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Schola Cantorum

Schola Cantorum has had high ambitions throughout its existence. The chamber choir has built an international reputation and made a trademark of including newly written music in its programmes. Today Schola Cantorum is one of the leading chamber choirs in Norway. Almost all choir singers have higher music education.

The choir's purpose is to work towards as high an artistic level as possible for an amateur choir. Founder Knut Nystedt (1915-2014) started Schola Cantorum at the music department of the University of Oslo in 1964. Organist, composer and conductor Nystedt studied music in the USA and brought the American choral tradition – which emphasises the importance of new music – back to Oslo. His own music also became a vital element in Schola Cantorum's repertoire.

Originally, the choir was established for music students and to provide insight into the repertoire and working methods for choirs, especially with emphasis on newly written Norwegian music. Schola Cantorum is still affiliated with the Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo. The choir continues to recruit members from the Department of Music, as well as from the Norwegian Academy of Music.

Nystedt directed Schola Cantorum until 1985, during this time he also founded and directed the Norwegian Soloists' Choir. Following an intervening period during which Jon Fylling and Carl Høgset in succession led the choir, Kåre Hanken, organist and conductor, took over in 1987. The ensuing decade included tours to Japan and South Africa and the release of two CDs, the second of which, Knut Nystedt: Choral Sacred Music (1999) was dedicated exclusively to the music of Knut Nystedt.

Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl became conductor in 2002, and has further established the choir's firm position in Norway's musical life. Schola Cantorum collaborates regularly with leading musicians and ensembles such as the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, the Staff Band of the Norwegian Armed Forces, the Norwegian Wind Ensemble and Nordic Voices.

Schola Cantorum has a varied repertoire that includes contemporary music, folk music and they have collaborated with the metal band Dimmu Borgir. In recent years the choir has visited Italy, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Germany, Sweden, Finland, South Korea, Russia and Denmark.

In the spirit of Knut Nystedt, Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl continues to perform modern music. The record Hymn to the Virgin (2013) contains several works by Norwegian composers, all of whom have carried forward Nystedt's legacy in their own way. The record was Grammy nominated in the category Best Engineered Album, Classical.

In 2014-2016 Schola Cantorum will commission six new pieces from young Norwegian composers and distribute videos of these on the internet. The project, named Digital dissemination of new Norwegian music, aims to increase interest regarding new Norwegian choral music.

Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl 

Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl trained as a singer and pianist and specialized in the Kodaly method in Hungary before taking her diploma exam in choral conducting at the Norwegian Academy of Music. She has been Schola Cantorums director since 2002 and was also director of the Norwegian Student Choral Society for a period. Tone is currently an Associate professor at the Norwegian Academy of Music. She regularly receives invitations to appear as a guest conductor and seminar holder in Norway and internationally. She is a treasured speaker on the subjects of communication and choral work, and has written a book on the subjects: The Choir. Singing – Leading – Communicating.

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