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Outsider Like Me: Getting to Know the Music of Ola Gjeilo

Marketing & PR Intern Benjamin Little standing in

This week, we started releasing a series of video interviews about the creation of Northern Lights: Choral Works by Ola Gjeilo. I had the pleasure of sitting in on the final video shoot of the series, featuring Phoenix Chorale singer Kira Rugen, as she shared her feelings about Ola Gjeilo’s music.

As I just became the Phoenix Chorale’s Marketing and Public Relations Intern in January, I sat with mixed feelings before the shoot began. I was eager to be a part of something so exciting (the promotion and release of a new CD!) and nervous as I had never really heard Ola’s music before nor met an actual member of the Phoenix Chorale. The second feeling began to dissipate as Kira and I were introduced. She carried a warm smile and approachability that really impressed me. As she started talking about Ola’s compositions, this curiosity started to build inside of me, motivating me to want to listen to a CD of music composed by someone completely unfamiliar to me.

Phoenix Chorale soprano Kira Rugen

Kira brought up the beautiful emotions that Ola’s music evokes: vulnerability, love, and peace. She described the “aural pictures” that can be “seen” throughout the arrangements. As she mentioned similarities with the compositions and film music, I started connecting the film scores that often play in my head with the pictures that Kira depicted in her interview. The fear produced from my lack of familiarity with Ola’s work turned into a sense of excitement that this music would be wonderful to hear.

Our goal was to capture a minute and a half of usable content. Needless to say, we walked away with A LOT more. While reviewing the other segments for this video series, we found upbeat commentary ranging from sound engineer John Newton’s description of the Chorale’s sound to producer Blanton Alspaugh’s narrative of the interaction between the composer and the Chorale. It would be hard to deny that something incredible is about to be released into the world of recorded music. Just from hearing the samples that accompany these brief videos, the music of Ola Gjeilo brings comfort, joy, and peace to a former outsider like me.

– Benjamin Little, Marketing & Public Relations Intern

Part 1 – Charles Bruffy

Part 2 – Blanton Alspaugh

Part 3 – Ola Gjeilo

Part 4 – John Newton

Part 5 – Kira Rugen

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