Nobel Peace Prize Concert 2015
Shortly after the start of the Nobel Peace Prize Concert #PeaceIsLoud held at Telenor Arena on 11 December 2015, the Norwegian Royal family entered accompanied by this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners- The Tunisian Dialogue Quartet.
The room rose as the Royal family took their seats and it was a magical moment when the Quartet stepped onto the stage. Silhouetted by columns of electric light, they were given a standing ovation as they spoke of overcoming conflict and achieving eace through dialogue, giving a message of of hope and inspiration. Having received the Nobel Peace prize for its contribution to building a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia after the Jasmine Revolution, the example of Tunisia demonstrates the value of dialogue in conflict- ridden areas and also its value for humanity globally.. The Quartet spoke, in the context of the concert, of how culture leads to dialogue and of how dialogue leads to peace and is necessary for democracy.
Earlier that day, I’d attended the Nobel Peace Prize Concert Press Conference attended by concert- host and acclaimed late night TV show host and comedian, Jay Leno, singer- songwriter Jason Derulo, self –taught Norwegian wunderkind Aurora Aksnes, Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi, electronic dance music prodigy Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll aka Kygo and legendary Norwegian band A-ha.
It was a small and intimate crowd and the artists fielded questions including whether artists should use their platforms for the greater good. A-Ha’s Morten Harket answered that artists had a right to do so and also a right not to have to do so and Jason Derulo answered that he saw the need for artists to use their platforms to effect good in society, a view he later reiterated at the concert.
First held in 1994, this was the first time the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, broadcast to 350 million households in up to 100 countries and in its 22nd year, was presented live streaming to YouTube, with Derek Muller as backstage YouTube host. The atmosphere was electric when Kygo, the first Electronic Dance Music artist to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, kicked off the show with ‘Stay’ featuring Maty Noyes accompanied by the symphony orchestra ‘ KORK’. Kygo also performed ‘Stole The Show’ with Parson James, ‘Firestone’ featuring popular Norwegian pop/ country singer Kurt Nilsen and a remix of A-Ha’s classic ‘ Take on me’ to a thrilled audience.
The artists were accompanied by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra, also known as “KORK’. Founded in 1946, and having played at every Nobel Peace Concert Prize Concert since its inception in 1994, the orchestra was led by guest conductor Nick Davies, who has conducted KORK at every Nobel Peace Prize concert since 2007. Show producers GYRO’s stage and lighting displays were mesmerising as huge LED screens created cascading kaleidoscopes of images and columns of light illuminated the darkness.
Swedish artist Mø performed songs “New Year’s Eve’ and ‘Lean on’ and was followed by Norwegian artist Aurora. As Aurora Asknes’ haunting voice filled the auditorium and it’s hard to imagine that such a full and powerful voice could emanate from such a slight frame. Yet this self- taught wonder from Bergen, Norway, who started teaching herself to play music at the age of six, and at age ten, started composing and writing her own songs, is a uniquely gifted artist, and mesmerising to listen to.
A debut performance at school led to one of her tunes being uploaded on youtube, and the rest as they say is history. Answering one of the questions posed to her at the press conference earlier that day, Aurora is tentative and thoughtful and espouses views on the word and humanity that belie her age, and it is in her lyrics that one gets a glimpse of the old soul in this young girl and as her voice winds its way through the auditorium, trembling and echoing, it leaves those that hear it enriched by its beauty and lyricism. Aurora performed ‘Halfway round the World’ and “Runaway’ from her debut album “Running with the Wolves’
Jason Derulo changed the pace with his slick stage show, toe tapping choreography and showmanship , performing ‘Cheyenne’ and ‘Want to want me’ from his fourth studio album, ‘Everything is 4’ and which became the most- added track in the history of Top 40 radio.
Emil Mathlouli, a Tunisian singer songwriter, who Jay leno had earlier touted as being his favourite’, and best known for her protest songs, was enigmatic and fiery on stage, performing the moving “Kelmti Horra” one of the songs became anthems for the Tunisian revolution. She gave a rousing performance and dedicated her performance to young people and those still fighting for freedom of expression and democracy in Tunisia.
Popular Norwegian band A-HA took to the stage next to much applause. Their debut single ‘ Take on Me’ hitting number 1 in the Autumn of 1985, and having sold over 80 million records, these stars are still going strong 30 years later and bring the same magic to their performances. Their top ten album ‘Cast in Steel’ has them on the first leg of their latest word tour. This, their third performance at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, after performances in 1998 and 2003, had them joking earlier that day at the press conference, that they’d become the resident house band for the Nobel concert.
As Kygo and AHA took to the stage to perform a remix of “Take on Me’ accompanied by the Mosaic Gospel Choir, there was an explosion of confetti as people swayed and then made their way out of the arena and into the night. It was a memorable and electrifying concert and the message of peace and goodwill echoed into the chilly Norwegian night, leaving a song in the heart and an indelible feeling of hope and inspiration etched into the soul.