Northern Lights

SING THE NORTH travelled virtually to the Yukon Territory to sing Northern Lights by Ola Gjeilo – a stunning 6-part SATB visionary hymn to the most mysterious phenomenon of the night.

Set to the Latin Pulchra es amica mea text from Song of Solomon, Northern Lights was inspired by Ola Gjeilo’s experience of the Aurora borealis in his native Norway.

To prepare ourselves for this concert, the choir travelled on the STN Virtual Choir Tour Bus to Canada’s vast Yukon Territory, which, at its southern end, touches the 60th parallel of latitude. At its Northern end the Yukon reaches to the shores of the icy Beaufort sea. Measuring a massive 482,443 square kilometres, and with a population of only 43,000 people, it is a landscape of open spaces, clear rivers, towering mountains, and explansive and expressive skies.

Ola Gjeilo’s Northern Lights captures the powerful love – and also the terror – that the mysterious cosmic displays of the Aurora borealis can strike in the heart of those who are lucky enough to witness it.

Pulchra es anima mea / Thou are beautiful, O my love,

suavis et decora sicut Jerusalem, / Sweet and comely as Jerusalem,

terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata. /Terrible as an army set in array.

Averte oculos tuos a me / Turn away thine eyes from me,

quia ipsi me avolare fecerunt. / For they have made me flee away.



Meet Ola Gjeilo

Ola Gjeilo was born in Norway in 1978 and moved to the United States in 2001 to begin his composition studies at the Juilliard School in New York City, where he currently lives and works as a composer and pianist.

Ola is an exclusive Decca Classics artist, and his Decca albums include “Ola Gjeilo” and “Winter Songs”, also featuring Tenebrae, Voces8 and the Choir of Royal Holloway, and the solo piano album “Night”.

Virtual Field Trip

Watson Lake, Yukon

Every SING THE NORTH project features a trip in our virtual choir tour bus, a special session when we travel together as a choir to a different part of Canada to meet the people who live and work there.

The town of Watson Lake stands on the remote Alaska Highway, just north of the British Columbia border, which doubles as the Earth's 60th parallel of latitude.

The Yukon Territory, is one of the best places on earth to view the spectacular Aurora borealis, commonly known as the Northern Lights.

For our project on Ola Gjeilo's Northern Lights, we travelled along the Alaska Highway in the STN Virtual Choir Tour Bus to Watson Lake to visit the Northern Lights Space & Science Centre, where we were given a personal tour by the Centre's curator, Corrine Zozula. We send Corrine our warmest thanks!

When you are next on the Alaska Highway, we highly recommend stopping at this wonderful community-run centre for space and science enthusiasts. You will receive a warm welcome, an interesting tour, and you can have your picture taken with Chris Hadfield (or at least his life-sized cardboard cut-out), Canada's singing astronaut.

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