Young Prize-Singers Sang at Skansen
On Saturday 6 August at 2 p.m. the concert titled “Jenny & Jussi” took place at the Solliden stage at Skansen – a cooperation between the Jussi Björling Society, which annually award a promising tenor, and Folkets Hus och Parker, which choose a Jenny Lind award winner every year. Producer Simon Törnqvist greeted the audience and introduced the compère Pernilla Eskilsdotter, well-known from the radio programme “Classical Morning“ on Swedish Radio. Pernilla, who was compère last year as well, was as before filled with energy and had done her homework well. During the concert she interviewed the singers and musicians and also Ulrika Precht from Folkets Hus och Parker and Stefan Olmårs from the Jussi Björling Society.
Pernilla Eskilsdotter and Stefan Olmårs
The concert opened with this year’s Jenny Lind Prize Winner, mezzo-soprano Karin Osbeck, singing two Swedish 19th century songs, first Adolf Fredrik Lindblad’s “Aftonen” and then Emil Sjögren’s “I drömmen du är mig nära”, pliably accompanied by pianist Matilda Lindholm.
Matilda Lindholm and Karin Osbeck
After that it was time for the presentation of the Jussi Björling Society Award. The chairman of the Society, Bengt Krantz, read the motives for the prize, which this year was awarded to lyric tenor Ole Aleksander Bang. He was met with warm applause and received a beautiful crystal vase with the engraved text “Ole Aleksander Bang, a prize-winner with heavy capacity and rare lightness in his singing” and SEK 30 000. Ole Aleksander studies at the University College of Opera in Stockholm and is to begin his second year. He felt very honoured and thanked with beautiful tenor tone in a song often sung also by Jussi, Gustaf Nordqvist’s “Till havs”, excellently accompanied by pianist Samuel Skönberg.
Bengt Krantz, Ola Aleksander Bang and Stefan Olmårs
The Jenny Lind Award has involved among other things concert tours in Sweden and North America, which Karin has done together with her pianist Matilda and tenor Wiktor Sundqvist. From their repertoire we heard Ravel’s piano piece “Jeux d’eau” and enjoyed Wiktor’s tenor in Cardillo’s “Core n’grato”.
After that our prize-winner Ole Aleksander returned, now in Romeo’s aria “Ah! Lève-toi, soleil!” from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, lyrically sung with a tenor voice that is completely equilized over the whole register, as before with Samuel at the grand.
Ole Aleksander Bang
Samuel also had the honour to accompany the excellent cellist Pelle Hansen, normally member of the Royal Court Orchestra, but now guest-appearing on Solliden with Rachmaninov’s caressing “Vocalise”, originally a vocal work, composed for high voice (soprano or tenor) with piano accompaniment, and dedicated to soprano Antonina Nezhdanova.
Now followed more outgoing music in the shape of two arias from Rossini’s La Cenerentola. First was Wiktor with Prince Ramiro’s aria “Si, ritrovarla il giuro” and then we heard Karin in Angelina’s (Cinderella*s) aria “Nacqui all’affanno … Non più mesta”. Both singers demonstrated good coloratura and top notes, and also great stage presence. Ole Aleksander then showed off in student Simon Ryanovicz’s aria “Nu är jag pank och fågelfri” (Ich hab’ kein Geld, bin vogelfrei) from Millöcker’s operetta Der Bettelstudent. By the way, it isn’t very often one hears two young tenors on the same concert singing so good high Cs. Impressive!
Finally Ole Aleksander sang Ragnar Althén’s “Land, du välsignade” with dignity and warm, full voice, and once again one remembered Jussi Björling. The duet “Ja was? Ein trautes Zimmerlein” from Lehár’s Die lustige Witwe, charmingly sung by Karin and Wiktor, brought the memorial concert to an end. Pernilla Eskilsdotter thanked all the participating artists, who got glowers and appreciating warm applause from the numerous listeners.
Text: Berit Sjögren
Translation: Göran Forsling
Photo: Pelle Jansson, Calle Friedner and Göran Forsling