Anna Maria Friman, Linn Andrea Fuglseth and Torunn ěstrem Ossum, better known as vocal ensemble Trio MediŠval head out on a new US tour these days. The trio has a loyal following in North America following several successful trips across the Atlantic. Mid November will see Trio MediŠval performing in Minneapolis, Westport, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Ann Arbor, Chicago and New York. The vocal trio is set to play a number of cities and venues never visited by the Norwegian ensemble before, undoubtedly breaking some new ground and recruiting new members to the trio’s fast growing US audience.
Founded in Oslo in 1997, Trio MediŠval has developed three distinct strands of repertoire: polyphonic medieval music from England and France, contemporary works and Norwegian medieval ballads and songs. The group’s initial phase was inspired by intense periods of work at the Hilliard Summer Festival in England and Germany, and subsequently with Linda Hirst and John Potter.
The trio has collaborated with many composers, including Gavin Bryars, Ivan Moody, Roger Marsh, Paul Robinson, Piers Hellawell, (UK), Joanne Metcalf (USA), Thoma Simaku (Albania), Oleh Harkavyy (Ukraine), Gonzalo MacÝas (Mexico), Bj°rn Kruse and Andrew Smith (Norway), and Sungji Hong (Korea).
Trio MediŠval released its first CD on ECM Records in October 2001. ‘Words of the Angel’ immediately went to The Billboard Top 10 Bestsellers list and was the April 2002 Stereophile “Recording of the Month.” On the 16th of January 2004 the trio released its second CD ‘Soir dit-elle’ on ECM Records. Also this recording was on the Billboard Top 10 list for weeks.
‘Soir, dit-elle' was Trio Mediaeval's second album. The trio's So-called Scandinavian sound was considered a refreshing and substantial contribution to the realm of sacred music. The choice of medieval repertoire for their young soprano voices was remarkably successful according to connoisseurs of the style. The singing of the three women has been characterized as uniquely transparent and pure at the same time as the melodic abilities are rare. Especially the blending of the three voices, and their control and intelligence in so doing, has been the cause of much acclaim. On their former release the focus was on classical works from the medieval period. This time the majority of the works are original, especially composed for the trio; as a consequence of their high status in the sphere of medieval music. The exception is pieces by Leonel Powers; a key figure in English 15th century music. The great temporal span thus represented on the record serves to reveal the distinct qualities of sacred music that renders the expression non-temporal; "an intimacy with the continuous, timeless present" to quote the words of John Potter of the Hillard ensemble; instrumental in the formation of the Trio Mediaeval and producer on this ECM release.
September saw the international release of their latest album, ‘Stella Maris’ on ECM. The new record combines and contrasts English and French music of the 13th and 14th centuries with contemporary music of Korean composer Sungji Hong (born 1973). A few quotes from the domestic press:
“Airy, supple, inspiringly peaceful singing and sound. We may rejoice at this exquisite Norwegian female trio.” ****** - Adresseavisa
”They master the music to completion, and ECM’s production cultivates the sound of the three ladies in a supernatural direction, as though we sense three voices without bodies. What a perfection!” ***** - Dagbladet
trio mediaeval has given concerts and radio broadcasts in the US, UK, Austria, Holland, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Finland, the Baltic States, Spain and France. They have performed at venues such as the Wigmore Hall London, BBC Radio 3 lunchtime concerts from the Temple Church, Trinity College Chapel Cambridge, the Vienna Konzerthaus and the Oslo Concert House. In February 2004 the trio made its first tour of the US, with concerts and broadcasts in New York, Washington, Boston, Chicago and Lacey. In November 2004 they made their second US tour also visiting Canada, and including radio broadcasts in Minnesota, Georgia and Quebec, Canada. Their April 2005 US tour brings them for the first time to the West Coast, and in December their venues include Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall and the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.
Previous trips to the US have spawned a string of rave review for the vocal trio, below are some excerpts:
"Make room for this extraordinary Scandinavian trio (…) They are jewels of a different hue. One thread that binds all these disparate compositions together is a fascination with the power of human voices alone, and Trio Mediaeval presents a shining example of just how enthralling that sound can be."
"A room of extraordinary and consoling beauty."
The Boston Globe
"The group is breathtaking (…) with every moment ready to bring a surprise."
The Wall Street Journal
"As its members disperse, Anonymous 4 leaves behind the niche it largely created. And eager to fill it are three hip and lively Scandinavian women (…) All three singers, through highly individual in vocal color and approach function as high-flying sopranos, pure and bright."
The New York Times
Trio Mediaeval (Performing Bodies\Ensembles)