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Frode Fjellheim: new Cantus disc on Decca celebrates Northern Lights

(April 2017)

Norwegian composer Frode Fjellheim has created the music for the new Northern Lights album on Decca, performed by the voices of his longtime collaborator, the choir Cantus.

Music by Trondheim-based composer Frode Fjellheim is most familiar from the opening track of the Disney animated feature film Frozen, where his Eatnemen Vuelie is sung by the Norwegian choir Cantus. Fjellheim has written the music for the choir's new album Northern Lights, the first under a new contract with Decca Records, due for international release on 12 May.

From a population of 170,000 in rural Trondheim, 32 women helped unearth the ethereal sounds of Norway to the world. During the first research trip to the country, Frozen’s producers stopped at a shop and picked up some CDs for the journey. Driving around the country exploring the beauties of the land, the producers in turn discovered the sound of Cantus, the hidden voices of Norway, and the ‘yoik’ – a traditional form of song from the Sami people of the Nordic countries.

Comparable to the chanting of some Native American cultures, the yoik often mimics the sounds of nature, and this is evoked in many of Cantus’ recordings on the new album. The lead track, Vuelie – or Earth Song – weaves the celestial voices of the all-female choir with steady chanting reminiscent of repetitive rain or snow, in the all familiar opening to the hit film. The involvement with Disney has given Fjellheim and the choir much attention across the globe. Since the film’s release in 2013, Norway has seen a 20% increase in tourism, with Disney enthusiasts as well as music and culture lovers flocking to the country to experience the real Frozen.

Frode Fjellheim comments:
"With this new album, we hope to expose the world to the rich heritage and music in Norway. I’m so proud of the choir, who’ve worked tirelessly on the recordings. It has been a truly wonderful project to work on."

> View a video trailer about Northern Lights 
> View a video providing background on the album 

Since its establishment in 1986, Cantus has been led by one of Norway's most acclaimed conductors, Tove Ramlo-Ystad. A singer herself and the choir’s Artistic Director, Tove focuses on pure and simple vocals, honing in on the beauty of the natural tone, while still maintaining homogeneity. This sound lends itself well to contemporary and traditional Norwegian folk music, for the harmonious yet personal sound for which Cantus have become renowned.

Speaking about her time with Cantus, Tove Ramlo-Ystad said:
"We have a saying in Cantus that we give from our hearts to your hearts. With our music, we have the opportunity to give something to other people, to give joy and happiness, and to be a part of that is very special. I am tremendously proud of everything the girls have achieved."

The choir members are women aged between 20 and 40, and all have day jobs outside the choir, ranging from student to nurse, hairdresser, lawyer and architect. The powerful female bond between choir members and their charismatic conductor is evident in their live performances and recordings, producing a sound that is almost otherworldly, and is one of the secrets behind their success.

The album was recorded in Trondheim, produced by Jon Cohen, and will be released on 12 May 2017 ahead of National Day of Norway on 17 May 2017, which sees processions and celebrations throughout the streets, with women all wearing traditional dress on the day.

The recent signing to Decca Records sees the choir embark on a new chapter in its musical journey, bestowing audiences with the magical sounds of Cantus and reflecting the musical heritage of Norway.


> Further information on Work: Northern Lights



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