Transformation is to come home, according Madagascar's military choir LOVA and Norwegian SKRUK. During Olav's Festival they meet in Church of Our Lady.
Not only will SKRUK lead the traditional community singing inThe Archbishop’s Courtyard on 29. July, the following day they will also be in Church of Our Lady together with LOVA, the official military choir of Madagascar. If you think it will be stand to attention and marches, you couldn't be more off the mark.
The LOVA choir is from the west coast of Madagascar and was founded by Jean Maksera Revoma over 20 years ago. The choir comprises fourteen men and two women. The purpose of the choir is to "raise the morale of the Malagsy defense forces" and "to preach the gospel through song". Lova sings with a quite distinctive power and rhythm. The sound is massive, and the songs are fuelled by rhythmic energy accompanied by exuberant humour, dance and the tramp of military boots. The repertoire consists of traditional Malagasy coastal vocal music with Christian texts.
The Malagsy word closest to English transformation, is «mampody». Mampody means «transformation of something into something else». Mampody also means "to send home". So the Malagsy use the same word for the transformation of water into wine by Jesus and students being sent home from school at the end of the day.
Transformation through meeting others
The SKRUK and LOVA concert is both textually and musically about how the church's message can transform us and return us to what is authentic and original. The intention is, that through the use of various styles, new and old, Norwegian and Malagsy, the concert will result in a transformation – a transformation through encountering other people.
SKRUK, Sunnmøre Christian Youth Choir, has since its start in 1973, been led by conductor Per Oddvar Hildre. The choir has now 50 members, and although the average age no longer matches that of a typical youth choir, the youthful enthusiasm of the members is sustained by the music and the fellowship within the choir. It has been a pioneer in Norwegian choral music, especially through collaborative projects at home and abroad.
Based on Christian values, the choir wants to convey a message of peace and charity, and emphasizes bridging peoples and religious, cultural, and musical diversity. The choir has helped to create many new musical expressions through collaboration with musicians from, for example, Iran, Turkey, Equador, the USA, Azerbaijan – and Madagascar.
The Norwegian Missionary Society (NMS) has cooperated with LOVA for a long time, both in Madagascar and in Norway. LOVA has been in Norway several times in connection with various projects. In 2014, with SKRUK, the choir filled Oslo Cathedral twice. It is NMS that has extended the invitation and which coordinates this collaborative project.
Based on SKRUK and LOVA's repertoire, Anders Rønningen has composed and arranged music. Jan Terje Christoffersen has contributed texts. Some songs have been left untouched, others have been translated and adapted, and some have provided inspiration for brand new material. The repertoire for the concert ranges, therefore, from ecclesiastical hymns, religious Norwegian folk tones and revival songs set to traditional Malasay music.
Anders Rønningen is associate professor in music education and as well as a composer and a musician, and has worked on Madagascar for The Norwegian Missionary Society for eight years. He knows both choirs from previous projects. Jan Terje Christoffersen started as parish minister in Tønsberg Cathedral in 2018 after having been first lecturer in liturgy at MF, The Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society.
– A sense of homecoming
The choirs do not want to offer a banal interpretation of music genres by mixing and composing musical themes in a variety cultural styles. Rather, they aim to use musical and evangelical expressions which mirror the transformation that occurs when people of different backgrounds meet.
They believe that this can give a sense of homecoming. People meet with open minds and share experiences and beliefs. This also involves an invitation to the public. We meet and are transformed. We are slightly different when we return home to where we belong, and where we belong is transformed by our meetings with others.