Det Norske Solistkor (The Norwegian Soloists’ Choir) occupies a unique position in the music life of Norway. The choir has given over two hundred premier performances of which over seventy have been of works by Norwegian composers. The choir was established in 1950 by the Norwegian Soloists’ Society with the aim of becoming an elite ensemble for performing choral music to the highest possible standard. The choir’s first conductor was Knut Nystedt, who led the ensemble for forty years.
Knut Nystedt was born in Christiania (now Oslo) on September 3, 1915. He grew up in a musical home and started playing the piano as a 9 year old. In 1928 he began studying with Arild Sandvold who remained his teacher when he switched to the organ as his main instrument in 1931. Knut Nystedt graduated as an organist at the Conservatory in Oslo in 1936 and debuted in the Vår Frelsers church in 1938. As an organist, he worked at Lilleborg church in the period from 1938 to 1946, and then in Torshov church from 1946 to -82. His conductor career started in 1938 with the choir of the trade union at Lillestrøm. In the following years he conducted numerous choirs before he established The Norwegian Soloists’ Choir in 1950. The choir toured Scandinavia, the USA and Asia. Over the years as a conductor for the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir he composed numerous works for choir, received numerous awards, was appointed Knight of 1 class and later commander of the order of St. Olav, and maintained a high level of activity, even long after he ended his work for the choir.
Since 1990 the choir has sung under the leadership of Grete Pedersen, internationally acclaimed for her stylistically assured and musically convincing performances. Through a great number of concerts in Norway and abroad, recordings for radio and television, and CD recordings, she has become one of the most noted and sought-after conductors in the Nordic countries.
The members of the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir are professionally trained, hand-picked singers all of whom are potential soloists in their respective genres. The choir engages twenty-six singers on time-limited contracts, a model which allows the number of singers to be varied according to the repertoire of a particular project. This gives both flexibility and stability and permits the choir to achieve its overall object at all times: the best possible musical results. The Norwegian Soloists’ Choir performs in Norway and in other countries, at venues ranging from concert halls and churches to ball rooms and bus garages. The choir maintains a youthful profile, receptive to and willing to perform newly written works, while at the same time retaining a fundament of classical works from the Nordic and international choral repertoire.
The Norwegian Soloists´Choir released two CD-recordings on BIS Records in 2011: “White Night”, containing Norwegian folk music adapted for choir, soloist and fiddle, was described by Gramophone as “some of the most striking and moving singing put down on disc for years.” The latest release, “Im Herbst”, contains “hidden gems” by the romantic composers Johannes Brahms and Schubert. Upcoming recordings, containing contemporary music by Fartein Valen, Olivier Messiaen, Alban Berg and Anton Webern, will be released on CD by BIS Records in January 2013.