district located 30 kms east of Bergen’s downtown, near the Village of Indre Arna. This choir has toured to Ireland in the past and enjoys singing sacred, folk and popular music, especially Irish folk songs. I began working with Norwegian choirs through this choir in 2011 as reserve conductor and piano accompanist and continue on in this capacity to the present.

Sounds Like Us is a young adult choir that meets three Thursdays a month in the Bergen neighbourhood of Sletten, south of Bergen’s downtown. This group enjoys singing mostly contemporary gospel music, but also enjoys singing traditional Norwegian hymns along with secular pop and jazz music. The majority of the choir’s membership comes from the Slettebakken and Sædalen Lutheran congregations on Bergen’s south side. This choir is entering its sixth year of existence, appears at least twice for church services in the Bergen area throughout the school year, and performs a Christmas concert and a spring concert each season.

Between these four choirs, my concert calendar can get hectic at times, but the work is enjoyable and rewarding at the same time. The Christmas concerts with these groups begin November 18th and are completed on Wednesday, December 17th. Check the calendar section of this website for more information on dates, locations and times if you are in the Bergen area. Until next time, see you down the musical trail!

Musically yours, Trent