Monthly Archives: October 2013

Concert Report

First, a couple of weeks ago Susanna took part in the regional round of the Norwegian young musician competition, and won first prize in the brass section for the whole of north Norway. She will fly to Oslo in November to compete in the national finals. Well done Susanna!


Next, to say that the concert in Vangsvik was very well received. We would like to thank everyone who came out – a real mixture of families, teenagers (!), and older folk. People seem to particularly like the combinations of instruments, like piano and organ together, and the arrangement of Elgar’s Nimrod for euphonium, piano and organ. We don’t have any pictures for the concert, but here are Susanna and Sarah rehearsing beforehand.


Concert in Vangsvik – En Eklektisk Samling

A couple of weeks ago, before the snow came, we had a trip out the village of Vangsvik on the south of Senja to try out the church organ. This Sunday we shall return to perform a concert, subtitled “En eklektisk samling av musikk fra Bach til Blå salme!” (an eclectic collection of music, from Bach to Blå salme – a well known contemporary Norwegian song). Susanna will play euphonium and sing, Sarah will sing and play piano / organ, and I’ll play piano / organ and possible the plastic pipe (my home made low whistle).


Here is the provisional music list, although we have yet to decide the running order. There will also be an interval with the obligatory coffee and cake! Note, if you were at our “Våpenhus” concert last week, the program is almost entirely different.

E. Morricone Gabriel’s oboe Euphonium and piano
R. Wilhelm Concertino for Euphonium (1st and 2nd mvts) Euphonium and piano
B. Marcello Sonata in F (1st and 2nd mvts) Euphonium and piano
E. Elgar Nimrod (from Enigma Variations) Euphonium, piano and organ
J.S. Bach Prelude in B minor Organ
J. Rutter Toccata in 7 Organ
T. Dubois Postlude Cantique Organ
J. Pachelbel Cannon Organ
C.V. Stanford Short preludes and postludes, Op 101 (No. 5 & 6) Organ
G. Bélier Toccata Organ
C. Saint-Saëns Symphony No 3 (2nd movement) Organ and piano
G.F. Handel If God is for us Voice and piano
E. Elgar Sea Pictures Voice and piano
E. Bye / H. Sommerro Blå salme Voice and piano
Hellbillies Det finaste eg veit Voice and piano
T. Paris Du Guds lamb Voice and piano
J. Rutter For the beauty of the earth Voice and piano

We are honoured to have been invited to play, and you’re all very welcome!

Ski Sunday

Growing up, the Blamire household were big fans of a winter sports program called ‘Ski Sunday’ which came on either before or after ‘Songs of Praise’ on the BBC.

Well, today (Sunday) I held my own ‘Ski Sunday’ in Finnsnes. The proper ski tracks aren’t open yet (not enough snow), but the car parks and connecting road between the church and town hall had just enough snow for a quick practice, before I headed out to Gibostad for a service.

Several locals clearly thought I was mad, but I enjoyed it!

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Switching To Winter

Rather a long post today – lots of pictures!

Having written about two weeks ago that snow was finally returning to the mountains, we have subsequently watched the snow-line gradually drop from 1000 m / 3100 ft, to under 500m / 1600 ft. These photos were taken in Rossfjord last week and the last one shows Vassbruna, where I walked at the end of September, now with lots of snow, but still nothing at sea level:

Following a relatively warm weekend, on Monday a couple of colleagues asked if we had heard that proper snow was due on Tuesday. It sounded a bit unlikely as we talked in the staff kitchen, bathed in sunlight with blue skies. However, we decided to call the garage and get them to put new winter tires on for us. OK they said: come down at 5 o’clock and we sort it. So at 5pm we delivered our winter wheels, thinking we would wait while they did the work. We’ll call tomorrow when they’re ready said the man, as we surveyed his workshop full of wheels.

Tuesday morning, right on cue, someone threw the “Winter Switch” and the snow came (pics of Sarah in the car park and the view from my office), but our winter tires did not, so the car was grounded.

Wednesday dawned bright and sunny, but still no sign of our winter wheels. Thankfully Sarah was able to travel with a better-prepared priest to play for a funeral:

Finally at 5pm on Wednesday, just as we began rehearsing for our intimvåpenhuskonsert, the garage called to say the car was ready. Hallelujah! And the concert went well too!

Thursday I played for a funeral in Fjordgård on north Senja. The weather was beautiful, with clouds and sea fog and sunshine, so I couldn’t resist rather a lot of pictures. Wednesday night was very cold and most of the trees shone white with frost. The really shock came as I got further on to Senja: in the space of two days large areas of the sea had frozen (notice the seagulls sat on the ice) and the tunnels had developed icicles several feet long. At the funeral someone mentioned temperatures of -14C / 7 f.  A pretty significant swing – winter has arrived (and it’s snowing again)!



Norwegians just love making long words from smaller ones! I haven’t quite worked out the rules yet, so for example it’s possible to have Intimkonsert (an intimate concert) and Våpenhuskonsert (weapon-house concert), but apparently not Intimvåpenhuskonsert (an intimate concert in the weapon-house). But what’s a ‘våpenhus’ (weapon-house) you might reasonably ask. Well it’s the room between the outside church door and the sanctuary, where you have to leave your weapons.

So, on Wednesday evening we shall play an intimate concert in Finnsnes church’ våpenhus to raise some money to pay for furniture to go in said room which has recently been redecorated to make it more welcoming to visitors. It’s free to get in but pay to get out!

Because the organ and grand piano can’t be move, we’ll utilize a variety of more portable appliances: harpsichord, harmonium, digital piano, bassoon, recorder and voice. We hope to create the feel of a ‘salon’ evening, with music from the Renaissance to contemporary (I guess in modern parlance that’s unplugged). We’ve almost finalized the program:

Come again John Dowland
Author of light Thomas Campion
Engelsk Suite in G minor Johann Sebastien Bach
Wilt thou forgive John Dunne
Blokkfløyte sonata George Fredrik Handel
Lullaby Peter Warlock
Fagott sonata Philip Telemann
Impromptu No 3 Franz Schubert
Oktober (fra seasonger) Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Blå salme Erik Bye / Hennig Sommerro
Scherzo for harmonium Alexandre Guillmant
Gymnopdeie No 1 Erik Satie
Salut d’amour Edward Elgar
Det finaste Hellbillies
Alltid fredig All sang

If you’re in Finnsnes on Wednesday, do join us – and don’t worry, despite being a furniture fund-raiser, chairs are provided!


Quiet Reflection

Amongst some quite squally wintery showers we’ve also had some very still periods this week. So, since the fountain has been removed from Finnsnes Vann (the pond) in preparation for the big freeze, I’ve had a bit of fun taking reflection pictures: kind of inverted reality!

Endelig Snø

Endelig snø – finally snow!

On Friday I traveled to Tromsø with the rest of our parish leadership team for an excellent conference as part of Agenda 1. On the drive there we began to see that some of the highest inland peaks had a sprinkling of fresh snow, and as we returned on Sunday afternoon it was snowing again, with the snow line down to 1000m (3100 feet) . Winter is now really on the way.

Last year the first snow came at the end of August, so we have enjoyed a prolonged stay of execution. To reinforce the impending winter, the local shops are now stocking snow shovels, the roads are lined with the red wayside marks used to guide snow ploughs, and most tractors have been fitted with their snow clearing accessories. Yesterday Susanna wondered “why do we keep smelling bonfires?” – in reality it’s woodsmoke from the woodburning stoves which the hardy north Norwegians have finally lit (apparently it’s over a month since the southern softies lit theirs).

Pictures are from Sunday afternoon (taken from a moving car), and this morning.

Trip To Vangsvik

At the end of October we will play a concert in Vangsvik kirke.  It’s a bit of a first for us – our first concert as family (Susanna playing at least as our equal), and our first ever concert for money!

So, in preparation, Sarah and I took a trip to check out the venue and instruments (Susanna was away in Cadiz, sunning herself on a school Spanish trip). Vangsvik lies right at the south end of Senja, about 20km from Finnsnes and we enjoyed a beautiful drive, taking in the Art Senja gallery on the way home.  Much of our area is covered in silver birch trees, which have now almost entirely lost their leaves, revealing the other varieties in their midst. Vansgvik looks out over the sea to the mainland and also to the small island community on Dyrøy, linked by bridge to the mainland.

Vangvik kirke is an ‘interesting’ piece of concrete architecture – very austere and utilitarian (a bit like a nuclear bunker)! However, they do have a very nice little organ (details here) and the most striking feature inside is the picture over the communion table, by a local artist / musician friend of ours, Sven Arild Berntsen.

Here are some pictures. In homage to my friend Christopher Briggs black and white blog, I’ve ‘manipulated’ some images, to almost B&W.