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March 16, 1942: Composer Benjamin Britten enters the freight ship "Axel Johnson" after a three-year long stay in the US. The boat later makes a stay in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and it is there that Britten buys the anthology "The English galaxy of shorter poems". During this long and dangerous trip in the middle of world war 2, he composes substantial parts of what is to become his famous "A Ceremony of Carols". An iconic, hopeful work that is to be performed for decades later.

Winter, 2020: The entire globe is in a state of pandemic. In Oslo, Norway, a pianist and composer sits in a Covid-closed city. He has been looking for a concept for a large-scale choral work. The idea arises to create a work loosely modelled after Britten´s "Ceremony". It is merely used as inspiration, and all the music is new. Fundamental to the idea is to use texts from the same book that Britten used.

The name of the pianist-composer is Joachim Knoph, and this is the result.

Knoph has cooperated for several years with the women´s choir "Vokal Vivo", conducted and founded by Marianne Husby Berg. And it was this choir, together with Berg, that gave the first performance of the work at two concerts on December 7, 2021, in Oslo, Norway. The harp part was performed by Uno Alexander Vesje, and the mezzo-soprano solo by Ingrid Stige.

The "hope" theme is strong throughout the work, and the lyrics span from the anonymus, old "I saw a faire Maiden" to Phillips Brooks´ timeless "O little town of Bethlehem and Emily Dickinson´s "Hope is the thing with feathers".


Joachim Knoph (b. 1979) is a pianist and composer living in Norway.

He enjoys an active career as a pianist in his home country and abroad, and has performed several times in countries such as Russia and China. He appears on several cd recordings, and is recipient of the YAMAHA award. 

Joachim Knoph is also active as a composer, and a number of his works have been performed publicly and on cd, including performances in the USA, France, Sweden and Portugal. Especially his music for choir has been frequently performed in recent years. Ensembles that have performed his music include the Grammy nominated "Ensemble 96", The Norwegian Youth Choir, Kammerkoret NOVA, The Chamber Choir of the Norwegian Academy of Music, Oslo Cathedral boy´s choir, Bergen Cathedral girls´ choir, Nidaros Cathedral Girls´ Choir, The Women´s Choral Society of the University of Oslo, Bærum Vocal Ensemble, Vokal Vivo. Choral works by Joachim Knoph have been performed at festivals such as Oslo International Church Music Festival and Hardanger Musikkfest.

Joachim received his education from The Norwegian State Academy of Music, Barratt Due Institute of Music/Malmö Academy of Music and Ecole Normale de Musique "Alfred Cortot", Paris, in addition to a stay at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. 

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Photo: Zoltán Szalay/Wikimedia Commons

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Vokal Vivo 2021. Photo: David Dawson

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Vokal Vivo and Marianne Husby Berg at the first
performance, Oslo 2021. Photo: David Dawson

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Uno A. Vesje, Oslo 2021. Photo: David Dawson

Ingrid Stige, Oslo 2021. Photo: David Dawson


Oslo Damekor, Oslo 2022. Marianne Husby Berg (cond.),
Uno A. Vesje, harp. Ingrid Stige, soloist.

Oslo Damekor, Uno Vesje, Marianne Husby Berg (cond.).
Oslo 2022.

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Bergen, 2022: Vokalensemblet Vox Animae, cond. Eirin Beate Åserud-Løvlid. Johannes Wik, harp. Photo: Alexander Papas

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Oslo, 2023: "Ensemble 96", cond. Nina T. Karlsen. Uno A. Vesje, harp. First performance, SATB version

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Oslo, 2024: "Ensemble 96", cond. Nina T. Karlsen. Uno A. Vesje, harp. Recording, selections from SATB version

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