Grand Advent Concert

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to experience the Blue Hall in the famous Stockholm City Hall? Well you could join a guided tour and, well, you’d see an empty space. However, to experience it in all its splendour and magnificence, then you can either hope for an invitation to the Nobel Banquet - lucky you! - or you can buy a ticket to the traditional Advent Concert, a highly regarded event that this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Those that have watched the Nobel Prize banquet on TV have savoured the magical shimmer that radiates throughout the Blue Hall as the Royal Family and eminent guests glide down the marble staircase in their finest attire. A spectacle exactly as the architect, Ragnar Östberg envisioned when Stockholm City Hall was inaugurated in 1923.

What can the audience expect from this year’s jubilee concert?
We ask Bo Aurehl, the event’s conductor and presenter:
– You could say that the Advent Concert has two major characters, Bo says. One is the setting itself, probably Sweden’s most famous hall. Rather fittingly, our concert takes place a few days before the Nobel Banquet. The other is the performance, where the main focus is on the big and beautifully sounding choir. We are presenting three choirs, with my very own ensemble Stockholm Singers, the Stockholm Musikgymnasium Chamber Choir and the Helene Stureborg Chamber Choir. All three choirs perform at a world class level, having won major international choral competitions.

– The show will also feature dancers from the Stockholm Ballet Academy and the Stockholm Concert Orchestra together with singers Henriikka Gröndahl and Lars Johansson Brissman. Jonas Lundblad will be playing the impressive City Hall pipe organ, the biggest of its kind in Scandinavia.
– The Advent Concert is a traditional event, where the audience members recognise their favourite Advent and Christmas songs. Quite a few of our visitors consider our concert a yearly tradition. We receive emails already during the Summer, when old friends want to make sure they have tickets. We also have returning visitors from various countries, who enjoy the unique experience of our Advent Concert.

The acoustic must be something you are not used to, because the Blue Hall was not built for concerts, right?
– That is correct. It puts high demands on us and on our sound engineers. I have myself conducted concerts in the Blue Hall for over 40 years, so The City Hall is my home arena. I feel confident that the audience will have an unforgettable experience - both visually and musically.

PRESENTATIONS IN VERSE
Bo Aurehl conducts the music together with Helene Stureborg, a renowned musical partner. Bo also punctuates the evening’s musical high points with humorous and festive verse. While this is only in Swedish, the international guests highly appreciate the event nonetheless.

This year the Web Site www.advent.nu has been updated with an English version, as a service for non-Swedish visitors.

– I am actually working on the rhymes just now. It’s one of my Christmas habits, albeit a few months in advance.

Text: Tony Manieri
Photo: Habanera